BBDO ECD Danilo Boer and president & CEO Kirsten Flanik reflect with Addison Capper on a project that expanded the agency network with hundreds of new addresses amid the Covid-19 outbreak
Last week, BBDO launched a new initiative to help cope with the reality that nearly all of the agency’s employees are now working from home. With the hope of helping people continue to feel inspired and motivated to do the best they can, from wherever they are, the agency announced it was “opening hundreds of new offices”.
, every employee could "launch their own BBDO office" by simply typing their address and generating an official BBDO + THEIR HOME ADDRESS logo.
These hundreds of logos can be used as email signatures for all employees during these WFH days.
Each logo also contains the message: "We are all at BBDO, wherever we are. Stay safe."
Within a matter of hours of launching in New York, there was an outpouring of interest from other BBDO offices who loved the idea and wanted to join in. The code was quickly revised to bring the idea to scale across the global network. Now there are hundreds of “new offices” around the world!
LBB’s Addison Capper spoke to Danilo Boer, executive creative director, and Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO, at BBDO NY to hear more about this positive creative beacon in confusing and scary times.
LBB> What was the initial inspiration behind this project?
Danilo> We were already working from home last week and by Thursday and Friday everyone seemed so worried about the whole world. Where is this all going? How are our lives going to change? But at the same time, people were so determined to make it work, that life must go on. It was people's own determination and focus during these difficult times that inspired me to try to do something to help everyone feel a little better about working from home.
The whole idea was: What if instead of telling people they should work from home, we tell them they are opening their own BBDO office? It just felt like it would give a sense of pride to everyone. A small, but nice, gesture.
LBB> Who came up with the idea? Was there a brief to do something like this or was it more of a lightbulb thing?
Danilo> There was no brief. I was just rocking my baby to sleep and had the idea. When she fell asleep, I ran to my laptop and comped a mini deck with how I wanted the website to look and wrote the copy you see on bbdoyourhome.com
. Then, I called Sho Matsuzaki, who is a genius who can do anything, and he brilliantly figured out how to code the website! In the morning it was up and running.
I shared the idea with BBDO leadership. They loved it and wanted to share with the office right away. Once word got out, the whole Network wanted to join in. Now we have “new BBDO offices” popping up all over the world.
LBB> What are the main aims and ambitions of the project?
Danilo> It’s meant to be something simple and fun to help people feel inspired by their current WFH space and motivated to do the best they can, from wherever they are.
LBB> BBDO is such a huge company - even from just a New York perspective, we are talking about hundreds of people. How are you navigating the challenge of working from home on such a scale?
Kirsten> Believe it or not, I’m feeling especially connected to folks right now. Although we can’t all be together in the office, there is an extra energy and effort happening to stay connected that is fortunately possible with technology today. That said, having your whole agency work from home is a pretty major adjustment. For many of us, there are added challenges—homeschooling your kids, making supply runs, and dogs barking during conference calls. But we will get through it, we’re learning and adapting as we go.
LBB> When it comes to productivity and keeping clients happy, what are the main focus points for you?
Kirsten> Everyone here has been so great about working to set our clients up for success in a challenging time. BBDO is a family, and that extends to our clients—their success, happiness and safety are important to us. We’re all in it together. In terms of productivity, we’ve been trading tips and tricks as we all adjust to finding new ways of working remotely, but I think staying focused on outcomes is the best we can do. There are lots of calls, Facetimes, emails, but we’re all still doing our jobs. And not just from a business continuity standpoint, but being proactive to help clients best manage their business and brands during these particularly challenging times and beyond.
LBB> And then from a morale point of view, how are you ensuring employees are kept happy?
Kirsten> I’ve been so inspired by how our people are working to make the best of a difficult situation. This BBDO Your Home initiative is a prime example of people finding ways to lift each other up and create inspiration. I’ve also seen video conference happy hours, threads featuring our new pet colleagues, and people sharing their at-home workouts. We're finding bright moments to share in our own BBDO-way. Most importantly, we are all of the mentality that we can and will make it through this, especially if we help one another along the way. And my hope is that we’ll all come out stronger on the other side.
LBB> What are the main challenges for an ad agency when it comes to inaccess to an everyday office?
Kirsten> One of the biggest challenges for our agency when working from home is adjusting to a less social environment. We operate on an open floor plan and encourage everyone to be collaborative, brainstorm in groups and speak face-to-face. Often, creativity is a collaborative process. So that’s hard when you’re not able to work in groups. But thankfully we have the technology like Zoom, Facetime, and texting to provide some kind of feeling of connectedness.
LBB> Do you think that companies being forced to work from home could change the way agencies work in the future more generally? Why and how?
Kirsten> If there is a silver lining, I think this is a chance to really examine what works for agencies and what doesn’t. We have an opportunity to assess how we’re using our time and to potentially identify efficiencies. I hope in the end we’ll all be more open-minded as to what a workspace can look like. I do also think this could re-spark the joy of working face-to-face. Over the years we’ve leaned more and more into communicating digitally, but maybe this experience will encourage everyone to step away from the computer screen and go out and build more personal relationships.