The Festival of Festivals Highlights

Under the title “Prototyping brands for a new era”, this year’s ADCE European Creativity Festival, curated by Steve Vranakis, invited a wide range of creative professionals from all over Europe to come together in virtual format and share projects and experiences that highlight the power of purpose driven work, and its capacity to build conscious, sustainable businesses and create a better future.

We hope you enjoyed the event, and if you missed it, you’ll find the highlights of each intervention below. Keep reading!

Steve Vranakis, ADCE Festival Curator
Jamshid Alamuti, ADCE Festival Advisor & Presenter

Highlighting Steve Vranakis pioneering position as Greece’s first ever Chief Creative Officer, Jamshid Alamuti, Festival Advisor and Presenter asked him to contextualise the Festival’s theme: “Prototyping brands for a new era”

“I’ve had a broad mix of experiences in the creative sector and I know we can have much more impact than just a cosmetic, a superficial paint.

I have put together a programme with professionals involved in conscious businesses and brands serving a higher purpose. People and organisations that have shown unprecedented thought leadership in different areas, that are trying new things and are not afraid of experimenting.

We are on a very difficult moment in history, and now more than ever we need creativity to solve challenges and have a positive impact in the world”

Connections from Europe
Charlotte Bufler & Hans-Peter Albrecht, The Wunderwaffe

Throughout the day, Charlotte and HP took us on a tour across Europe, connecting with different ADCE Member Clubs including Germany, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Cyprus, Latvia and, Lithuania, who each introduced a creative representative of their club.

These interventions, plus the ones on Stage 2, are our Connections from Europe and made this year’s festival more European than ever.

"Ilustra Hackaton"
Susana Albuquerque & Jorge Silva, Connection from Portugal, CCP

Susana Albuquerque, from Clube Creativos Portugal and Jorge Silva, curator of Ilustra33, presented an Illustration Hackaton that challenged five illustrators to draw live how a new era looks in their minds:

“Illustration is a solitary act of introspection and analysis of our surroundings, so during these challenging times, I have seen emerge many projects related to the lockdown” stated Jorge Silva.

He also shared the work of 33 creatives that responded to the same brief, whose works can be accessed here.

"Rethink the Business of Creativity"
Ian Grais, Co-Founder of Rethink Communications

Ian, one of the founders of Canada’s most awarded agency, shared the keys of his 20 year experience on the business:

“Our guiding principles are People, Product and Project, in that order. For our 20th anniversary we wrote a book expanding on how we applied these principles to our work titled “Rethink the business of creativity”.

We try to explain how to create a sustainable creative culture and department. We believe that if you support your people, people will create the best projects and that will attract the best clients”

"Rebels to recode innovation"
Karel J. Golta, CEO of INDEED

Karel dedicated his talk to analyse the paradoxes of growth and its relations with human and planet wellbeing and shared three steps to rebel against innovation as it stands today:

“Happiness is in decline despite wealth. Why should we earn more if it doesn’t make us happier? We have advanced innovation and technology yet our planet is in a state of emergency. We have slashed biodiversity by 50%. Innovation has increased efficiency but efficiency has increased consumption. Human centricity only accelerates and amplifies these critical patterns. We need to design for more than human worlds. We need to recode innovation. The lens of the user obscures the view of the ecosystem it affects.

I am rebelling innovation as it stands today. I’ve uncovered 3 important steps to take this overtime:

1. We should shift from short fixing to caring (Inspired by futurist and speculative designer Anab Jain)
2. Our companies should shift from planning and strategizing to gardening (Inspired by Deborah Choi, female entrepreneur from Nigeria and founder of Berlin startup Horticure)
3. Our clients should shift from innovation to resurgence (Inspired by the sound ecologist Matt Mikkelsen, who goes into the woods and quietly listens and records the vanishing sounds of nature and also says we need to focus less on endless growth and cyclical forms of nurturing, growing, dying and renewing.)”

"Awakening Purposeful Possibility - Collectively"
Julia von Winterfeldt, Founder of SOULWORX

Julia reflected on the need to ACT, meaning Activating Conscious Transformation, in order to create a better future together:

“With all the uncertainty we are living at the moment, it is the moment to hit the reset button and ask ourselves what we are doing and why. To awake to purposeful creativity, especially amongst leaders.

I founded SOULWORX to awake leaders and their companies to meaningful purposes. To help them explore, transform and humanise their interactions and establish cultures, communities, structures and systems necessary to succeed in times of uncertainty. It hasn’t been easy, up until 2018, purpose in organisations was negated.

My call to action: have the courage to look deep inside yourself and build architectures of connection. It is the greatest act of love you can choose to perform. It is not easy. It is a lifelong journey, but it is worth it”

"How to strategize brands in the age of confusion"
Neutral Communication Agency, Connection from Switzerland

ADC Switzerland invited the agency Neutral to talk about their Hornbach campaign with artist Ai Weiwei:

“The Hornbach campaign is all about the democratisation of art and the creative empowerment of Hornbach clients.

We think everybody should have access to contemporary art. We asked artist Ai Wei Wei to do a work of art with material from DIY retailer Hornbach. The result is a fabulous artwork everybody can build with a manual.

We must replace brand identity with human identity. Change is happening at superspeed. Brands need to become peaceful, honest and human. Art can make a human being become a better human.”

"Stop and Think"
David Ruiz, Connection from Spain, ADG-FAD

Daniel Ayuso, ADG-FAD President introduced the next speaker, David Ruiz, a well-known spanish creative from ruiz+company who invited us to “Stop and Think” through questions and sharing insights of his 4 years experience sailing around the globe:

“If we want to show brands where to go we need to know who we are first, and where we are going.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of my company I decided to close it temporarily and go sailing solo. I spent 4 years travelling and I learnt so much along the way. There were two things that really changed me: Nature and Time. I realised that as human species, we need a long bath of humility, we are an insignificant accident in the history of the planet. We have cancelled the experience of the trip. We are looking for immediacy. We look too much but we see nothing. Why are we running so much?

We’ve been consumed by routine, we should be attentive and ask more questions. We don’t reflect enough. We are in danger of going through life only grazing the surface. We shouldn’t only use creativity for our jobs but also for our lives. Who is going to lead, creativity or technology?

This crisis has shaken our consciousness, let’s take advantage of it. Fears stop us and obsess us. Fear is a sensible advice to get ready. It is not necessary to go around the world to realise all this, but we should connect more with nature, stop and think.”

"Enabling Creativity to Thrive - bringing purpose to publishing"
Alex Bec, Founder of It's Nice That

Alex explained how the platform he created with Will Hudson as college students (It’s Nice That) evolved to into a group of companies with the same goal:

“Just getting bigger is not enough. We advocate for meaningful growth. Our mission is to enable creativity to thrive, and we do it through each of our companies in the following ways:

  • Anyways (Agency): Paying creatives, Helping Clients
  • If You Could (Jobs Board): Helping creatives get jobs.
  • Lecture In Progress (Careers Resource): Helping creatives start their careers.
  • It’s Nice That (Online Magazine): Helping creatives be discovered & supporting their practice

What will be our mission in 2030? We don’t know how the world will look like, but what we know is that creativity will still be going strong and we will try to be there to support it, creating a more diverse industry”.

"From the Generic to the Intersectional"
Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images

From London, Rebecca set out to share how images are used right now and how they might be used in the future:

“At Getty Images, we support a community of photographers, filmmakers and illustrators through briefing and art direction and we try to nudge our customers in the right direction when choosing visual content. It’s worth looking at our top seller images overtime because they show an evolution on what society considers authentic and how much this changes in connection to the times.

Stereotypes are still enduring so we are actively working to change that. How? Training a diverse group of photographers to shoot content for the stock collection that breaks stereotypes representing a wide range of people.

8 in 10 consumers want brands to show all body shapes and types. Diversity and inclusion related searches have doubled since last year, probably fuelled by the Black Lives Matter movement. This shows that we are moving in the right direction, using less generic images and offering more images from underrepresented groups, moving into intersectionality”

"What about Ornella? Lessons learned. Lessons worth sharing"
Charis Tsevis, Connection from Cyprus, The Cyprus Creative Club

Renos Demetriou, the founder of the Cyprus Creative Club presented visual designer Charis Tsevis, who took us on a journey through some of his life-changing learnings:

“The world isn’t as we perceive it. We should be thoughtful before planning to execute anything.

Learning how to learn is important, and learning how to do things takes time.

We should be our only competitors.

What anybody else is doing is none of our business.”

"Consumers to the Rescue"
Mathias Wikström & Johan Pihl, Founders of Doconomy

In their keynote, Mathias and Johan talked about their work, their innovation projects and their perspective on prototyping:

“Prototyping is at the core of succeeding at innovation. It enables us to get intel early on and help shape the result to the needs of the user.

Staying with the problem is key to get to the idea, and testing too.

Protecting the planet will bring us more profits than not protecting it.”

"Can AI be Creative?"
Michael Katzlberger, Connection from Austria, Creativ Club Austria

Michael presented AI potential for creativity with the help of AI:

“The evolution of AI is one of the more exciting scientific events in the development of humankind. AI will be creative, it already is. It’s been used to answer questions, to write articles, to create learning material, to create and interpret music and lyrics, to prototype 3D objects, to edit and process images and videos.

In short, AI can save us a lot of time, money and nerves. Of course, it can also create deep fakes, which makes it difficult to discern real from fake news. The learning curve of AI is steeper than the learning curve of humans.

AI is no evil, only the people who abuse it. See how AI can improve or supplement your practice. Let’s collaborate with AI, not compete”

"AI and Designer Collaboration"
Jonas Lekevičius, Connection from Lithuania, LDA

Staying with the topic of AI, Martynas Birškys, board member of the Lithanian Design Association presented product designer Jonas Lekevičius, who presented more ways to work with AI and not against it:

“When talking about AI on our craft I think it is useful to separate the phases where it can be useful for us: Inspiration, Creation, Production and Evaluation. AI is great to connect ideas, to mix content, to help us with time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and also with decision making. It is important to understand that AI is not coded, it is trained. Therefore, we can easily predict if our job is at risk of automation with three simple questions:

1. Is it repetitive?
2. Can its results become a dataset?
3. Is it worthwhile to automate?

GPT-3 has been a recent breakthrough in the world of AI. It is a language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text with astonishing results”.

"Creativity and Responsibility – a 500 billion Euro question"
Prof. Roland Lambrette, Connection from Germany, ADC für Deutschland

Claus Fischer (ADCE board member and Treasurer) introduced Prof. Roland Lambrette, ADC Germany’s member of honour and one of the most respected creatives in Germany:

“We should be prototyping “us” before we prototype brands.

We are always more fascinated by the idea, than by the values behind it. We need an ethics of communication. We lack images on social utopias. We have to be aware of our power of impact. We are the main creative force for ideas about how we want to live in the future.

Communication as we do it is just as dangerous as Co2, because it is its outcome. It’s hard to talk about reset now, when everything is about survival, but reset the system might be the way to survive. We can only fight the virus if we are more socially responsible, it is the organic way. We have to reject bullshit with courage, be critical and become communicators for the future.

ADCE has the power to communicate what is better and necessary for the future”

"How many hugs?"
Anna Andersone, Connection from Latvia, LADC

Aleksandrs Bētiņš (President of the Latvian Art Directors Club and ADCE board member) introduced Anna Andersone, the CEO of Riga Tech Girls, who shared how a personal experience brought her to found a business with a purpose and a whole social movement:

“My biggest dream has always been to have a warm, long-lasting relationship with my family and I realised my job in a startup was keeping me away from that dream. I had a break-through and I left that life to fulfill my dream.

I came up with a product idea to support that need for care I thought was essential not only to me but to any other human being. Scientific studies demonstrate we need human touch and love to be happy, so I created a sustainable and long-lasting piece of clothing to encourage hugs. We need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 for development.

How many hugs do you have a day?”

"Undistancing Italian Creativity"
Connection from Italy, ADCI

ADCI invited their community to reflect around the term “undistancing”, a new word the Italian creative community has come up with to combat the coronavirus lockdown effect with a bit of humour:

“Undistancing is what should bring our business closer in times when we are asked to be further apart.

We have to make the most of this challenging times to change the rules, make the world a better place, empower diversity and equality”

"Hop off the trend bandwagon before it’s too late"
Tobias Wacker, Connection from Finland, Grafia & hasan&partners

Tobias talked about the dangers of repeating and exploiting what works:

“We are living the consolidation of creativity, and that is dangerous.

For me this consolidation means that everything is, looks and feels the same in the creative business. Brands, commercials and values are the same which makes everything seem a copy.

I think this crisis is a good opportunity to make a change. It’s a good moment to rethink how we build brands and rethink creativity. A purpose can’t be something you do because it is trendy. You can’t copy it, it must be unique. These similarities are killing creativity and are making brands all the same. If you want to stand out, be creative and be yourself.”

"Audio branding – using the example of the upcoming ADC Podcast"
Connection from Germany, Studio Funk, Kids in a Candy Store & ADC für Deutschland

Studio Funk talked about sound branding, and shared some experiences behind their sound branding collaboration with ADC Germany on an upcoming series of podcasts:

“Sound branding is making a brand more recognisable and communicate its values through sound. To achieve this, sound branding can have many different forms, a sound logo, a streamline choice of music, sonification effects or a podcast, the form we developed for ADC Germany. We worked by doing a thorough analyses of ADC values and we concluded that in terms of sound the podcast music had to be fresh, modern, sophisticated, slick and dynamic.”

"Four Challenges to Quarterly Capitalism: How to build a brand for the next 1000 years"
Niklas Lilja, Connection from Finland, Grafia & hasan&partners

Niklas explained how brands who dare to choose long term creativity over short term profits are unlocking immense human, social and business value:

“The four keys to challenge Capitalism are:
1. Long-term thinking
2. Human, not business-driven
3. World Value over Sheer Value
4. Rethinking Business Success

"ADCR Winning Works 2020"
Connection from Russia, ADCR

Alexander Alexeev (ADCR President) invited representatives from BBDO Moscow, Smetana and, TutkovBudkov to present their projects awarded with the Grand Prix, all of them sharing one thing in common, the purpose to make the world a better place:

“Font of Kindness by Smetana and Tutkov Budkov: A unique typeface designed by children with cerebral palsy to raise awareness about the disease and funds to help them get rehabilitation WWF.

Birds Records by BBDO Moscow: a non-profit label that sells samples of birdsong and related merchandise to raise funds for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Russia, boost bird numbers and protect the habitat of endangered species.

S7 Airlines – “We Are Siberia”: a rebranding campaign that brought media focus to the Siberian Wildfires and dedicated part of the airline’s profit to restore the landscape and plant trees”

"The Best of Us'20"
Connection from Ireland, ICAD

An overview of ICAD’s “The Best of Us’20”, a unique exhibition to present the best of Irish advertising and design projected on landmark Dublin buildings:

“The Best of Us exhibition brought life, colour and animation to the city centre.

Its outdoor staging ensured the exhibition could be viewed by thousands, yet be completely compliant with official COVID-safety guidelines.

The exhibits consisted of commended projects from over 600 submissions into the 2020 ICAD Awards, which were judged by a distinguished creative panel of national and international judges”

"Creativity as sports"
Olga Shevchenko, Connection from Ukraine ADC*UA

In her talk, Olga reminded us that creativity can be trained, just as sports:

“Creativity has its own tools and techniques, it can be trained.

If you want to go far, get a team. Learn to cope with stress. Practice a lot.

Tactics and strategies help but plans can fail so be prepared to face the unexpected.

Survival is a basic instinct that pushes us to move forward, evolve and learn”

"Pathways – Europe at Your Fingertips"
Connection from Germany, ADC für Deutschland

A virtual panel discussion with Irene Plank (Strategic Communication Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Robert Werner (Art Director, Artificial Rome) and Imke Jungnitsch and Nicole Hoefer-Wirwas (Co-Founders of BOOST Seminarie) about the motivations behind the creation of the gaming app Pathways:

“Launched this July by ADC Germany, the Pathways app takes players on a virtual journey across Europe showing the diversity of opportunities the continent provides.

Players meet five protagonists – Lucas, Andreas, Frieda, Magdalena and Yanko – and discover through their perspectives, the advantages and challenges of an open, diverse and tolerant Europe.

Using the latest augmented reality technology and intuitive control via smartphone camera, players experience historical buildings, European capitals of culture and important places of political history. The free-to-use, Europe-wide gaming app is available for download. Find more information here

Closing remarks
Ami Hasan, ADCE President

Following the festival’s broadcast, Ami shared this statement on ADCE’s commitment to support Europe’s creative community in these challenging times:

”We truly live in strange times and also rough times for many in the design and marcoms business. Many of us have lost all or parts of their business, a big part of their daily social contacts and also things that may sound small but mean a lot, like ergonomic work benches, readily available coffee and the loving company of an office dog.

The Art Directors Club of Europe is dedicated to bringing education and inspiration to creative professionals in all countries and strengthening the creative community. Therefore, we spared no effort in building a virtual Festival of Festivals and getting contributing speakers from 14 different countries in Europe.

Comments from all over Europe tell me that we were able to spread some happiness to people and some light to their unfortunately unsecure future.”