Happy week six of shelter in place, people! I’m not sure about you, but I’m finding an interesting dichotomy at play right now between my newly discovered appreciation of the simple life vs. a strong pull to focus this time on pushing boundaries to create meaningful work that gives me purpose and connects me to the larger world. Maybe that’s the tension and balance we all need to work through in establishing our own “new normal.” Trust me, I’m well into that quest and I truly appreciate getting to see the creative produced during the pandemic to make it work.  

With that in mind, I’m sharing a few inspiring things that have been put out into the world that show that innovative thinking is alive and well during this unique time. 

Travis Scott Astronomical Concert – Fortnite

Travis Scott’s virtual “Astronomical” mini-concert tour inside of Fortnite drew in 12.3 million virtual attendees and amassed an additional 3 million steaming views across Twitch and YouTube. Scott hosted five concerts over the course of three days, during which time he premiered a new song. Watching him come alive as a 40-foot iconic god and taking us all on a surreal journey through the virtual landscapes was a welcome reward for being stuck at home, and also the promise of many exciting things to come in the virtual world.

Why it matters: It may sound gimmicky to hold a music performance inside a video game, but Travis’s virtual concert was more of an era-defining cultural experience. Particularly impressive was the number of views the concert received—over 10X what the largest physical stadiums could accommodate. Advertisers looking to engage consumers virtually should look to the concert as an example for it tied in a limited-time set of challenges for players to complete, making the concert as close to experiential, if not more, than an in-person concert. 

The details: What’s truly amazing is that the Epic Games team pulled off the virtual concert while working from home! The concert was a perfect combination of all the things we long for at a Coachella or Burning Man festival, a well-balanced mix of art, music and interactivity. To mimic the look and feel of a physical event, Epic Games launched a microsite that listed Travis’ virtual tour dates, noting that, “doors open 30 minutes before the show.”

Rethink –  Kraft Peanut Butter

Canada Kraft Peanut Butter’s “Stick Together” campaign is giving small businesses unused ad space to let people know they’re still open and to please come by and help support their community.

Why it matters:  This example speaks to how we as creatives can take a more holistic view of our role in the pandemic and strive to bring our clients an idea that lifts everyone. Brand building matters and it’s usually the hardest thing to get clients to invest in. Unless we’re talking about companies like Nike, most ad spend is geared towards proving a clear return on investment (ROI) and for increasing sales of a product. I’m not disparaging that, but when I see moves like Kraft’s, it reminds me of why I love what we do. We can make a difference. It just takes a bold move, a fearless client and a big idea, executed flawlessly. And the rewards? Kraft Peanut Butter gets a huge lift in brand goodwill, helps their local communities from the ground up and is able to say, through action, that they care.  I’d say that moves the needle in a big way. Anyone craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

The details: Canadian agency Rethink was behind the campaign, the genesis of which apparently came from the fact that Kraft Peanut Butter was flying off the shelves due to its extremely long shelf life. So what do you do when your brand is inadvertently benefiting from a catastrophe? You look around and see how you can help others. The campaign first rolled out on Kraft Peanut Butter’s Instagram page and expanded out through their surplus of digital pre-roll.  As it started to catch on, they rolled it out wider to broadcast spots across more markets: Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. 

Lowe’s – What Home Can Become

Lowe’s created a 30-second television spot that captures the return to simplicity that most of us are experiencing during the lockdown, with living rooms becoming classrooms, dining rooms becoming offices, and the like. The sentiment is spot on and the execution pulls forward another one of my favorite themes right now; creativity is what connects us all and will help us pull through this difficult time. As the spot builds to its close, Lowe’s sticks the landing with the final tag, “What Home Can Become.” The spot mirrors Lowe’s new “Home Becomes” YouTube makeover series, in which each episode features a professional transforming different areas of the house to show how people can make their spaces more suitable for life during lockdown.

Why it matters: Many people are searching for the silver lining amid COVID-19. The Lowe’s spot is a powerful example of how a simple cause-related message delivered in a positive spirit can show consumers that you understand what they’re going through. At the core, this spot is about ingenuity and transformation and a reminder that a little creativity can help define and elevate what our new normal can be. You don’t even need to use a plinky piano underscore.

The details: Like the Ikea spot I shared last week, this film is clearly of its time. My guess is that each of the vignettes was filmed by a member of their family and that it was all done within the shelter-in-place guidelines. A strong messaging run underscores the transformations their imaginations have unlocked and glues these disparate moments together into something much stronger than the sum of its parts. 

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