Will COVID-19 make us ‘sick’ again when the next round of advertising award show submissions open
or will we find a cure?

By ADK Singapore Posted August 21, 2020 In COVID-19

With the pandemic to date already infecting millions and killing tens of thousands of people worldwide, will the advertising community try and find new ways to gain for themselves an award or two from work they feel has contributed to saving lives?

While many businesses have suffered setbacks, the advertising community is still working away to try and remain relevant. Brands still need their messages to be put out there, especially on the social sphere and now budgets are down, there’s a need from most, if not all clients in the agency roster to develop their own COVID-19 content.

Since many projects have been cancelled or just shelved until 2021, certain agencies now have a little more time up their sleeves, which means some have been developing specific ‘COVID-19’ initiative briefs for their teams to crack on with. I say good for them, if they are helping out their clients and the community to share ways to stay safe, it’s a positive thing.

So, when all of this settles down and our regular working lives start to go back to a semi-normal state, what will become of all those good initiatives that were developed during the crisis?

Those initiatives did what they were supposed to do at the time right? –

They informed, educated and spread messages to the wider community on safety and acts of kindness, along with heaps of ideas on how to look after one self during isolation in ultra-creative ways. Clients were extremely thankful and the agencies showed how it could master the production of content from inside the living room of its staff (with minimal equipment we were told). The work even got a whole bunch of shares and likes from being paraded across unique touch points. Not just that, they were being published in all the industry mags as well, and I think from what the agency case film documented, ‘may have even saved some lives’ –

‘Hell yeah we did’ the Zoom chat erupts.

Fast forward to awards calendar for 2021 and the question is…

When the emails from award and marketing shows start lining their inboxes, will every like-minded creative be searching for new and potential categories to submit their COVID-19 initiative work into?

Some might, others may stand against it.

The news is that some people in the industry are anonymously already petitioning against any COVID-19 ad entries.

Erik Oster from AgencySpy writes:

A creative at a major holding company agency, who wishes to remain anonymous, is starting a petition entitled Cannes We Not? to prevent capitalizing on a world crisis from Cannes consideration. The petition calls on all major awards shows to place a ban on all COVID-19-related entries. After all, brands are already responding to the crisis in questionable ways.

“With COVID-19 affecting businesses and advertising plans, brands are using it as another opportunity to get likes, shares, engagements, coverage, and awards,” the petition reads, reminding readers that with many around the world dying, “healthcare systems are being overwhelmed, xenophobia is running rampant” and as a major economic crisis looms, “we should be thinking about how we can help people. Because this is not an ad. It’s not the Super Bowl, or a new holiday. This is not a ‘cultural moment.’ It’s a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The petition argues: “If we can get the major award shows to place a ban on COVID-related entries, we will send a stronger message about how our advertising budgets should be spent during a global humanitarian crisis.”

Interested in signing the petition, it’s here, you can sign it anonymously if you feel it’s something important to you.

To put it bluntly, what is the ultimate goal?

Submitting those initiatives to award shows in the hope of gaining something shiny for your efforts or, contributing that money and time to supporting other related initiatives without having to shout about it?

Benetton took the path a few years back to use a humanitarian crisis as an opportunity to brand themselves and Ogilvy sent a TV into space for the Rohingyas – they both received criticism.

Perhaps the cure then should be for creatives to stand together to help agencies, brands and award shows understand the importance of supporting their creativity for the right reasons.
They should realise that when the world is facing a global crisis, ‘an award’ should not be the end goal.

And finally, below is the link, where you can apparently ‘vote on’ for its creativity in helping brands spread their support for the situation. Do you think we will see some of this work entered into award shows next year?

You can read the award show responses in the article, where the Gerety Awards announced it would not be accepting any COVID-19 entries and others are suggesting the work “should be embraced, rather than disregarded,” – Should it?