As we get ready to shake the dust off 2020, The Drum is rounding up some of the key stories, interviews and work that have shaped the year. As a new (hopefully better) year beckons, The Drum looks back behind-the-scenes at the campaigns that found strength in 2020’s disruption.
While a picture is worth a thousand words, behind every ad is a complete leather-bound book that tells a tale from idea generation to implementation, covering production perils and creative breakthroughs.
A story that rarely gets told is that behind-the-scenes this year, advertisers have had to grapple with how to produce award-worthy creative safely while a raging pandemic runs rampant.
So what happens when Covid-19 shuts down your big Mediterranean shoot mere weeks before filming? Could we survive without overhead shots of tyres carving tracks in the dirt, asked the Skoda team as it endeavoured to advertise its SUV range. Yes, it could, with the team turned to CGI to recreate the ad they’d planned – and it is, quite honestly, hard to tell the difference.
After Virtue picked up the Ikea creative account in February, it didn’t know it would have to embark on their partnership without ever being in the same room. ”It was like building a plane while flying,” admitted Emil Asmussen, Virtue’s creative director, who despite the challenges managed to pull together a beautiful ad, directed remotely during lockdown.
To push the Sky Q Box, the broadcasters in-house Sky Creative Agency devised five stories shot entirely during lockdown, billed as its biggest campaign ever. “Lots of productions in advertising haven’t happened because of coronavirus. We’ve proven that you can make it happen and you can make them as good as they would normally be,“ claimed Rebekah Huggettt, head of advertising and campaigns.
Aware that its products encourage mess, this year Lego set about making it easier for parents to cope without stifling creativity, enlisting the help from the giant of storage – Ikea. Aptly named ’Bygglek’, the collab saw them make cleaning part of the creative process after many prototypes were tested out on their target audience.
Shifting the period paradigm once more with ’Womb Stories’ using an eclectic mix of animation styles, Bodyform and AMV BBDO artfully demonstrated the complex relationship a woman has with her cycle – to much applause. “We just started laughing about how different characters could come to life within a womb, and then set about sewing the tapestry of all these different experiences together,“ recalled executive creative director Nadja Lossgott.
As the US presidential elections were heating up, anti-corruption organization RepresentUS worked with Mischief @ No Fixed Address to deploy ‘deepfake dictators’ to ensure its strictly nonpartisan message cut through the election noise. This marked the first time that deepfake tech was adopted at the audition process, as a dozen actors were given AI ’makeup’ before selections to see who would be the best fit.
With the creative and production process taking over a year, a lot of work went into Disney’s Christmas ad by its in-house team. A labour of love, the animators used a standard 3D pipeline as used in feature-length productions to bring together an emotional story, exploring the relationship between a grandmother and her grandchild.
Each year, Aldi delivers a brilliant mix of storytelling and product-placement in the form of Kevin the Carrot and his heartwarming adventures. Bringing back Kevin for a fifth chapter, this year McCann devised a classic Christmas storyline for a pandemic festive season.
As a brand, Tesco has always aimed to reflect the mood of the country in its advertising. That angle has never been more prescient than at the current moment, with BBH devising a ’No Naughty List’ spot for the supermarket. Daniel Seager, art director at BBH, emphasised that they were particularly keen to lean into the “shared experience of the nation“ and, despite the Covid-19 restrictions on production, he explained how the team tried their best to bring a sense of reality to the ad.
And so, as the new year looms, there’s no doubt that creatives managed to find strength in 2020’s disruption, finding ways to overcome the challenges at hand. While no one could have wished this, lessons learned this year will continue for years to come.
Want to keep apace with the best and brightest creative campaigns and minds in 2021? Keep your eyes on The Drum for more insight, interviews and analysis from your marketing peers.