What is the thing that has most inspired you?
The Innovation Lions are always really thought provoking and this year is no exception. I was really impressed by two of the cases that were showcased, both from Latin America and both from Wunderman Thompson. First a project they had worked on with a renewable energy start-up called Edina Energy. It is a light powered by sea water. With ½ a litre it can give light for 45 days. So if you have a coastline but no electricity as many millions of people haven’t it is an amazing solution. The same agency, in Argentina had worked with Unilever to create a deodorant bottle that is usable by people with physical disabilities that cannot handle standard products. The idea came from the brand purpose, ‘Inspire Everyone To Move More’ and qualitative groups with wheelchair users who shared their experiences and needs from personal hygiene products. That potent combination of having a purpose and talking to people again!
The Chair of Judges, Claudia Christovao of Google APAC added further inspiration to my afternoon by stating that the team had sought entries that had changed as many lives as possible rather than futurizing. After the last year and half, they wanted to reward people that were dealing with basic problems. They wanted to celebrate people helping to fix unbearable problems.
What surprised you the most?
I was surprised by the collaboration of German high fashion platform High Snobiety and Californian toy legend Mattel. The Mattel COO talked about the origins of the 76 year old company formed in a garage. The future of play coming from such humble surroundings in his words. High Snobiety and milieu of cutting edge fashion and popular culture feels very different but had worked in partnership with Mattel to bring together (or curate) new relationships between iconic toys and creators. So, Barbie and Hot Wheels have become canvases now for artist Daniel Arsham and stylist Aleali May to reimagine for a new generation.
I think what was initially surprising actually becomes really clear when COO Richard Dickson stated his goal to make Mattel Creations a collaboration platform for creatives to use their brands as a canvas for conversation, to create and sell stories. So, toys as art and art as toys.
What has the biggest implications for the way we will work over the next 12 months?
I found Tik Tok Originals’ piece on the way their creators have reinvented organic reach really fascinating. Some of the stories of single posts sparking mass trends were an incredible insight into popular culture 2021. One now full-time creator Bella Hall from the UK had been working in a Tesco supermarket when she noticed a new product Little Moons Mochi Deserts selling really fast. She took a pack home and created content around her eating experience. Fast forward and her original hashtag boasts 178m views. This organic post transformed the fortunes of the brand which is now ironically moving into print and out of home media. This democratisation of reach and the ability to deliver mass entertainment has massive ramifications not just for media but the creative brief, commerce and much beyond.
Last one from me
Historian Yuval Noah Harrari was in conversation about brands, humanity an storytelling with Neil Lindsay of Amazon. He finished the session with these words (might be a paraphrase actually). ‘Brands are just stories created to help people. They can’t suffer or be happy. Make humans happy not only brands.’