Creativity and ‘Disruptivity’ During COVID-19 — a DPAA Video Everywhere Summit Recap

dpaa summit 2020

Hello everyone — I am your host for today’s recap of the DPAA Video Everywhere Summit. If you joined us last time, you’ll see that the event, was, in fact, virtual this year. And it was hosted on rAVe’s own LAVNCH platform! Exciting!

If you’re not familiar, DPAA is the global trade marketing association that connects out-of-home media with the advertising community while also “moving OOH to digital.” This isn’t something I know much about — but I was ready and excited to join this day and find out.

Within this wrapup, you’ll see I joined three different sessions. Here’s what they are:

Speed, Agility and the Power of DOOH

I decided to join this session because DOOH is something I am not super familiar with in my area of work, (I don’t come from an ad background so the most background I have with this is through my knowledge of covering digital signage news.)

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In this session, Michael Provenzano, CEO of Vistar Media, interviewed Chris Jeyes, senior media specialist at Jaguar Land Rover.

One of the first questions Michael asked? What are the best ways to bring about creativity when someone cares deeply about the brand they work for? (I would like to quickly note that Chris is 100% passionate about Jaguar Land Rover. He began his answer by noting that he interviewed for and applied to multiple positions until he was hired. Also, when he first got his job, he was driving a Land Rover classic he had restored. The passion for the brand is present and accounted for, folks!)

Chris’ real answer is that right now, creativity in DOOH presents a unique set of both challenges and opportunities. His company has to convey a sense of adventure with Land Rover but with a medium that isn’t as dynamic as others can be. HOWEVER, there are various out-of-home companies with options to make the creative stand out. His example? A hollowed-out vehicle that was placed over a subway entrance in Chicago. Strategically placed in a high-traffic area, this stopped people in their tracks in a way that was totally creative.

Another great point made during this conversation was what potential vendors and ad partners should be doing to get the attention of a client like Jaguar Land Rover. According to Chris, it’s about being more personal.

“We get tons of mailings from vendors and partners,” he said. “Cold emailing has hit hard. Some individuals take a more personalized approach. When you see headline after headline of ‘generic no-name client’ or ‘insert client name here,’ it becomes tired and you stop reading some of the messaging.”

He said companies should evaluate the effectiveness of this approach and instead — become really good at one particular thing and take a more personal and confident approach at building partnerships that way.

Creativity Sparks

This next session was so much fun. I mean, they were all fun. But I particularly enjoyed listening to the next two speakers. In this portion of the day, Dan Peres, editor-in-chief of Ad Age, interviewed Justin Thomas-Copeland, CEO of DDB. But first, DPAA President and CEO Barry Frey helped Dan celebrate his birthday.

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… By lighting a cupcake and eating it himself. (No judgment, though, I probably wouldn’t have shared either.)

Dan’s first question to Justin was about his recent transition to this role as CEO. Probably not easy to start a new job during a pandemic — when you can’t exactly get to know your co-workers like you would in the before-times.

Justin said, “Starting in a new role, you want to be with your team. It’s been challenging but everyone is under the same circumstances, so you have to over-communicate and be client-focused. Things we are really doubling down on is client contact — making sure we are openly communicating with clients about challenges.”

So basically, Justin is taking the rough with the smooth.

Dan: “In the interview with Ad Age last month, you talked a lot about listening. When you listen to clients what are you hearing right now?”

Justin: “Focus on consumers … Staying connected to consumers and their markets. What are we planning for? What does that mean for our business and brand? A new branch is being developed to understand how business is doing these past few months.”

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The next thing the two talked about was the want from clients to have “viral” marketing moments. Things like using the most recent pop culture phenomenon to obtain clout and sales. The most recent pop culture thing that people and brands are latching onto? The Ocean Spray/Fleetwood Mac TikTok. You know the one.

According to Justin, yes, some brands are asking about how they can ride the wave (not necessarily the Ocean Spray wave, but the wave in general). But, he also made the point that most clients want to be in the conversation when it makes sense, at least, they do if they’re smart.

“How you do that isn’t always going to be an iconic moment,” Justin said. “But to your point — brands are looking for small, discrete moments …You have to mix it up.”

A particular way that he suggests mixing it up is by marrying data and creativity. But is there a perfect way to do that yet?

How to Disrupt in a Disrupted World

Aaaaaand here’s our last session of the day, folks! In this portion, we got to watch Sasha Savic, CEO of MediaCom, interview Andrea Brimmer, CMO of Ally. This conversation is about using your brand to disrupt and get the attention of your intended audience — but it was also about being cognizant of where your audience is emotionally, mentally, etc.

In Sasha’s words, “This year was — technical word — shit.”

But there have been some positives for certain companies (although definitely not all).

For Andrea, there were actually some positives to this crazy year.

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She said she saw her team “congeal around a common purpose and really become more high-functioning than we ever were before.”

Andrea said the most important thing the company did was making their coronavirus response. It was all about letting customers know that they were going to help them through — and making sure the company behaved in the right way during the worst kind of pressure. She said it was a life lesson she and the rest of the company will always remember. Carry it forward.

Next up, Sasha asked Andrea about tackling social issues as a brand. This was of particular interest to me. I always like to see brands care about social issues, but I also think there is a fine line between proving to a community that you have always and will always have their backs — and being performative. Andrea touched on that a little bit.

“There’s always a risk that you are going to alienate a group,” she said. She continued by explaining that Ally is a purpose-driven brand. There is also a notion of being loud but not doing much for other brands. And Andrea said Ally didn’t want to do this — the company didn’t participate in the Facebook boycott but she also said it’s important for a brand to use social to take on important issues and conversations.

The final point I’ll leave you with that Sasha and Andrea talked about was whether it was important for brand advertising to “return to the streets” or if it should just be through the other formats we can get at home.

According to Andrea — brands will be back on the streets with the big ads shown all over Times Square and the like. It might just take a while. But nothing can truly replace that type of reach.

Day Two Takeaways

For someone who has always lived right outside the advertising world, I learned a lot about the things that have impacted these companies during COVID-19. But also, take a look at how cool and different all these people are! The brands and companies couldn’t be more different — which I think is cool. DPAA did a great job of showing creativity in advertising by showing us lots of different corners of different markets.

10/10 would recommend.