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Judges of this year’s Gerety Awards reflect on the great work and emerging trends, uncovering the very best in advertising through the female lens.
The Gerety Awards are unique because they redefine the standard to which advertising is held. Named after Frances Gerety, the copywriter who coined the slogan “A diamond is forever”, the awards mark the first time that juries have been brought together to select the very best in advertising – all advertising, not just advertising made for women – through the female lens.
In the wake of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted women by every measure; it has never been more vital to champion this female lens. Cultivating and championing this female perspective is not only essential for the creative and cultural relevance of the industry, but can also help shape commercial success.
In a panel session hosted by Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief, three champions of creativity and Gerety Brand Jury members from the UK lifted the lid on some of the most exciting trends seen in work submitted. Kiessé Lamour, Global Head of Media at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, Karen Blackett OBE, Country Manager, WPP U.K & GroupM, U.K CEO, UK and Kate Stanners, Chairwoman & Global Chief Creative Office at Saatchi & Saatchi London delved into the work that impacted them and how the industry can create the conditions in which creative people can flourish and have the opportunity genre-redefining work.
To open the discussion, each panellist remarked on their own personal highlight of working on the awards and agreed that ultimately, it was in the opportunity to be inspired. “It’s a shame it takes judging to force you to do it, but there’s a real privilege of sitting down and immersing yourself in work. It’s enriching as a creative and pushes you to do better in your own work.” Stanners explained.
In the wake of the pandemic where there's been much research showing how frantic people’s daily lives have become; the feeling of being overwhelmed can feel all-consuming. At times, it feels as though that inspiration is hard to come by but looking at all the work that’s out there reminds us of the greatness within the industry that can pass us by.
“We are so busy post-2020. Delivering, keeping business going, talking to clients. For me, being in the UK and getting the opportunity to see amazing work from all around the world is what gave me that feeling, ‘God, wish I’d been a part of that.’ That’s what really gets you inspired and we saw so much of that this year.” added Blackett.
It’s not about the biggest idea, the biggest budget or the best execution. It’s about work that inspires and stirs something up within us; whether that be joy, activism, compassion or anger.Kiessé Lamour, Global Head of Media at Wunderman Thompson Commerce
Creativity is all about inspiration but as Lamour reminded the panel “It’s not about the biggest idea, the biggest budget or the best execution. It’s about work that inspires and stirs something up within us; whether that be joy, activism, compassion or anger.” She continued: “So much of the work that we saw this year did just that and some lead to media or business outcomes others to societal change.” The way in which creativity has the capacity to be a major catalyst for change was evidenced at this year's awards.
The pandemic has seen a marked shift in the ways of working and whilst working remotely can at times make the industry feel quite transactional, emotion remains at the heart of the industry’s most effective work. At times, cynicism can sneak in and it’s easy to feel disheartened about the impact work can actually have but “sometimes even the smallest voices can have a big impact” says Stanners.
Some of the best work at the Gerety Awards was at times “scrappy” explained Stanners, but it was this approach which often resulted in the most change. This year’s award winners proved that “if you can take something fairly small and amplify it, it can have a much greater impact” explained Stanners, “we often talk about creativity, but for me, it’s the ability to drive value through original thinking.”
We have changed as a society forever. The focus on community and locality are more visible now than ever before and there is a real onus on brands to be a part of this.Karen Blackett OBE, Country Manager, WPP U.K & GroupM, U.K CEO, UK
The past eighteen months has shrunk our worlds and placed a heightened value on the sense of community; a sentiment reflected in much of the work at the Gerety Awards.
“We have changed as a society forever” Blackett says.”The focus on community and locality are more visible now than ever before and there is a real onus on brands to be a part of this.” The Znamkamarada’s hackathon was referenced by Blackett as an exceptional example of what can be achieved when community is placed at the heart of a campaign. In this instance, a community of hackers were able to come together to make changes to a whole country showing the power of unity and togetherness.
In the wake of the global pandemic the panel agreed there is an expectation for brands to do and say more. There’s not only merit in terms of brand favour, for brands Blackett says “profit and purpose are not mutually exclusive - one can help and drive the other.” In the results seen from the winning campaigns, it's clear that work with purpose is able to reap the best rewards as Kemp commented on the fact that work with purpose, community, diversity and inclusion at the heart actually serves to have a competitive advantage in the market.
This year there was a genuine attempt to reflect the society and the customers brands serve. “Beyond the competitive advantage, it is the right thing to do” says Lamour, “Diversity is multifaceted, it's not just about people it's about the way we think, the ideas we explore and the platforms and approaches we take.”
Honesty in advertising has reached an all-time high. Audiences no longer wish to see the glossy view of reality that has been championed for far too long; it's not relevant to today’s society. These days, people are holding brands accountable and want to see reality reflected in work. In the best of the Gerety Awards it felt obvious decision makers were as diverse as final outcomes seemed to bring together thinking from a broad range of voices.
We often talk about creativity, but for me, it’s the ability to drive value through original thinking.Kate Stanners, Chairwoman & Global Chief Creative Office at Saatchi & Saatchi
Diversity was also evident in the vast array of mediums of platforms in this year’s body of work. Gaming in particular emerged victorious as a great way to reach engaged audiences in a dynamic way meeting audiences where they already are. The VMLY&R’s Wendy’s campaign which dropped Wendy into multiple games and saw her streaming on Twitch showed that agencies are daring to think beyond the traditional 30 second ad slot to deliver campaigns in creative ways. “If the platform is part of everyday life and you understand how it's being used by the consumer. It feels more integrated and more natural.” says Blackett
This leads Kemp on to raise the topic of bravery within marketing. We often talk of bravery within marketing without truly defining what that means. For Lamour it's “about how you behave as a brand and what you show up for,” she continued, “bravery isn’t about a demonstration of power, it can simply mean daring to take a different path - challenging the status quo.”
This is something the panel saw in MullenLowe’s Beer Cap Project for Aguila Beer, which for Blackett, demonstrated a huge amount of bravery as it called upon other brands to do the right thing and get involved. Trying something different, doing something for an entire sector whilst calling upon industry peers to do the right thing too is what the panel defined as brave.
“Often bravery means work that when asked by a client what the outcome will be, agencies can’t be sure,” says Stanners. The current climate has made clients risk averse and in a period where we are all wading through the dark, bravery can be even harder but all panelists agree that the real risk is in not trying something new. As an industry we are obsessed with performance and predicting but “‘I don’t know’ are three brave words” says Kemp.
The only permanent thing in life is change. Beyond that is to recognise that whatever challenge you’re going through you’re not alone you're not the first person to go through it and you won't be the last.Kiessé Lamour, Global Head of Media at Wunderman Thompson Commerce
The Gerety awards are a way of raising the creative bar in an industry so often obsessed with benchmarking. “Creativity is a muscle you have to exercise every day”, says Kemp as she comments on the way that the industry must constantly strive to do better and push the boundaries of working.
As we slowly work our way out of the pandemic, burnout is a huge challenge. The past eighteen months have been extremely challenging for mental health and ways of working can seem transactional. Identifying a benchmark through awards and building upon it can help talent to find inspiration at such times.
For many, it can feel like the pandemic has caused them to stagnate making improvement hard. Blackett once said “feedback is a gift” but whilst we face difficult times sometimes it can feel like a sucker punch, says Kemp. Working from home has seen many people fall into a monotonous routine and receiving negative feedback whilst in a delicate mindset can impact confidence or mental health. Yet, the panel agreed that feedback should be seen as a way of getting better. Whilst it can sometimes be given poorly, it's important young creatives remember that receiving feedback is a shared experience everyone goes through that ultimately takes them on a journey to get better.
Kemp rounded off the panel session by asking for some practical advice that industry members can apply to their own work. Lamour shared some advice from her mother, “the only permanent thing in life is change. Beyond that is to recognise that whatever challenge you’re going through you’re not alone you're not the first person to go through it and you won't be the last.” Looking to the past gives her optimism for the future. “Always be cognisant of the fact that if you conform to the norm you will increase your irrelevance, be comfortable with being different, thinking differently, moving differently.” Karen Blackett shared some advice from her friend June Sarpong, who reminds us to “check our circles. If your circle is full of people like you, your work will reflect that. Broaden your circle and make sure you surround yourself with diverse thinking and your work will begin to reflect that too.”
The real champion of this year’s Gerety Awards was honesty and diversity; in the work, in people, in platforms and in thinking. Taking inspiration from the best of the best will continually raise the bar in creativity and it’s through collaboration that great, genre-defining work is achieved.
To view the full event please click here
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