Agency Brief: AICP Awards move online
Yet another industry event has been disrupted by COVID-19.
Matt Miller, president and CEO of The AICP, announced that all live events surrounding its 2020 awards will be moved to a virtual platform. That spans the AICP Post Awards, the AICP Next Awards and the AICP Show at MoMA. The events were previously rescheduled from May and June to sometime in the fall. The virtual events will now take place in June, and anyone can join free of charge.
Miller says shortlists will “soon be announced.”
“As the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold at a rapid pace, it’s become clear that, for the health and safety of our community, it would not be a responsible act to hold live events around the AICP Awards for 2020,” Miller says. “Furthermore, understanding the fiscal realities of the post-pandemic world, holding ticketed events would not reflect an understanding of the many challenges our community and guests will be facing.”
Be a hero, not a hoarder
There’s nothing worse than a hoarder, as we’ve all come to learn during this pandemic. Even worse are those who are hoarding supplies first responders need to protect themselves and us from disease. In an effort to get people to donate their medical masks to first responders, New York-based agency Fancy created a series of PSAs (see an example below) for Mask-Match.com, a peer-to-peer platform helping deliver N95 and surgical masks to healthcare workers on the front lines. Mask Match, launched last month, picked up significant steam after Natalie Portman came out in support of it. Fancy hopes with its PSAs that call for people to be heroes not hoarders, even more people will be drawn to the site and donate. As for why the founders of Mask Match created the initiative, the issue was personal.
“When I found out my mom, a lifelong nurse, was working on the front lines without proper medical gear, I had to do something,” says Liz Klinger, co-founder of Mask Match. “I don’t want my mom to die.”
Thoughts from Jon Lee, principal at The Richards Group
Ad Age recently caught up with Jon Lee, principal of brand management at The Richards Group, to discuss how the agency is working around COVID-19 to help clients like The Salvation Army get messages out. Lee says The Richards Group, the largest independent agency in the U.S., handles “everything” for The Salvation Army including public relations, social, strategy, creative, etc. The agency has a “protocol” for natural disasters that The Salvation Army responds to—“for hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, anything they would respond to,” Lee says. However, “this one caught everyone off guard.”
Lee says in any situation The Richards Group has to help The Salvation Army rapidly “communicate how they are responding." In this case, they did so from afar, and got messaging out within 24 hours. “Fortunately we had a very nimble team and collaborative client,” says Lee.
Lee says operating as an independent agency, without the backing of a holding company actually has its advantages, namely in that there’s more transparency from the top down.
“Number one, the fundamentals of our business are sound,” Lee says. “The value of our independence is there’s a direct line of communication to anyone in the organization. Anyone in our agency can go directly to leadership; go to Stan [Richards]. We were always an open-door organization. In fact, we don’t have doors. That hasn’t changed. There’s no corporate communication coming from a holding company. It’s a two-way conversation. We make sure everyone is heard and all questions are answered.”
Creatives rally to combat COVID-19
When Crowdiate kicked off a pro-bono challenge prompting its network of 10,000 creatives to submit ideas to encourage people to stay strong, safe and pull together to combat the coronavirus pandemic, it received 92 concepts from more than 15 countries. Aaron Nemoy, founder and CEO of Crowdiate, says “our global creative community responded to the call with heart and an abundance of diverse perspectives.” A shortlist has been unveiled and can be found here, but some of the messages selected include “Wash hands now. Hold hands tomorrow” from Les Marsh in South Africa and “Do your apart” from Rich Roth in the U.S. One copywriter from Hong Kong, Paul Ruta, already had his message plastered across billboards in Canada. Ruta spun lyrics from Canada's national anthem to say: “O Canada we stand apart for thee" (billboard below).
“We loved this idea and couldn’t wait to get it out there,” Nemoy says on Ruta’s work.
Crowdiate, which was founded four years ago with the intent of running creative competitions like this one around COVID-19, worked with Media City to get some of the winning creative ideas on outdoor digital billboards. Crowdiate is currently looking for opportunities to push messages into other channels worldwide.
FCB hires creative lead on Mike's Hard
During this time, when agencies are being forced to initiate hiring freezes and layoffs, it’s nice to hear about shops that are hiring. If you're searching for work in advertising or marketing, as Ad Age reported, Amber Revoir, a senior recruiter at Portland-based Swift who was laid off a few weeks ago, put together an online referral list to link people with available jobs in the industry.
On that front, FCB New York just added an executive creative director: Samira Ansari, who will serve as the creative lead on the agency’s new Mike’s Hard global assignment. Ansari—who joins from Johannes Leonardo, where she oversaw Mass Mutual and Gap as a group creative director—will also spearhead new creative for Michelob Ultra and lead the AB InBev Beyond Beer account which spans brands Bon Viv, Social Club, Kombrewcha and Rita’s. Last week, FCB New York reported picking up the Mike’s Hard Lemonade creative business outside the U.S.
Agencies winning new business
Walrus was named lead creative agency for Vevan, a new plant-based vegan cheese brand from Schuman Cheese—one of the largest U.S. importers of Italian cheeses. Vevan is expected to hit shelves in June and comes in three flavors: Ched, which has a sharp flavor; Mozza, which has a mild flavor; and P’Jack, which has a peppery kick to it. Walrus will handle the brand’s first ad campaign which is set to launch this summer across paid, digital and social. Media duties will be handled in-house by Schuman, with consultation from Walrus.
VMLY&R was chosen as the agency of record for BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division. VMLY&R will handle brand communications, marketing, public relations, trade events and media planning and buying for BASF’s portfolio of crop protection, seed and seed treatment products for U.S. farmers. VMLY&R’s goal is to help BASF’s products stand out in the increasingly complex and pressured agricultural category.
San Diego shop Modifly was selected by college rewards and payment app Moocho to lead its social, creative and branding efforts. Moocho, founded in 2010 by founding members of StubHub, was built to help college students in the U.S. save money on daily necessities. Moocho’s partners include Subway, Starbucks, Chipotle, Whole Foods and CVS. Modifly will help Moocho, currently in its final beta stage, launch nationally—the goal being to do so by the end of the third quarter of 2020.
Food and beverage shop Quench, part of Pavone Marketing Group, was named retail agency of record for Knouse Foods’ Musselman’s and Lucky Leaf brands. Quench replaces Pittsburgh agency Brunner, which had held the account for 16 years. Quench will be responsible for the strategic and creative direction of each brand, and help launch new products aimed at increasing relevance with younger consumers. The shop’s first task will be developing an integrated campaign for each brand with an emphasis on digital, shopper and social.