#WFH Diaries: Greg Hahn of BBDO

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, we're checking in with creative folks to see how they're holding up. Here's an update from Greg Hahn of BBDO.

Give us a one-sentence bio of yourself.

Creative vice chairman BBDO Worldwide, chief creative officer BBDO New York, Libra.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you? 

Brooklyn, New York. My wife Mandy and daughter Tuesday, cats Django and Sugar, and our dog Penny.

What's your work situation like at the moment? 

It's been pretty intense. Months of planning and development got essentially overturned in a day with the cancelation of a lot of the major media events. So, it's a lot of plan B'ing and making sure the creative we're putting out there is appropriate for the moment. It's been a really inventive and collaborative time. Logistically, lots of Zoom meetings, emails, calls and a pretty active WhatsApp stream.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Lots of texting, FaceTiming and reaching out or hearing from people I haven't been in touch with in a while. For that, it's been nice.

I've also rediscovered the phone call. I normally avoid using the phone for actual calls at all costs. But now, the closer to real human contact the better. Now that you mention it, I have a new appreciation for human contact.

How are you dealing with childcare?

My daughter, who's 10, has school in the morning through the afternoon. But beyond that, my wife has been a hero. She's been great with keeping some sense of structure and rhythm in the chaos. If it were left to me, it would be Lord of the Fly (we just have one kid here).

What are you reading?

The same sentence over and over again. I find it really hard to concentrate while reading these days.

I have found that short-form essays are good for times like this. I'd reco anything by Simon Rich, David Sedaris and BJ Novak's book, One More Thing, is really great.  

What are you watching? 

At the end of a long day, really anything for escape. Lots of comfort TV. The other night Mandy and I streamed Murder She Wrote. So, yeah, that's where I'm at. 

What are you listening to?

The voice in my head. 

How are you staying fit?

I bought a Bowflex machine on Facebook Marketplace. For people who know me, I am not making this up.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Epidemiology.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Yes. Use Google Shopping. Most people go straight to Amazon. If you hit the Google Shopping link at the top, it pulls products from some really obscure sites. I bought a ton of disinfectant stuff from some industrial air conditioning supply store. On the downside, I'm now on the mailing list of some industrial air conditioning supply store.

An awkward moment since all this started.

It's all democratically awkward. We're all in the same position. CEOs and CMOs are videoing in from their kitchen with kids in the background. It's actually really humanizing.

Best work email you got since all this started.

One of our ECDs telling me his wife and child tested negative for the virus. They both had been really sick.

An aha! moment since all this started.

So many. On a work level, just how efficient we can actually be working remotely. I think it helps that everyone is working this way. It's easier to sync schedules and working styles when we all do it. I do miss the impromptu hallway collaboration though.

On a personal level, I heard a psychologist recently say, "There's room for more than one emotion." That really struck me. Just because you're anxious or worried one moment doesn't mean you can't find moments of enthusiasm and positivity. This isn't all one thing.

When all else fails, remember gratitude. Focus on the things we do have. This pandemic is also happening in third world countries to people packed in one small leaky room. When you think about it that way, it's like, "Yay, electricity." 

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

My optimistic view is that things will rebound relatively quickly once this is behind us. The demand for all the services and business that are hurting right now hasn't gone away. And in some ways will be stronger. It's been proven that brands that invest during times like this end up dominating in the long run. 

As a society, I think we'll come to appreciate each other and certain experiences we used to take for granted on a different level. So, I'm hopeful for the future. 

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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