Publicis New York's Andy Bird On Creativity In The Age of COVID-19

As the ad industry slowly begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Publicis New York Chief Creative Officer Andy Bird is just one of the millions who have confronted the virus first-hand. His experience with the virus has shaped his perspective on leadership and creativity in our pandemic world.

“It is real. COVID-19 is no joke,” he states, adding that senior-level Publicis Groupe executives were immensely helpful throughout his battle with the virus in late March.

Bird, now fully recovered, says his leadership style moving forward will carry even more empathy and focus on work-life balance. “I will make sure people take a break to have a life,” he said. “It’s about their health and well being most importantly. But when we create space, this is also when we find inspiration and do our best creative thinking. This is hugely important right now.”



His agency’s client activity remains high during this crisis and his experience has made him think about creativity differently, in particular those COVID-19 PSA ads. Bird says brands should think about how they can be useful right now and provide people assistance in some manner. 

To that end, one client’s advertising has been offering simple how-tos for people. “The ones that resonate are providing value to people, helping them navigate this new, strange world we find ourselves in.”

He and his colleagues at Publicis New York have been delivering new creative on nearly a daily basis. Despite the inherent challenges of developing creative work and bringing together essential components while working remotely, they are still able to quickly turnaround compelling creative for clients.

Amid COVID-19, creative shops everywhere have been forced to respond with limited production resources and constraints. He admits short-term creative hacks being used across the industry are collectively delivering a generic tonal quality. “We need to make sure to not miss the authenticity.” In fact, he has spotted the same stock footage across several brand spots.

Bird expresses uncertainty, as do many leaders, over when things might return to normal. While he is eager for the shooting industry to restart, he anticipates there will be delays in castings and supportive businesses aiding in production. “It is going to take a while, but we’ll get there” he says.

Bird’s experience over the past few weeks has undeniably changed him, but his humor and upbeat demeanor remain on display. In between his multiple Zoom meetings, he enjoys picking up his guitar and playing jazz music.

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