Partner talk.

The perfect match.

The two standing ovation owners Michael Dancsecs and Etienne Ruppen in conversation.

Michael (MD): What made you decide to join standing ovation?

Etienne (ER): I joined standing ovation in 2014 with the intention of putting my entrepreneurial talent to greater use. We hit it off straight away, and standing ovation has an extraordinary team. It quickly clicked between us. The two of us complement each other: You’re the visionary, the one who sees the possibilities and opportunities, always on the lookout for a challenge. My role is to lead the team, plan resources and keep making the impossible possible. That’s the perfect match for me.

ER: What does our partnership mean to you?

MD: In our case, two are much more than one plus one. For me a business partnership doesn’t just mean sharing responsibility, it is also a guarantee of continuity and creativity for our clients. The success of standing ovation is based on partnership. That’s how it has been for the last twelve years, and this is how it will be in future too. I need a sparring partner, someone who will ask critical questions. In this new constellation we can combine our strengths even more effectively.

MD: What has defined you and your career?

ER: I grew up in the hotel business, and this instilled a sense of service in me. My parents run a hotel and restaurant in Saas-Grund. I saw what it means to be there for the guest, for the client, and to provide them with a unique experience. For me, hospitality has always figured large. I’m often asked by friends and colleagues who run a hotel or restaurant how I would rate the experience at their establishments. My partner is Vice General Manager at the Art Deco Hotel Montana in Lucerne… Service and hospitality are part of my life.

ER: What lessons have you taken away from over ten years in the business of live communication?

MD: That we have progressed from event organisers to brand experts. Just as the role and significance of brands have developed, live experience has become a key marketing instrument. We still design and stage live events, but we are increasingly doing so in the context of brand experience and brand management. A fascinating development that opens up perspectives for us which were inconceivable ten years ago.

MD: How much of the canton of Valais have you still got in you?

ER: You can definitely hear from my accent that I’m from Valais. There’s no denying that I’m a “Grüezi” (see phrase book)… I grew up in Valais and I always describe myself as a native of Valais to people in the rest of German-speaking Switzerland. Interacting with people, being proactive, socialising and enjoying life are all in my nature. And I need that. What’s more, for me there’s no “Röschtigraben”, no boundary between German- and French-speaking Switzerland. I feel very much at home in Zurich, but at the same time I appreciate my regular trips back to the mountains to reconnect with the locals, their traits and the amazing natural scenery.

ER: What is more demanding – your job or being a father?

MD: They both require energy, but they both give me a great deal of joy: Just like my twins have the privilege of discovering the world anew each day, that’s how I like to tackle projects: seeking new ideas, winning over clients to them, and successfully delivering on concepts. Making this openness part of my job is important to me, even if it can be demanding.

MD: What do you get up to when we’re not sitting opposite each other in the office?

ER: I text you to ask you where you are… (laughs). I had the chance to convert an alpine hut in Valais – or “Maiensäss” as they call it there. That’s where my partner and I retreat to whenever the opportunity arises. It’s where I replenish my strength, a place for clear thoughts, for rewarding conversations and well thought-out decisions. Zurich’s Seebach district and the larch forests above Saas-Grund are worlds apart. And yet for me they belong together: the phygital world of live communication and the lure of the towering Valais mountains.

Mini Valais phrase book.

  • Grüezi = Inhabitant of German-speaking Switzerland outside the canton of Valais
  • Horu = Matterhorn (mountain)
  • Mattini = Inhabitants of Zermatt
  • Plättli = Platter with cheese, sausage and meat specialities
  • Saasi = Inhabitants of the Saastal (Saas Valley)

Industry awards set benchmarks, foster a discussion about quality and motivate people. Winning our first FAMAB AWARD on 23 November was a great experience for us: we can count ourselves as an international player! Yes, awards make sense and are fun. And there are good reasons for that.

Industry prizes allow us to do two things: measure ourselves against competitors and showcase ourselves. We can compare ourselves to competitors in the market and showcase our services for our customers and their projects. This is why we participate in national and now also international competitions. Because these competitions show us where we stand. And they prove to our customers how well we perform. At the same time, an exchange with industry experts and colleagues is important: we gather inspiration and cultivate an ideas network.

National comparison: being among the best.

The XAVER Award is like a national league for us. It aims to be a “seal of quality” for “outstanding live projects”, such as the Expo-Event. Live Communication Association Switzerland. For us, competing for the XAVER Award is a must, as it shows our qualities and our market value to others in the industry and to a broad audience. Winning a XAVER Award can be noted on our track record vis-à-vis our customers. But, despite our pride at having won numerous XAVERs: our work focuses on our customers – and not on our ambitions.

European comparison: expanding horizons.

By participating in the FAMAB AWARD we participated in an international jury this year for the first time. “Playing in the Champions League” was the concept. The FAMAB AWARD is an interdisciplinary event organised by the German communication association FAMAB Kommunikationsverband e.V. (formerly Verband Direkte Wirtschaftskommunikation e.V.). This is where international benchmarks are determined. A Swiss agency is up against agencies and project budgets which are both usually considerably larger. A Swiss agency that succeeds, knows: we are first-rate in terms of creativity and performance. We were therefore delighted to win the bronze FAMAB AWARD for the “ABB Gotthard” project.

Read more about the FAMAB award ceremony.

International customers: a global perspective.

In addition to expanding our horizons, dealing with international competition is also an obligation in respect of our globally active clients. Customers such as the European Space Agency, ABB, Barry Callebaut, Microsoft or the Mindfire Foundation task us with projects of international dimensions. We operate in a globalised world of communication, even though we position ourselves first and foremost as a national service provider. So, after winning our first international AWARD we have gained a taste for more. And the winner is… standing ovation and its clients!

© Bilder FAMAB Award: Peter Jammernegg, Ben Grna

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