When I think of our industry during this period, I’m impressed by its resilience. Right from the very beginning of the pandemic, when life could hardly have been more uncertain, people who work in advertising and communications got busy doing what they do best: creating.
They created new ways of working together. New ways of collaborating with clients. New ways of shooting films. And although there were some casualties along the way – there’s no denying that jobs were lost and lives were changed – I saw many agencies trying to do the right thing by their people. Some of the results were extraordinary. The evidence? We saw it right here at the Epica Awards. To be honest, at first we wondered whether the awards would happen at all. Would we get a single entry? Ten? A hundred? Was an awards show even relevant? Despite everything, we decided to go ahead. As the initial weeks of the pandemic stretched into months, we saw the desire among agencies to celebrate good work slowly returning. And the work was very good indeed: for example, at the prompting of our jury we launched a COVID-19 Com- munications category to celebrate the variety of impressive campaigns in that area, from supporting essential workers to reminding us about the importance of barrier gestures. Equally impressive was the work being done for familiar products and brands in extraordinary circumstances. Directors were making films via Zoom or Teams. Actors were filming themselves on their mobile phones, at home, and sending in the results to be edited. Animation and special effects flourished. Production teams decamped to countries where the virus was less present. A surprising amount of that work made it to us in the form of entries. We were genuinely delighted by the number of agencies who supported us – and we’re extremely grateful to them. It seems that even in the midst of a pandemic, agencies are keen to honour creativity. So are the journalists on our jury. They were as committed as ever last year, judging the work online and during live video debates. Their enthusiasm for advertising, digital, design and related metiers is always overwhelming. I compare them to wine connoisseurs: they don’t tend the vines, but they know how to savour the results. And 2020 was an unexpectedly good vintage. Creativity thrives on a challenge. As I’ve written before, we journalists know that agencies and brands are keen to get our attention. We can tell from the press releases we receive and the interviews we’re offered. It’s a win-win situation: your news is our news. The Epica Awards offer a direct route to the eyes and ears of the press. Every entry is scrutinised. That’s instant ROI. The Gold and Grand Prix winners literally make headlines. But shortlisted entries that appeal to individual jury members also find themselves in the news.
Epica is the intersection of creativity and journalism. At journalism school, we’re often told that every good story is pyramid-shaped. At Epica, our pyramid is shaped by great ideas.
Mark Tungate is a journalist, best-sellling author, and the Editorial Director of the Epica Awards.