‘It’s a great equalizer’: why BBH has created a virtual office to snap up new talent

Recruiting the next generation of creative superstars has never been easy for agencies, but with home working the norm it’s been more challenging than ever. The Drum spoke to BBH Singapore chief creative officer Sascha Kuntze about why the agency is gamifying the process in a virtual office.

While most of The Drum’s interviews are conducted virtually these days, speaking to BBH Singapore’s Kuntze in his virtual office space was a new experience. The agency has entirely recreated the office space in the style of a retro computer game via the video calling platform Gather. The accuracy of the representation is very close to the real office, complete with pool tables, meeting rooms and BBH Singapore’s unique ‘red library room’, which runs as a central focal point of the warehouse-style space.

Turned into a computer game that shares a likeness with Stardew Valley or older retro games, it’s a genuinely fun space to interact with people in a way that somewhat mimics a real-life open house.

Kuntze says the project is intended to help show that BBH is a creative and interesting place to work to young talent who could have a myriad of cool job offers. He also hopes it can attract a greater diversity of talent.

“One of the biggest challenges to hiring is finding diverse talent, which may mean people who haven’t studied advertising because they can’t afford it. It’s the reason we pay a full living wage to interns – we want to make sure we are hiring as inclusively as possible. This environment meant any candidates could join in conversations in the space in a more informal way. A young graduate or candidate could be walking around the virtual office space and suddenly join a conversation with our leadership team. It’s a great equalizer,” he explains.

The virtual office space was launched alongside a more formal recruitment process of the annual Association of Advertising & Marketing Singapore (AAMs) Career Fair, which was also carried out virtually this year. Kuntze says the two worked well together as the office space was a more informal setting to meet new talent, while the career fair was a chance to go through portfolios and mimicked more of an interview process.

While exploring the office, you can also find BBH case studies and work displayed in different rooms and across gallery wall spaces, allowing young recruits a chance to familiarize themselves with the sorts of briefs and clients they’ll be working with.

This is particularly important as BBH’s Singapore office drives local and global work for some top-tier creative brands such as Nike, Riot Games and Absolut.

In the long term, Kuntze says the space will be used privately by the agency for all company meetings and social gatherings.

“The team that works on our gaming clients will often use the space for meetings and even playing games together as they can stream the gameplay in the video chat function,” explains Kuntze.

To complete the gaming experience, the virtual office also teased puzzles and storylines that people can follow during a visit. The Drum spent some time snooping around the agency and found the crumbs of cheese that led to a rather large surprise in one of the meeting rooms.

The virtual office is now closed to the public, but the use of virtual spaces to better represent the creativity of a business, outside the usual online video call, is something that may stay open for longer.