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Back Chat with Lida's Nicky Bullard: 'Anyone who has kids and who has managed to succeed has my respect'

Nicky Bullard, executive creative director at Lida, takes aim at tax on pensions and the lack of diversity in the industry, while telling us why she ‘gobbed off’ during her recent judging stint at Cannes.

So, how are you and what’s been keeping you busy?

I’m cream crackered but exhilarated. I’ve just got back from Cannes as the UK Direct judge. This has to have been one of the best experiences of my career. Just brilliant. I’m afraid I gobbed off quite a bit. I couldn’t walk out of that jury room with my head held high if what we awarded was simply great work, not great Direct work. So Bossy Bullard was a tad vocal.

What’s your biggest gripe at the moment?

The lack of diversity in our industry. Honestly, while we were quaffing on the Carlton Terrace one evening, I looked around and it was 100 per cent white drinking rosé.

I think we need to look at the talent pool and how we are helping to fill it. I think we need to get into state schools to find people who can sell, people who are super-creative and people who are tech wizards. We can’t expect such talent just to rock up on our doorsteps.

Likewise, what are you loving?

Seeing Josh Cadwallader and Mark Kelly flourish. They are a junior team here at Lida. Josh was brought in as an apprentice designer three years ago at the tender age of 18. After a so-so first six months he started to get into the swing and was soon as good as the guys who’d been at it for years. Then he started nicking briefs and showing me creative work. One day, he shared a concept that was so good it went to the client. So I teamed him up with a great young writer Mark, and right now the two of them are flying.

What would you change if you were prime minister and/or had unlimited resources?

Tax on pensions. For goodness sake, if I’ve worked my arse off all my life and paid all the tax owed, why are you taxing me again? So that would go. But firstly, I’d open an investigation into why the children in this country who are being abused and neglected are being left to live a life of hell. It’s a massive can of worms. There are significantly more children at risk than there are social workers, so they have absolutely no one to turn to. That’s a disgrace.

Who is your biggest hero in advertising?

It’s a few thousand heroines actually. Anyone who has kids and who has managed to succeed has my respect. It’s bloody hard.

Which campaign do you wish you had worked on?

The ‘I bet he drinks Carling Black Label’ campaign that lasted more than 10 years. A beautifully simple idea that we grew up with. This was when ads were entertaining the nation. We need more of that now, I reckon.

Outside of the industry, who inspires you?

My fearless kids. My non-stop husband, who gave up his career to stay at home with them. And my mum and dad. They are incredibly kind. Despite being in their 70s they are holding events to raise money for charity, help out at the food bank once a week and still have the energy to look after our kids. And they never ever say ‘I’m tired’.

Where else do you find inspiration?

TV; documentaries, dramas and tat. People- watching. The supermarket.

And what’s your last word on the industry?

I would love us all to help support creative women who drop out of the industry due to childcare challenges. When an account person returns from a client meeting at 5pm and says the work’s been blown out and we need a new idea for the morning, if you have kids and childcare, it becomes impossible. I have an idea I think that could help solve this. But I need to float it past the FD before I can talk about it here!

Nicky Bullard cut her teeth in a placement at Saatchi & Saatchi over 25 years ago. Under her tenure as executive creative director at Lida, the agency has worked with O2, Boots and Virgin Holidays. She was foreman of D&AD’s direct jury in 2014 and sits on the judging panel for The Drum’s Dream Awards.

This feature was first published in the 5 August issue of The Drum.

The Drum Dream Awards deadline has been extended to 14 August.

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