How COVID-19 has Changed Everything

Emerging from a crisis into a world where consumer behaviour is constantly changing has been challenging, but the creative community has shown its resilience, producing some of its most impressive work. The future will now entail merging lessons from the pandemic into new ways of working where the onus is on continuous improvement.

For this year’s Lions jurors assessing two years’ of work, there were some key differences between work made before and after the pandemic. “Pre-pandemic you could see high budgets, different points of view, trying to hack all the conversations around the world,” says Luiz Sanchez, Chief Creative Officer Almap BBDO and Outdoor Lions Jury President. Post-pandemic was a different story.

“This work was really fresh, not only because it was new, but because the approach was a lot more human.”

Shop local

The pandemic pushed brands and individuals to focus more on community values. Some of the most successful work saw mammoth corporations invest in local businesses. Mastercard’s ‘Roadside Market’, created with McCann Bucharest, won a Gold Lion in Creative eCommerce for literally putting Romanian farmers on the map.

“There’s a real desire to keep cashflow within local communities,”

says Carla Buzasi, CEO, WGSN.

“We saw these traits in previous years, but the pandemic has accelerated this personal responsibility to the people around us.”

Brands that fit themselves into those local stories will be successful.

‘Roadside Market’ by McCann Bucharest by Mastercard

Winner of a Gold and Silver Lion in Creative eCommerce

Best of both worlds

Consumers have grown used to brands working harder to adapt to at-home life. Once the world goes back to normal they aren’t going to forget it. “We went from a moment of surviving in that atmosphere, in that ecosystem, to actually thriving,” says Jeannie Weaver, VP Retail Marketing, AT&T. Many solutions that started out as temporary will become permanent. “Consumers have figured out: this is simple for me, this makes my life easier.”

Here Andrea Mallard, Chief Marketing Officer, Pinterest provides insights into how consumers have taken it upon themselves to transform their habits and re-prioritise their time.

Watch the full video On Demand.

Retailers will have to balance online and offline, even if they were pure bricks-and-mortar pre-pandemic. “That hybrid experience is much more important now,” says Selfridges Creative Director Hannah Emslie. “As customers, our expectations have changed.” Diesel and Accenture Interactive launched ‘HypeRoom’, an interactive, digital showroom, during the pandemic. Now, says Diesel CEO Massimo Piombini, it’s a permanent feature.

Massimo Piombini, CEO of Diesel, shares how his innovative approach to augmented reality has made the brand a game-changer in the fashion world with its first fully integrated virtual store, the HypeRoom.

Watch the full video On Demand.

Maintain the momentum

The world turned upside down last year, and many brands responded with next-level generosity. But, says Tiffany Rolfe, Global Chief Creative Officer R/GA and Creative eCommerce Lions Jury President, “you don’t need a pandemic or a racial crisis to be able to help and support the community around you.” When it’s over, it’ll be up to brands and agencies to keep that momentum going.

As well as galvanising brands to do better, the crises the world has faced over the last 18 months have pushed everyone to their creative limits: filming from home, collaborating via Zoom, crunched production schedules. It’s been hard, but it showed what we’re capable of. “Creativity, especially in these difficult times, has to come from being able to find new ways to use media and the consumer journey to adapt,” says Bruno Bertelli, Global Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Worldwide. “Creativity today is about flexibility.”

Reddit and R/GA San Francisco took its Social & Influencer Grand Prix-winning Superb Owl campaign from pitch to sign-off in less than a week. Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta created its Gold winning campaign, ‘N23’, with Action Moscow, in just 10 days. As Piyush Pandey, Ogilvy, said: “I’ve found that the more that you’re pushed, the better self comes out.”

Superb Owl | Reddit

R/GA San Francisco

Winner of 6 Lions including the Social & Influencer Grand Prix

The pandemic pushed brands to be better, and it's up to them to maintain that positive momentum. In the new Creative Business Transformation Lions, almost half of the nine Lions awarded came from entries in the Brand Purpose & Impact category, indicating that many successful transformations begin with a pursuit of purpose.

This is exemplified by the inaugural Creative Brand Transformation Grand Prix winner, Carrefour and Marcel Paris’ 'Act for Food'. The supermarket’s transformation was built out of its 'Black Supermarket' work, which won the Creative Effectiveness Lions Grand Prix in 2019. “It’s not about brands attaching themselves to a cause, but rather, taking a good look at themselves, their negative or positive impact, and committing to transformation,” says Marcel’s Co-head of Strategic Planning, Sarah Lemarié.

To discover more insights and content on this theme, watch this selection of films On Demand on Cannes Lions Live.