Lions Live 2020: ‘Companies act surprised by racism as if they’ve never seen it’

Day four of Lions Live saw David Droga, founder and creative chairman, Droga5; Jean Lin, global CEO – creative, Dentsu Aegis Network and global executive chairman, Isobar; Lorraine Twohill, CMO, Google; Mark Read, CEO, WPP and Steve Stoute, founder and CEO, Translation, debate on how the crises will affect the industry.

The first topic they touched upon was creativity and how work from home caused by Covid-19 has affected it.

Read said: “Creativity is harder because how you communicate with people has to be thought through much more carefully, but I also think it is never been more important. The effectiveness of the communication is based on the quality of the idea. The crisis makes it hard in the short term but when we come out of it there’s actually going to be creativity flourishing.”

Droga added: “I don’t think creativity is under threat. But I think what has happened in the last three months is that it has felt like three years in the natural evolution of business and client confidence. I feel like each client has a different level of confidence but business goes on and expectation goes on. There’s never been a greater need for creativity. What’s going to be seen is how the business model of the industry changes and not the creativity of the industry.”

Echoing the duos thoughts, Jean Lin, global CEO – creative, Dentsu Aegis Network and global executive chairman, Isobar, added, “Creativity is definitely in the driver’s seat. A crisis and situation like Covid-19 you need an outpour of creativity at pace and reimagining how you can solve problems. Covid hit China first so we are already here for more than five months in an abnormal situation. If you look at the work we’re doing, it may not be the work that wins in an awards show but certainly work that wins in the world for consumers.”

Google’s Twohill added, “I think this kind of creativity and advertising is the new reality. I’ve seen my team doing work in days and weeks which were previously being done in weeks and months. It’s a different world right now. It’s about how do we not lose this incredibly fast way of working when we come out of this. There’s so much we can learn through this.”

The next discussion was about the future of the industry in terms of the work. Read said he’s often asked about by employees if they will come back to office (ever).

“The answer is obviously – yes, you will, but we’re always going to be working in a much more flexible way. That’s clear. By the time things get back to normal, we would have forgotten what normal was like. When it comes to collaboration, the pandemic has forced it in new ways. Maybe not enough in between countries, but among people. We are on Zoom calls. It’s actually not bad. The hierarchy disappears. The more senior person used to speak at the beginning during a normal meeting, but on a Zoom call it works on a different way,” he said.

Stoute believed that he’s seeing employees work harder than before because they’re worrying about their jobs.

He explained, “People are working harder than ever before and arriving to solve a problem. The other thing you have is – I think you have a more motivated workforce. This is an environment where people don’t want to lose their jobs or lose any sense of opportunity, so even while people are working from home they are working harder than ever because they want to show their value and commitment.

Droga did have a tiny concern.

“I love our offices and the best part of them is the people. I don’t think there’s been a compromise in creativity. The new reality is good for creativity and collaboration. Yes, creativity is a collision culture so I do worry a tiny bit. I don’t think people’s ambitions and motivations has changed though. I’m also worried about more about the soft stuff – how young people can see and observe how people work and make decisions. They won’t get to listen to conversations they probably shouldn’t be listening. That’s how people grow. You’ll never hear that in a zoom call. I love the fact that superficial creativity will be less relevant. There’s more emphasis on genuine creativity,” he said.

The group then spoke about purpose led work.

Calling it something she was passionate about Lin said, “I want to move away from purpose led work to the role of agencies. I believe more and more agencies will be responsible for clients gaining in the long term. Consumers demand from brands they have to make it a better place. Employees demand from employers too. It’s the linkage of what you do and why you do. People can clearly verify whether what you do and what you say are the same thing. So, increasingly for businesses to strive it becomes such an important element in order to move to the next layer.”

Twohill added, “We have always done this at Google. We have put out work like this in the world for many, many years. So, that feels normal to us. It’s about who you are as a company now more than ever before and the sense of what your company delivers too. If you’re a mission led company like we are it needs to shine through your work and you need to be transparent about who you are and your point of view. Now more than ever it’s important to be who you are and show your POV.”

Stoute said that he was upset by how surprised companies have been with the topic of racism.

“There are companies who act surprised on the topic of race coming up as if they’ve never seen it. That’s the part which upsets me the most. I can’t allow being in the industry for 20 years and seeing what I have seen for the industry to have this shoot first ask questions later mentality. Everyone acts surprised as if they’ve never heard this before. Every brand and agency needs an African American strategy based on society’s real expectations. It has to be measurable and published. That’s what is expected coming out of this. Asking the holding companies is one thing and they’ve historically failed. Brands which incentivise them needs to hold agencies accountable for hiring. My job coming out of this is to put together a list of things and have people like Mark, David, Lorraine and others endorse it. It’s my life mission to help the next generation to not have go through what I had to set up a company.”

Source: Campaign India


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