Each year for our Creativity Issue, Ad Age shines the light on young creatives in our annual Cover Contest. We ask talents age 30 and under from around the world to design our opening page, adhering to a particular brief. This year, we asked contestants to create an image that shows how creativity has fueled the industry through the pandemic. Our winners, Copywriter Alexandra Lopez of MullenLowe and Art Director Miguel Bade of J. Romero in the Philippines conceived an image speaking to that and beyond.
'We are the light' takes top prize in Ad Age's Young Creatives Cover Contest
The simple, graphic depiction of a creative toiling away tautly captures the impact of powerful ideas combined with hard work—it can shine a light on the way forward. It’s a message relevant not just during the pandemic but also now, as our industry grapples with how to address the racial unrest and turmoil that continues to afflict the world.
“We may feel hopeless at a time like this, but we persevere every day to create in the confines of our homes because we know our work has the ability to bring light and hope onto others and ourselves,” the winners wrote in their description of the entry. The image is sharp and succinct but, as with many good ideas, it didn’t start out that way. The initial concept featured a man inside a light bulb, formed by its filaments.
Ultimately, “We opted for a much stronger image highlighting the fact that this goes beyond us, that our work can be the source of light for others,” says Lopez. “There’s this hodgepodge of imagery that everyone has in their heads on the [pandemic] situation right now, and we were exploring different art styles on how to cut through that noise and convey our message best. So we decided the simpler the image, the more powerful the message.”
Once again, our honorees hail from the Philippines, which is home to the lion’s share of the winners over the contest’s more than 10 years. When asked why they think this is the case, Lopez says that the “arts don’t get much support here. We think that’s why creatives grab every opportunity they can get to express creativity and to show the world their ideas.”
See Ad Age Creative Director Erik Spooner and Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz discuss the winner and contest finalists and plus an interview with winning team Lopez and Bade at the Future of Creativity event.
And the rest of the best. Here, the finalists share the thinking behind their cover ideas.
Keegan Sanford, senior art director and Megan Williams, copywriter, Havas New York
At its core, creativity is optimism—seeing not just what is, but what could be. So no matter how dark the world gets, looking at it through a creative lens will always reveal a brighter future.
Thomas Oubre, senior copywriter, EP+Co, Greenville, South Carolina
Creativity in the era of COVID-19 has proven itself a daily fight. So to all of the agencies who love to talk about how scrappy they are, now’s the time to prove it. Excited? Yeah, us too.
Saymon Medeiros, creative art director, Wunderman Thompson, United Arab Emirates
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all of us as an industry are living "the Big Bang of communication," where our homes are the embryos for the birth of a new and strong industry.
Sara Goforth, art director, The Martin Agency, Richmond, Virginia
The pressures of this new reality have changed our industry. I wanted to show how our late nights and weekend work is still reaching people. Creativity is rarely easy, but it will always be essential.
Sujay Kamble, art trainee, Taproot Dentsu Mumbai, India
Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way. Everything around us has helped to turn adversity into an advantage because of this creative approach.
Anuar Morad, senior copywriter, Grey New York and Francisco Quiroba, art director, The Community, Miami, Florida
People, as wells as brands, are finding new ways to share and create. So we recreated Times Square showing ads as neighbors helping each other and transforming the industry together with new trends.
Devin Kharpertian, senior copywriter, and Alex Kaufman, associate design director, Madwell, New York
COVID-19 has upended our daily lives in every way—mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can be overwhelming. But each day we make the balance look easy, even (and especially) when it isn’t.
Crista Sukennik, graphic design student, Buffalo, New York
This cover design portrays the difficulty of not seeing others face to face, but staying creative, humorous, and optimistic, nonetheless.
Kshitija Pradhan, senior manager-design; Neha Shetty, content manager; Aliefya Fida, content writer, SoCheers Infotech, Mumbai, India
A beautiful amalgamation of technology and human ingenuity is all you need to get creative to spread awareness. The lockdown isn’t meant for the house, i.e your creative mind.