If this week’s creative output is anything to go by then we’re now into the 'longing and nostalgia' stage of the quarantine. Activism and outpourings of affection have been replaced by campaigns focusing on visions of a time when we’re not in lockdown – either looking into the future or harking back to a time in the past where things were better.
It’s also been a week in which brands are slowly starting to have the confidence to come back with campaigns that aren’t entirely purpose-related or that don’t slap you in the face with rainbows.
Here are my picks of this week’s creative hits and misses.
‘Fortnite x Travis Scott Astronomical Concert’ by Travis Scott and Epic Games
Creativity in a time of crisis calls for innovation and we are seeing people across the creative sectors adapting their craft to suit the confines of the new reality we’re all living in.
Musicians who can’t tour and play live gigs in person now perform to their fans via Zoom or Instagram Live. If you’re an artist like Travis Scott, though, you don’t do things by halves, and his ‘Astronomical’ digital concert within the online game Fortnite definitely lived up to its billing in terms of scale.
Live concerts in Fortnite aren’t a new thing, but a spectacle of this nature certainly was – a 10-minute, highly psychedelic, animated and interactive show within the game where a giant version of the rapper stalked around the game like a much more fashionable BFG.
What made this execution so spectacular was not only the incredible animation but also the fact that the audience wasn’t a passive observer. Every in-game explosion and song change transported the player to an incredible new location, from underwater to outer space. The gig ended with players hovering in space as a version of Scott dressed as an astronaut premiered his new song, The Scotts, while sitting on a planet.
At its peak, the concert attracted a global audience of 12.3 million players, the most for a single event on the platform to date. That’s hugely impressive, given how hard it is to reach the 16-24 age group.
It’s one thing to entertain a captive young audience, it’s another thing entirely to immerse them in your brand for more than 10 minutes at a time when attention spans are shorter than a TikTok video.
‘One Day’ by BBC News
The Beeb has taken a fair amount of bashing in recent months from both Labour and the Tories, but over the past few weeks it’s really been able to re-establish its reputation as a trusted source of information and a reliably reassuring presence – like the beloved aunt that it used to be.
Campaigns like this explain why – a sea of friendly faces like the tall cheeky Breakfast presenter and the Welsh one with the spiky hair telling you that one day this pandemic will all be over. It’s the video equivalent of a nice cup of tea and digestive; it lays it on thick, but it still feels poignant.
It’s not ground-breaking, but definitely needed at a time when patience is thin and hope is starting to waver.
“One day I will tell you there are no new cases… until then we’ll be here to help you understand what’s happening every step of the way”— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) April 27, 2020
Follow the latest news on the pandemic, with BBC News: https://t.co/36FinZ1dElpic.twitter.com/qpnRVQSpso
'Lynx Africa Hot Since ’95' by Lynx/Unilever
In recent times, brands targeting young men have made great strides toward promoting a more positive, nuanced and inclusive version of modern masculinity. One of those brands is Lynx, which has done some great work repositioning itself as a provider of self-confidence rather than 'liquid sex in a can'.
This week every 13-year-old’s favourite fragrance, Lynx Africa, marked its 25th anniversary, and to celebrate the brand created a nostalgia-drenched campaign to go with it.
Their campaign transports viewers back to the mythical year 1995 when times were simpler and the music of Apache Indian was blasting out of every Walkman.
The narrative for the anniversary 'time tunnel' video is also straight out of the 90s – dude sees attractive women, one sprays some Lynx on him then herself, and leads him away at the end.
The underlying message of the ad is essentially: ‘No spray, no lay’, which just doesn’t really work in 2020.
The content features amazing talent like Anthony Joshua and AJ Tracey, whose role is reduced to the briefest of cameos, which feels like a waste.
Lynx Africa has such an iconic place in British pop culture that it feels like this was a missed opportunity for a really fun campaign. Just imagine Anthony Joshua teaming up with Alan Partridge or AJ Tracey doing a grime reworking of Toto’s ‘Africa’ – so many creative possibilities missed!
‘Whassap Bud’ by Budweiser
Another 90s staple making a comeback this week was Budweiser’s 'Whassup' catchphrase, which the beer brand brought out of retirement to encourage ‘buds to support buds’ (translation: mates supporting mates) by checking in on each other during the quarantine.
Not only did it update the original 1999 version of the video with added quarantine references (see below), it also created a new version starring basketball superstars Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker and Chris Bosh.
While I like the sentiment of the campaign, encouraging people to reach out to their friends during the lockdown to combat loneliness, the justification for using this classic catchphrase is super-thin. They’ve literally added the word ‘quarantine’ to the script from the original creative.
Watching the ad made me smile as much as it did the first time I saw it but this is the third time the catchphrase has been used in a major campaign since 2018, which at best is creatively economical and at worst slightly lazy.
Yes, it’s also great that the brand is also using its marketing budget to promote a Salvation Army helpline for those in need, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that alcohol brands and mental-health campaigns are strange bedfellows.
Click here to subscribe to the FREE Creative Inspiration bulletin to receive dedicated features, comment and the latest creative campaigns straight to your inbox. Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.
To submit an idea for the bulletin, email John.Harrington@Haymarket.com