When SXSW was cancelled in March, no one had any idea what was going to happen. Soon after, the pandemic became a reality and everything changed completely. Freelancers found themselves without work, campaigns and internships cancelled, agencies reducing their teams and those lucky enough to have work, had to adapt to a new routine full of pressure, uncertainty and never ending Zoom meetings.
The good news is that, in the middle of all of this, some people found opportunity during isolation to make something that would help the creative community deal with everything that was happening. From an award to help young people from the periphery of Sao Paulo and a public portfolio on mental health, to a two-week long advertising pitch competition for students stuck indoors, get to know the ten projects that fought hard to make 2020 a little less difficult for the industry and for a lot of creatives around the world.
1. Our Silent Partner
In the middle of isolation, speaking up about mental health in the creative community became an important, yet delicate theme. However, a lot of people and agencies struggle with speaking up about mental health. Launched in May, Our Silent Partner is an anonymous, crowd-sourced creative portfolio that expresses what it’s like to live and work as a creative with mental health challenges. It was created by Victoria Rosselli, an art director at FCB Chicago, and Laurel Stark Akman, freelance copywriter/creative director, who have forged their careers while battling anxiety, as well as attention-deficit and eating disorders.
Many agencies and leaders struggle with recruiting talent of color. A lot cite the “we can’t find them” and “there aren’t enough of them” excuses. So, over the summer, New York-based Sr. Copywriter Chelsea Curry launched c0ffe3 — a fake company designed to help people of color land real jobs by increasing their visibility with recruiters and hiring managers. Anyone looking for talent of color can add “c0ffe3” to their search (i.e., “c0ffe3 Sr. Copywriter”) to see self-identified talent of color. If you’re a person of color, simply add c0ffe3 as a past employer on your Linkedin profile to be seen. Currently, c0ffe3’s Linkedin page has more than 530 employees.
3. My Link Is Your Link
This June, three Brazilian creatives, Bernardo Tavares, Rodrigo Rocha and André Mezzomo, came up with an answer to the job loss and networking complications imposed by the pandemic. The team created My Link Is Your Link, a tool that gives visibility to job seekers through the use of a simple HTML code. The code redirects portfolios of those who already have a job to those who don’t. To participate in the project and redirect your portfolio to someone looking for work, all you have to do is go to its site and follow the instructions that allow you to paste the redirect into the session ‘code injection’ on your website platform. Weeks after launch My Link is Your Link already donated more than 50k page views.
4. One School
Everyone knows that advertising has a diversity problem. What most agency leaders are not aware of is that part of this is due to systemic bias in the hiring process, while another part is simply that the cost of 2 years at a top portfolio school can pile up to $40,000. These barriers along with a lack of representation often prevent Black people from pursuing a career in the industry. In July, Spotify creative director Oriel Davis-Lyons , in partnership with The One Club, launched One School: a free, 16-week online portfolio school for Black creatives. With a maximum of 15 students per class, 30 young people have been selected to be a part of it so far. New classes will be returning in Spring 2021. Follow the initiative on Instagram to be the first to know when applications open.
5. Indoor Recess
After many internship opportunities were canceled in May, six students decided to launch Indoor Recess, a two-week long advertising pitch competition for students stuck indoors instead of interning. In order to emulate a similar experience to an internship, Indoor Recess paired industry mentors from companies such as Edelman, Nike, Amazon, W+K, BBH and more, with each of the 10 teams competing in the session. The mentors could be tapped for advice and guidance throughout the competition. Industry professionals at the executive level also judged the content of the final project and provided feedback to all participants. In a few months, Indoor Recess helped more than 260 students and recent grads (plus hundreds more who have tuned into their Assembly speaker sessions) gain real-world experience.
Every year, Brazil is one of the most awarded countries at Cannes Lions, but it continues to be a country full of social and economic inequality. In January, Letícia Rodrigues, Irina Didier and Flávio Salcedo created PerifaLions with the objective of bringing young people from the peripheries (working-class neighborhoods far away from the city’s business centers) to Cannes Lions — all fully paid for. Even though the festival didn’t happen, the project went ahead. So far, PerifaLions has connected 200 young people – from the peripheries of São Paulo and all over Brazil – with professionals and agencies, promoted 9 mentor sessions, 2 training sessions, and 18 Instagram Lives, all of which resulted in school scholarships and job hires. Check out the case study to learn more.
7. Black Creative: Race and The Advertising Industry
Speaking out in, and to, the industry about inclusion, unconscious bias and tokenism hasn’t been done on camera. In October, Great Guns director Meena Ayittey launched a documentary, Black Creative: Race and The Advertising Industry, to discuss what it’s like to be Black and working in the UK advertising industry. The one-hour film features a collective of black voices revealing their experiences of working in a predominantly white space. The film asks important questions regarding unconscious bias and tokens. Although the film was made in the UK, it can be read as a conversation that all creative industries need to be having with themselves right now, both globally and within the UK. The full film is available via this link.
8. STUDIO 3
Founded two years ago, Third Eye Collective is a professional community and career hub for South Asian creatives, which has roughly 150 members. This fall, its founders Anumeha Sinha and Reema Kakaday launched STUDIO 3, a virtual ‘talent incubator’ that has paired emerging South Asian creatives with industry leaders. Those who were accepted into the first season worked with a dedicated advisor on a Design project over the course of nine weeks — from September to November. The program culminated with a ‘portfolio showcase’, where talent acquisition teams from partnering agencies and studios recognized the work completed by each fellow. The program will run seasonally, working within a new creative discipline each cycle.
9. Making Britain Great Since…
Founded by Nana Bempah and Kevin Morosky, Pocc is an independent global creative organization making cultural impact. Powered by the 600+ strong Pocc Community of diverse creative professionals, it exists to accelerate equality and equity for culturally and ethnically diverse people in the creative industry. November 2020 saw Pocc launch “Making Britain Great Since”—a campaign that aims to find and tell the stories that celebrate black and brown creatives, leaders and changemakers through the lens of generations that preceded them. So far, 17 stories have been told through social, out of home and the website. There’s even an Instagram AR filter, developed in collaboration with Facebook, allowing users to tell their own stories of greatness.
10. The Side Show
In September, freelance creatives Josh Weiss and Sunita Deshpande launched The Side Show, an awards program exclusively focused on honoring side projects done outside of work with 10 categories that people could submit to. More than 500 submissions later, the pair have chosen the inaugural winners, with the help of a judging panel that included Chief Creative Officers from BBH, TBWA and VMLY&R. The Best in Show winner received $500, while all category honorees took home $350. Based on feedback they looked over and a vote by their Board of Directors—Camilla Ciappina, Bre Fernandez, Laura Canzano and Maddy Crammer—The Side Show’s second edition is in the works.