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A Ukrainian ad agency on creating campaigns despite threat of war

A Ukrainian ad agency on creating campaigns despite threat of war

News reports from Ukraine are currently dominated by fears of a renewed Russian invasion. But everyday life isn’t on hold. Ukrainian businesses still need to advertise, build their brands and engage consumers – meaning that the work of the country’s ad agencies hasn’t stopped.

Creative agency Bickerstaff is based in the country’s capital, Kyiv. It was founded 18 months ago, in the middle of the pandemic and six years into the undeclared war between Russia and Ukraine. In that time, it has already bagged some awards, including the first London International Awards ever given to a Ukrainian agency.

With 17 staff, the indie agency’s clients include banks, wellness clinics, sportswear brands and tourist agencies.

Maryna Chernyavskaya, group head at Bickerstaff, says the war has ”obviously” affected the agency’s work. Ukraine’s digital and commercial infrastructure has been targeted in a series of cyber-attacks since conflict began with Russia in 2014, causing major power outages and disrupting businesses. Just this week the government accused Russia of targeting two banks with denial of service attacks.

”The actual war in the eastern part of Ukraine has been happening for eight years already and the possibility of it getting even harder makes everyone stressed,” Chernyavskaya explains. ”It’s a sad fact, but we’ve got used to it, so we keep working, trying hard to create something meaningful, and keep believing and hoping for the best.”

Ilia Anufrienko is the agency’s founder and creative director. He tells us: ”I have two children born during the war in the east and Bickerstaff was founded during the height of Covid, so stress is part of our DNA. Stress is not a comfortable environment, but it prompts us to look for new formats and ways of communication, and having war around sharpens the desire to create things that will benefit both the planet and business.”