On Industry Changes

With Isobar’s Jean Lin and Google’s Lorraine Twohill

2020 has seen businesses shift at a pace and scale like never before. The LIONS Live Debate tackled pertinent questions on creativity - talent, business models and future approaches to creativity. Here, Global Executive Chairman of Isobar, Jean Lin and Chief Marketing Officer of Google, Lorraine Twohill, respond to your unanswered questions on how we can brace the industry for more change.

Chief Marketing Officer Google
Global Executive Chairman Isobar

What will the creative approach look like post Covid-19? Lorraine: The elements that make really great work have always been the same and that will never change. Great work is great work. That being said, good creative has always leaned on truth and shared experience and, right now, there is more of that than ever. Although everyone has experienced Covid-19 differently, we are living through a unique shared experience, which gives us more inspiration for powerful storytelling that resonates with people. In addition to that, Covid-19 has introduced so much chaos and new information into our lives, and people’s time is so valuable. I think that will lead to an increased focus on the messages that really matter in creative work. And, ultimately, to more human work.

Jean: Post-Covid-creativity is absolutely in the driving seat, as the world does need now, more than ever, an outpouring of unbridled creativity, at pace, to help solve challenges.

Creativity needs to be in a broader context for the connected society. We need a true value exchange, where businesses and brands respond to consumer needs. The work we have done for clients recently may not be the type of the work that will win in a ‘normal’ awards show, but it is the work that will win in the world and in real consumer’s lives. An example of this for us was helping our client KFC get contactless delivery off the ground, design apps to allow for priority ordering and create TikTok videos that celebrated the ground zero workers in Wuhan in real-time. Co-solutioning and partnership - with collaboration across disciplines, businesses and industries will also shift the approach to creativity and drive better sustainable growth. Think about it - even competitive labs are now co-developing vaccines to accelerate the discovery process. We need to think of our work as an open teaming platform and embrace one another’s ideas.

As the market shifts towards eCommerce, what approach should be taken by the brands to design better consumer experiences in the new normal? Jean: The trends we’ve seen over the past few years will accelerate: from eCommerce, to Everywhere Commerce, to Total Commerce - every brand moment can become a moment to shop. You need technology to create experiences at scale, but you can’t underestimate how important creativity is in shaping customer experience in commerce. Brands should ask these key questions: how will my commerce offering make people’s lives better and easier - what problem does it solve? What will make my brand memorable and what do I want to be remembered for? What will ensure my product offering and brands resonate so people don’t get bored of my products?

It all comes down to bringing together the point of inspiration with the point of transaction. Use every brand moment as a shopping moment, but unleash creativity to avoid commoditisation and mediocrity. Marketing conversations that focus too much on efficiency, and not on values and transformation, will have consequences and brands could suffer as we move to a new normal.

When we talk about creativity serving a purpose, how can a brand balance its ROI and serve its purpose at the same time? Lorraine: This question assumes that ROI and purpose are at odds, which I don’t agree with. Purpose cannot be separate from the business. All great companies, products, and brands, have purpose built directly into their business model and their values. Creativity tells the story of how a company’s products and services serve that purpose. If you are asking yourself this question, it suggests that your ROI and your purpose are not aligned. Moving forward gives us the responsibility to work towards human development, as well as supporting the environment. How can we balance and work towards both together?

Jean: Business development and human development are not mutually exclusive. In time, our role will shift more and more toward helping our clients’ businesses sustainably thrive for the long term — meeting unmet consumer needs and creating shareholder value today, while making the world a better place for tomorrow. COVID-19 has accelerated technology adoption and has created a more connected and transparent world, and so it's not a question of balancing one OR the other, but one AND the other, and how these two ambitions can be leveraged for growth. The pandemic brought out creativity from regular people over the last few months. What's your favorite creative you've found outside of the industry? Lorraine: We are living in a moment where people are required to be creative in every element of their lives, because they have to be. For example, I loved John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” web series, but he didn’t start out planning to build some giant audience. He started it because he genuinely needed to hear some good news himself and wanted to share that with others. There are so many examples of this everyday creativity, from YouTube choirs to virtual graduation celebrations. People will always find new ways to build human connections and make others feel special, no matter what the constraints.

Further insights from LIONS Live and WeTransfer’s Ideas Report

Natascha Chamuleau

Chief Advertising Officer, WeTransfer

Creatives tend to adapt well when it comes to change. So when Covid-19 accelerated change, the industry responded with new ventures, original ideas and thoughtful reflection. With doubt being the only certainty, some found it easier to take risks or think differently and I think we’re better off as a result. A recurring theme in our annual Ideas Report is discovering where inspiration comes from. In 2018, the results showed real life experiences—like traveling, talking to friends, and visiting galleries — were the main drivers. Digital experiences just didn’t live up to their potential (yet). There’s a real need to build better online spaces for idea generation. Has a global pandemic accelerated the creation of these spaces, or are they still hit-and-miss? Where did we turn to fuel our creativity during lockdown? These are the questions we asked in this year's report — keep an eye out for the results on 2 December 2020.

Simon Cook

Managing Director, Cannes Lions

In his talk for LIONS Live, Scott Galloway quoted Vladimir Lenin, who acknowledged: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. As Scott rightly deduced, we are in those weeks right now - rapid digital transformation, mass lockdowns and a laser focus on corporate responsibility: all of these aspects have forced brands to react and change at lightning speed. There is no way to predict what future new change might be around the corner, and it’s easy to fall into short-termism, particularly as the roots of an economic recession set in. But right now, it’s more important than ever to invest in brand-building. Don’t forgo creativity and go dark. In her LIONS Live talk, A Guide to Creative Survival our Head of Awards, Susie Walker explained the reasoning for this investment even in recessive times. ‘Brands need to understand, especially now, which emotional connections will create long-term associations. Now is the time to make memories.’ As the Lion-winners from previous recessions demonstrate, advertisers that drive engagement through brand-building creativity now will be the fittest in the future.