Bobby Hershfield started his career at DDB Chicago, then spent time at Chiat/Day, where he helped launch Fruitopia, developed work for Reebok and worked with Jay Chiat on his pet projects.
He then spent nine years at Wieden + Kennedy, where he convinced Dan Wieden to let him switch from the account side to the creative department. As a creative, he work edon ESPN and developed the award-winning Beta-7 campaign for Sega video games. Hershfield moved on to Ogilvy & Mather, Mother, SS&K and The Community before being named chief creative officer at The VIA Agency in Portland, Maine, last summer. (He continues to live in New York for now, but will move to Portland soon.)
Muse spent two minutes with Hershfield to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.
Bobby, tell us...
The town where you were born, and where you live now.
I was born in Akron, Ohio. Currently I live in Brooklyn, New York, but I'm about to live in Portland, Maine.
What you wanted to be when you grew up.
Sportswriter for the Miami Herald. I lived in Miami in elementary school.
How you discovered you were creative.
My mother is an artist, so I never really had that discovery. I just kind of was, a lot of which was her doing. She is a wonderful influence on me and gently encouraged freedom of expression of any kind, and I loved it.
A person you idolized creatively growing up.
Steve Martin. David Letterman. My mother and father.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
My father ran a factory in Akron and made me work for him for two summers. Not negotiable. I remember vividly working in the production office with all the union workers. I was going to college; they didn't have college educations. I wore a Bruce Springsteen concert T shirt to work; they couldn't afford tickets to a concert. My father was the boss; they worked for him. And because of my last name and what was afforded me, they hated me. Treated me like shit and hazed me throughout the summer.
My father didn't intervene at all. In fact, I wasn't allowed to refer to him as Dad—only by his first name. He completely stayed out of it and told me I had to earn their respect on my own. So, I was the first one there, and the last one to leave. I learned how to talk in a way that didn't reveal privilege, and I took their jokes and started to feel comfortable enough to respond with a few of my own. In the end they took me to a strip bar for beers, and that was their way of saying I did it. Changed my life in terms of appreciating what I have, being grounded and humbled and developing a work ethic to earn respect versus expecting it.
The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.
My first concert was John Denver at Blossom Music Center. My favorites are Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and, of course, the Beatles.
Your favorite visual artist.
Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.
Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief.
The best book you've read lately.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and Here, There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick.
Your favorite movie.
Your favorite Instagram follow.
How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally, in recent weeks?
It's been pretty tough since I'm in the beginning of a new job, moving to a new city, selling an apartment, buying a house, leasing cars and just starting over. Dealing with different lawyers, bankers, real estate brokers and all the things involved with moving and getting settled while trying to acclimate, albeit virtually, into a new role and trying to be present and involved with my family. I've sort of had out-of-body moments where I can't believe I'm doing it.
And I can't really complain since globally we're all in it together and we all have our things to deal with, so I guess it makes me appreciate what I have and what I can get done. I'm enjoying the family time with my wife and two kids, who I recently learned are named Harry and Louie, and every day is an American-Gladiator-like challenge that I either succeed at or come up short, but I know there's a new one the next day—and I'm starting to welcome them.
Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.
HBO Go, "Awkward Family Viewing." Just was personal, comedy dialogue and resonated with a lot of people. We also had a lot of fun creating a writer's room and just writing and writing.
Alzheimer's. I love how we added art to the true stories of people suffering with Alzheimer's. I also love that we worked with a composer from Argentina and an illustrator from France and had them put to art these real stories.
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.
Fearless Girl. Dumb Ways To Die. Nothing Beats a Londoner.
Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.
I like the launch work for The New York Times. I thought that was just so perfectly done and crafted.
Your main strength as a creative person.
Your weakness or blind spot.
My idealism. I can get frequently disappointed when the industry betrays that idealism.
One thing that always makes you happy.
A great sitcom like Cheers, 30 Rock, Arrested Development or Veep.
One thing that always makes you sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.