Creating Together in a Post-Coronavirus World

We’re still right in the thick of this mess, the Coronavirus pandemic, and with no signs of it letting up. In fact, it’s just the opposite; more cases are reported daily, around the globe. Just about a week ago a little less than 200,000 people globally had been infected while over 7,500 people have died.

In order to try and stop the spread of the virus, the globe’s inhabitants are retreating inward, at least most of them. “Stay home, stay healthy” seems to be the motto of the day. If ET were to re-visit Earth right now, he’s probably wonder, “Where did everybody go?”

Businesses are shutting down and boarding up, as if they’re dealing with some big storm surge. Eating places are delivery or take-out only, if they’re even open. Schools are closing until further notice and most modes of transportation have ground to a halt or have severely curtailed their routes. Grocery stores have become almost barren, especially the paper goods and beverage aisles.

Most everyone is self-quarantining. Very few people are on the roads unless they just have to be.

Yet, the virus persists and is spreading. Damn!

TogetherWeCreate

Image source: Unsplash.

Writing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Rohan Reddy says, “Our hands have never been cleaner, human contact is being frowned upon, people are getting sick or dying. We don’t care much about advertising or design anymore; mortality is our reality, we care about surviving.

The executive creative director for the McCann Africa network continues, “When 2020 comes to an end, the world we live in will probably look very different from the one we said goodbye to in 2019. And it is impossible to predict what this new world will look like.”

I agree with him. The world is in uncharted waters with this virus. We’re doing good to react, let alone react in some timely manner. Forget about planning and acting on the plan. This stage is in its infancy, though it is forging ahead.

making more masks

Some corners of the world are doing better than others; Italy seems to have their act together while the U.S. is falling behind and will be doing good to “fight a good fight.”

Reddy again, “Creativity will save the world. People will look to our poets, our artists, our musicians, our dancers, our inventors, our architects, our engineers, our writers and designers to redefine humanity’s purpose post-Covid-19. Businesses will look to their advertising agencies and design studios to redefine how we consume everything from food to fashion to travel.

“Because, at the end of 2020, it will not be business as usual. It will be something completely different. We will spend our money differently, we will save our money differently and we will probably make our money differently too.”

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

We won’t have to wait until the end of this year for business and living habits to become different. That is happening right now. Our lifestyles and business practices are changing, out of necessity, right before our eyes. We will be “ever-adapting” continuously through the rest of this year and into the near future.

Creativity will play a vital role in how we think, solve problems and present solutions. Creativity won’t be the exclusive territory of advertising. Hopefully, creative thinking and development will be in hyper-drive so that society can be the benefactor.

I think most intelligent people will adopt a much more sincere form of togetherness, a true multi-partisanship. We, as a society, really have no choice. We have to create through togetherness since our survival depends on it.

Past actions of stupidity and greed will be looked upon incredulously. There will be no room for them in our future. Disease, like this COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate when it comes to these fallacies; it also doesn’t play politics.

italy on lockdown

No matter how long it takes to save ourselves from this pandemic, creativity will and must play a part. That’s creativity in all forms, not just in the creative arts.

Together we need to rebuild into a better, much more aware future. The creative minds among us have a responsibility to craft a sound and viable and livable future for our society.

I agree with Mr. Reddy. As a creative, I can’t do this on my own. I can, however, do it together in forming a creative front to help lead us in progressing forward. We owe it to ourselves, our children, their children, as well as the planet.

Let us create together!

Quotes on Advertising & Creativity

Greetings and good day to ‘ya! Here’s your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

Feel free to share.

red-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

Nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
David Ogilvy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

In the advertising business, a good idea can inspire a great commercial. But a good insight can fuel a thousand ideas, a thousand commercials. Phil Dusenberry, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.       Maya Angelou

The heart of creativity is discipline. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

If you are writing about baloney, don’t try to make it Cornish hen because that is the worst kind of baloney there is. Just make it darned good baloney. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Fun without sell gets nowhere, but sell without fun tends to become obnoxious. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Yes, I sell people things they don’t need. I can’t, however, sell them something they don’t want. Even with advertising. Even if I were of a mind to. John E. O’Toole, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don’t forget that, all of you who don’t have them. John Elliott, Jr., member, Advertising Hall of Famered-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words. Ernest Elmo Calkins, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

 

Now, paraphrasing Seth Godin, Go Raise A Ruckus!

Creativity in the Corporate Ivory Tower? Sheesh, surely you jest?!

This is not a whodunit, nor is it a Perry Mason murder mystery about the Case of the Kangaroo Court. What it is, however, is the Business Case for Creativity.

An excerpt from a review of the book itself reveals, “Debate in the advertising and marketing industries has raged for decades: does creativity make advertising more effective? Or is it just the folly of creative people looking to win their next award?

“The arguments of both advocates and cynics have until recently been based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence. James Hurman’s seminal creative effectiveness book The Case for Creativity brings the debate to a conclusion with three decades of international research into the link between creativity and business results.”

Tom Roach, BBH’s (Bartle-Bogle-Hegarty) effectiveness head, was asked by Thinkbox to present the business case for creativity at their spring event. Inspired by Thinkbox’s own  innovative slide desk, the presentation he gave brought together the best evidence for the value of creativity in marketing communications. Here are excerpts from that presentation along with my own take on the case for creativity.

Case for creaivity

Simply stated, without creativity one has nothing. The beautifully executed creative plan of an advertising campaign can not be overshadowed by something comprised of “just the facts.” The campaign must have charisma, its own personality, to be believable. However, being believable doesn’t necessarily mean playing it safe or conservative.

Take this attitude from Keith Wood of Unilever in his Forward of the book:

Forward-Case for Creativity

That may be the case but the industry still has a ways to go and many more folks need to know. While this may be true, can we say there is a crisis in creativity? If so, how so and what is it?

First, let’s take a step or two back and ask: “What do we mean by creative?”

Well, there’s this . . .

Novel . . .

And this . . .

Good ideas . . .

And this somewhat in-your-face guideline . . .

Make it different . . .

Okay, all good and fruitful definitions and clarifications of what creativity is or entails. As with several key issues in the business world, creativity is complicated, especially when the problem is multifaceted and everyone on the marketing committee has a different viewpoint.

But, is there a crisis in creativity? Well, let’s see.

Trends Wrkg Against

Campaign effectiveness has fallen (UL), Budgets have been falling (UR), Short-termination has been rising (LL), Long-term cases have lost efficiency (LR)

Ad Blocking

Hmmmmm, looking kinda murky, isn’t it? Let’s consider this :

Rising Sea

 

Smart Phones

Autos

Ah, yes, nothing like differentiation in car ads!

 

Case for creaivity

 

Creative Companies

S&P 500

Disruption

Creative Execution

Emotional

Ad Slogans

While the above slides are true, I vote for more thoughtfulness and less cutesyness. In some advertising, the ad could have the audio muted (saying what the ad is about) with just the video or image shown, and most folks wouldn’t be able to tell what product is being promoted. Let’s face it, cars and cologne can be interchangeable. And, I guess, trucks are destined to be driven only in the “out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere” scenarios.

Creativity Brings

I’d like to add at least one more: Intangibles. Sometimes you just don’t know what makes a good ad good. It just works.

 

Our Objective

I definitely agree with this last poster. Effectiveness is key to creative execution. Smart creativity is a must. Play to one’s audience still applies but do so without insulting their intelligence. I’ll go out on a limb and say that, generally speaking, a twenty-something copywriter has little to no understanding of how best to relate to the “senior plus” set, unless he can relate to his grandparents.

Case for Creativity Book

If you want to view a more in-depth portrayal of this presentation, see the Business Case for Creativity. It’s not your ordinary slide deck. Neither is the book on which the presentation is based.

Meow Wolf’s Art World Raises Millions Highlighting Creative Economy’s Potential. Houston, take note! (Part 1)

Meow who? Wolf, Meow Wolf. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment group that is attracting audiences of all ages in its immersive art world.

Meow Wolf is comprised of over 400 employees creating and supporting art across a variety of media, including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, video production, cross-reality (AR/VR/MR), music, audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming, performance, and more!

Meow Wolf creates immersive and interactive experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. This includes art installations, video and music production, and extended reality content.

 

Their first permanent installation, the THEA Award-winning House of Eternal Return, (HOER) launched in March 2016 with support from Game of Thrones creator, George R.R. Martin. Inside, guests discover a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and an expansive narrative amidst surreal, maximalist, and mesmerizing art exhibits. Located in Santa Fe, HOER features a children’s learning center, a cafe and bar, and a music venue.

ImpactAlpha called this choose-your-own adventure, art installation, “one of the most successful examples of the creative economy.”

Meow Wolf champions otherness, weirdness, challenging norms, radical inclusion, and the power of creativity to change the world. Houston, are you listening?

Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return

Legally registered as a public benefit corporation and certified as a Benefit Corporation, or B Corp, Meow Wolf values investing in their creative team, giving back to their community, and doing their part to better the environment.

Through ticket, gift shop, food and beverage sales, and events, Meow Wolf is pulling in more than $1 million a month in revenues. George R. Martin, author of the novels adapted for HBO’s Game of Thrones series, is Meow Wolf’s landlord in Santa Fe. He’s also an investor and creative advisor to the firm.

This company, according to ImpactAlpha, emphasizes the potential of the creative economy. “This does not mean impact capital is not flowing to the creative economy—it is just not doing so on purpose,” Laura Callanan of Upstart CoLab told ImpactAlpha.

Meow Wolf firmly believes that accomplished artists must be compensated on an equal level with other skilled, in-demand professionals. Successful businesses must give back to — and participate energetically in — their communities.

Wolf provides financial assistance, expertise, and other forms of active support, and is excited to support innovative, community-focused art and social projects.

Meow Wolf’s path echoes what last year, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Callanan wrote: “When creative people pursue businesses that have a social purpose, they can have a catalytic impact on job creation, the economy, and social well-being.”

Asset 1

Meow Wolf’s jaw-dropping 10 year journey of an anarchic art collective has grown into a multi-million dollar business. According to their web site, Wolf grew from having no access to blowing a new, profitable portal into the art world.

This tumultuous journey has yielded new ways of participating in culture and entertainment for not only these artists, but for the people from all walks of life who engage in and are inspired by their work. With a mission to provide access to and inspire creativity in everyone, Meow Wolf continues to experience growing pains, while continuing to reach for new impossibles.

Does Houston have anything like this? While Houston is considerably larger than Santa Fe, the expansive geography lends itself to challenges for cultivating a strong and viable creative economy. Sure there are the museums, NASA, Space Center Houston as well as several start-ups in and around the Texas Medical Center serving as a harbinger of creativity and innovation.

Houston logo

But is that enough? One might argue that it is not.

Houston doesn’t seem to have a “meow wolf” instigator-like venue or organization to stimulate its own creative economy. Not that the city hasn’t tried. The Houston Arts Alliance, Greater Houston Partnership, Only in Houston/OiH Creatives, American Advertising Federation Houston are but a few of select organizations who have tried, and are still doing so, to pull together what it takes to stimulate the region’s creative economy.

As Meow Wolf would tell anyone or any city, this takes continuous effort and a belief that what one is doing is worth it for everyone. That remains a challenge for Houston, and one it must overcome.

 

 

This is one Whopper we pray will never find its way onto BK’s menu.

WARNING: If you’re squeamish, prepare yourself and, please, don’t throw up on your computer monitor!

burger-king-moldy-whopper-2020

        Burger King highlights “the beauty of no artificial preservatives” in its Moldy Whopper campaign.
Burger King

In a word, BLEAHHHHH!!!

Last week, according to Adweek, Burger King unveiled a global ad campaign  highlighting its commitment to dropping all artificial preservatives. Such campaigns, while laudable, come and go somewhat often without generating much more than passing interest.

This one is truly bizarre. It tests just how far Burger King can virtually thrust its product down its customers’ throats before they gag.

The Moldy Whopper campaign, created through a partnership between three agencies, features intriguingly high-resolution photography and video of a Whopper being consumed not by humans, but rather by the horribly incredible passage of time itself. In other words, we get to see a Whopper rotting. Lovely!

Adweek reports that each ad shows a Whopper whose ingredients are being engulfed in mold, alongside a date stamp letting you know how long the burger has been exposed to the elements (too long, but typically about a month). The tagline, are you ready for this, describes the images as “the beauty of no artificial preservatives.”

Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

The work promotes the brand’s pledge to drop all artificial preservatives, which it has accomplished across much of Europe and 400 locations in the United States. By the end of the year, Burger King says it will have removed artificial preservatives from Whoppers in all U.S. locations. That’s nice and laudable.

I’m still feeling nauseous.

“At Burger King, we believe that real food tastes better,” (no kidding) said Fernando Machado, CMO for Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International. “That’s why we are working hard to remove preservatives, colors and flavors from artificial sources from the food we serve in all countries around the world.”

burger-king-moldy-whopper-outdoor-1-2020

Burger King

I’m sorry but this just looks gross! It’s certainly not appealing at all. I get what they’re trying to convey but I wonder if BK ever considered giving out Tums, Alka Seltzer or nausea tablets with their meals.

In addressing reality, Adweek posits that the mold campaign might be challenging to common sense, but it was also a difficult one to accomplish in terms of craft and required months to achieve.

“We are very proud of crafting this idea,” said Björn Ståhl, executive creative director for Ingo, one of three agencies involved. “Mold grows in a very inconsistent way. We had to work for several months, with different samples, to be able to showcase the beauty of something which is usually considered undesirable.”

” . . . the beauty of something undesirable.” Really? Sort of sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’m still feeling nauseous.

burger-king-moldy-whopper-outdoor-2-2020

Burger King

So how will it go over? According to Adweek’s reporting, in the short term, the likely answer is: not great. Head-scratching advertising tends to generate quite a bit of short-term negative publicity, usually thanks to morning talk shows and late-night monologues.

And some within advertising will call the work “awards bait,” knowing that juries at Cannes Lions and other awards festivals tend to swoon over concepts that challenge every seemingly obvious but unwritten rule of advertising, such as “Don’t make your food look like it will literally kill people.”

But in the process of sparking debate and consternation, the campaign is also likely to resonate across the industry and encourage other brands to take similar moves, knowing that the ideas will be easier to sell when something so “off the wall” (that’s one way to put it) has already been sold to a major global corporation.

burger-king-moldy-whopper-vertical-1-2020

Burger King

This campaign will indeed show something else:  How strong are BK’s customers’ stomachs? This is revolting no matter how “beautiful” the photography. Just because a global corporation has gone along with this hideous idea doesn’t make it one to copy. After all, how many global CEO’s have signed off on something that should never have come out of committee?

What will definitely be interesting to see will be the types of “toned down” ideas and executions coming forth that are based on the Moldy Whopper campaign.

In the meantime, BK needs to supply their restaurants with plenty of Tums and barf bags, just in case.

 

PS . . . Thanks to David Griner (@griner), creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek’s podcast, “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad” for source material for this blog.

Handwritten OOH Boards Deal Delicate Subject Gut Punch. Kudos!!

In most circles, any discussion of mental health is still taboo. On this side of the “pond” we often pretend mental health is something other than what it really is, a disease, which can and should be treated.

In the UK, mental health is being put to the forefront by some interesting outdoor boards.   The campaign is for Samaritan, a charity who tackles mental health and its challenges.

Featured in Ad Age, the campaign by Mother London directly takes on mental health by asking actual men, not actors, to share their stories and opinions. A unique approach the campaign uses is to feature handwritten words of advice from real-life men who have previously contacted the Samaritans feeling depressed or suicidal.

Running at locations like train stations, the boards are aimed at men when they are most susceptible, when they may be considering hurting themselves or pondering suicide. The campaign also includes social media ads.

Mental Health Billboards in UK

According to AdAge’s reporting, the campaign comes as Samaritans releases results of a nationwide survey, which shows two in five (41%) men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 do not seek support when they need it because they prefer to solve their own problems.

Paul McDonald, executive director of external affairs at Samaritans, says: “We didn’t want to create just another awareness campaign. So we asked men to share their stories with us. Men who have been through tough times and come through the other side.

“They wrote some words down, and we’ve got those words on the posters to inspire and encourage other men going through difficult times to seek help, and to contact Samaritans if they’re ready to talk.”

Being in the U.S., I can’t help but wonder what kind of effect this sort of campaign would have on men here in the states. My guess is that results would echo the UK’s results if not prove more so. Most men like to solve our own problems or not even admit we have one.

Kudos to the Brits for trying to face this problem head on. Again, creativity in this case is best showcased rather simply but directly.

More OOH Mental Board

So what, dear readers, do you think of this campaign? Think it will work. Think it will do what it’s designed to do?

Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your comments!

Quotes . . .Quotes . . .Quotes. And then some!

Greetings and good day to ‘ya! Here’s your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

Feel free to share.

It’s the start of the week. Have some fun. NOW!

Enjoy!!

smartquote-top The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people. —James Randolph Adams, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising did not invent the products or services which called forth jobs, nor inspire the pioneering courage that built factories and machinery to produce them. What advertising did was to stimulate ambition and desire – the craving to process, which is the strongest incentive to produce.– Bruce Barton, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.  Vince Lombardi

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

In writing advertising it must always be kept in mind that the customer often knows more about the goods than the advertising writers because they have had experience in buying them, and any seeming deception in a statement is costly, not only in the expense of the advertising but in the detrimental effect produced upon the customer, who believes she has been misled. — John Wanamaker, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth. — Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

There is no such thing as ‘soft sell’ and ‘hard sell.’ There is only ‘smart sell’ and ‘stupid sell.’ —Charles H. Brower, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. – Arthur C. Clarke

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.       – Bernard Baruch

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. – Edgar Allan Poe smartquote-bottom