The crisis calls for the start of a new form of creativity and communication
One of the most horrible statements I have read about the crisis in our industry in the last few days was the justification of the official cancellation of the Cannes Lions: “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark.“ (Philip Thomas, Chairman, Cannes Lions)
Seriously? – Can it really be true that we, of all people, as communication experts, are not able to create campaigns that set benchmarks right now? Not only should we be able to, but we must. Right now is the time to rethink old outdated patterns and set new benchmarks, by which creative excellence and great communication are measured. And the first thing we need to do is to come off our high horse of self-praise.
Let’s stick with Cannes Lions for a moment. The competition budgets agencies spend every year for such opulent festivals result in costs with which one could feed whole villages luxuriously for years. As for Cannes: The festival costs agencies between US $8,000 and US $20,000 per person, including festival passes, accommodation, and running costs, and up to $3 million to submit campaigns to be considered for awards – not counting events and yachts. All that, so that agencies can pride themselves on spots that get a lot of attention but rarely sell. The rationale: We need awards to prove creativity to clients. If that is the only benchmark for our work then Thomas is absolutely right with his statement. But let’s agree to disagree and this is not about not having these kinds of festivals at all but:
The post-crisis world raises a clear question: are we facing a decade of dead, broke budgets and clients obsessed with technology-driven results, or is the field wide open for more positive, collaborative and infectious change?
In yesterday’s world, everyone was longing to create “purpose” – today’s crisis demonstrates that very few have understood what “purpose” actually means.
There are already some good examples, especially from abroad:
What does a luxury fashion designer, a jeans and condom brand have in common? – The courage to communicate despite collapsing budgets and the ability to generate campaigns that are socially relevant and will remain unforgotten long after this crisis is over.
1. Armani did not only donate a part of his private fortune but also immediately deferred his production to produce medical overalls instead. And if that wasn’t enough, he is also using this time to push a sustainable fashion agenda.
2. Levi’s now broadcasts live living-room concerts of local artists on Instagram every day at 5:01 pm. These concerts not only bring joy to the fans of the brand, but more substantially, Levi’s donates to charitable causes, at the choosing of the artist playing.
3. And what does a brand do, that earns its money through physical contact in times like these? Trojan Condoms is leading the way with exceptional communication. Under the hashtags: #TrojanCondoms #SextUsInstead they urge individuals to use the emoji “🍆” to slide into their Twitter DMs to get a free personal lubricant or vibrators in order to resist the urge to leave home and promoting self-love in these difficult times.
But back to us communication experts. Now is the time to build the agency that truly meets market needs. This agency is an agency where data analytics, innovation strategists, experience designers, business transformation strategists and media analysts unite, collaborate and create. Creation will take on a much more important role, because it will no longer be about “attention at any price”. Pure product communication will play a subordinate role for some time while brand communication will take center stage and will be the highest priority. Ideas will require more complexity now, and in the future, and must above all, be relevant in real time. The creative model will be participatory. The core of the “creative team” will no longer consist only of copywriters and designers – a relic from the print era.
The future of creativity is about collaboration, courage, and flexibility for the brand and the agency.
If you believe that the cards will be reshuffled after the crisis, then it is even more important to change your strategy now and show that we as agencies are there for our clients, in this moment, no matter what the economic situation or bank account may say. Because one thing has not changed: We still have our experience, our creativity, and our know-how and we must use it now for the benefit of our society and clients.
1. We proactively write our pitches
After the crisis, the pressure to remain relevant will be high. Hardly anyone will be able to afford long pitch processes – neither the client nor the agency. That’s why we now have the unique opportunity to use that time and turn the pitch process around. We offer communication workshops “at cost” for brands that not only need it but really mean it. To do this, we have put together an interdisciplinary team of top-class brand, media and communication experts from our entire network to challenge brand and communication strategies and quickly build prototypical approaches for todays and tomorrows world.
2. We have developed a #stayathome production kit
The revolution of classic production processes was long overdue. The crisis has shown us what smart production means today. For this reason, we have created a remote production kit, which enables us to produce creative commercials even in times of Corona and despite all shooting restrictions. Via live stream, our clients can participate in the shoot from their homes and oversee both the set and the live image from the camera on their own screens. This protects the health of everyone involved, saves travel costs, and in many cases time. Our creative department is thus prepared for the crisis and still capable of producing creative spots. We believe that many of our clients will continue to take up this offer long after the crisis is over.
3. We have created a crisis-proof BI
Nothing is as important as knowing where and how we reach consumers – nothing has changed so far. But Corona has turned the entire media consumption as we knew it upside down. Target groups are shifting massively, the relevance of entire media categories is changing dramatically. Anyone who communicates now must have transparent data that is updated daily and on which they can rely. We can make all of this visible in real-time via our new BI and share the knowledge with our clients but also with other agencies.
Let’s get back to the beginning: Are we able to create campaigns that set benchmarks during the crisis? If not now, then when? With collaboration and courage, we can now create the (creative) world of tomorrow that we always wanted.