The Epica Book


This year’s Epica Book is a special edition. Epica turned 30 in 2016, and the book includes a look back at 30 years of creativity, narrated by some of the leading journalists on our jury.

But the book also includes all the winners and selected high-scoring entries from the last Epica Awards. Not to mention exclusive interviews with the creatives and clients behind our Grand Prix winners. As usual, we tried to make it not just a portrait of an awards show, but a source of inspiration for anyone who loves creative communications.

Talking of portraits, the book’s cover is one of our best ever, from McCann Worldgroup Italy and Carioca Studio in Romania. A photograph that looks like a painting advertising an exhibition about stamps. An image that crosses time, space and media. How “now” can you get?

The industry has changed a lot since the founding of Epica, but here’s a quote from the 1987 edition of the book: “A fresh, original solution will always stand out, regardless of its origin.”

Some things never change. Enjoy this year’s book. See you in Berlin for the 31st Epica Awards.



For a long, long time, advertising was seen as an uninvited guest in the homes of consumers. As Bill Bernbach said decades ago, “It’s an interruption in people’s lives, so you better make this experience worth remembering.” It was a big challenge. Today, brands are as welcome in people’s lives as anything else. People love brands. They identify with brands. They promote brands, for free, on places like Instagram and Snapchat. And they are loyal to brands. (Fickle, but loyal.) Especially young people. In some ways, you could argue that there has never been a better time to be a brand.

That’s the good news.

Now, some of you may be wondering when this seismic shift from brands being an uninvited guest to an invited guest happened. Well, hop in the time machine and set a course for 1999 – the year Napster changed everything. You see, back before Napster, young people were really, really protective of the music industry and the bands they worshipped. If a band or a singer was sponsored by a brand, young people would stick their noses up and say they had “sold out”. Even worse, if a band shilled one of their songs for a commercial, the cool kids out by the smoking cage would burn their CDs.

Of course there were the exceptions. The Beatles’ “Revolution” and that iconic Nike commercial. Pepsi sponsoring Michael Jackson. And that magical VW commercial where we all fell hypnotized to Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon.”  But for the most part, kids didn’t want their music fucked with by brands using them to sell toilet paper. That was up until that day in 1999 when Shawn Fanning showed kids how they could get music for free. Boom. All of a sudden the music industry was blown up. Gone forever was the old model of record companies making big bucks off album sales. And those bands that the kids loved for not “selling out” were suddenly struggling to pay the rent. Innovation had killed the video star.

Pretty soon, you saw more and more tours being sponsored by big corporations and more and more bands, good freaking bands, selling their souls to pump up soda spots. They had no choice. And the kids accepted it. They knew they were screwing the bands over by not buying their music. And so began the melding of brands and music, which led to the undeniable relationship we have today – brands and consumers (young consumers) sharing beds like love-ins from the Sixties.

But here’s the bad news. Or, maybe, just the challenge agencies and brands face. While young people accept brands more and more in their lives today, they also expect a whole hell of a lot from brands. You better be transparent. You better be innovating. You better be trying to make it as good as possible while costing as little as possible. Oh, and yeah, you better be doing right by society. Right by the environment. Right, in general. That’s the price you must pay for being the invited guest.

The smart brands are already doing the things needed to capture the hearts and minds. Dove and their real beauty platform. Lockheed Martin, through their school bus that transports children to Mars and shows the world what education might look like in the future. REI and their massive statement against Black Friday. These are just a few examples of how brands are doing more than just putting out a product for consumers to buy. They are beginning to play a meaningful role in people’s lives. And that, frankly, is what we all should be spending our time helping our brands to crack.

Rob Reilly is Global Creative Chairman of McCann Worldgroup




    01 August 2016


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