With many of our traditional channels – experiential, stunts, OOH – off the cards in the mid- to post-lockdown world, a conversation I keep finding myself having with both clients and colleagues is – ‘what does epic look like right now?’
Why does it matter?
For me it’s the difference between an idea truly cutting through, or not.
There are lots of good ideas that get made but unless they’re epic, they’re not remembered.
Trying to distill what makes an activation epic is tricky, to say the least, but it’s something I’ve been pushing myself and our team to do.
So here’s a starter for 10.
Does size matter?
Perhaps the most obvious place to start is scale – something that certainly plays a role in making an idea epic.
Two campaigns that instantly spring to mind are bringing a full-size Bugatti made of LEGO to the UK and building a 16ft set of working lungs for E.ON.
Both of these had a wow factor in size, complexity, and visual impact.
But the flip side is that epic can also come in small packages.
Skoda’s recent ‘Shot at Home’ ad (using toy cars to do exactly that) was epic on the smallest of scales.
Digital versus real-world? Does something have to exist in the real world to be classed as epic?
That’s one I’ve been contending with a lot recently, as making something feel epic in the digital space is certainly no mean feat.
Yet when I look at some of the amazing digital work that has been going on since lockdown – from virtual gallery openings to artist JR’s virtual yearbook – these definitely have a sense of epic-ness about them.
Is epic all about entertainment?
It can feel tempting to say so but when a brand gets social responsibility right it can equally give us the epic ‘feels’ in today’s complex world.
LVMH’s pivot into producing facemasks early on in the Covid crisis – on a mass scale and without too much fanfare – is its own version of epic, precisely because it was done at speed and without virtue signalling.
Entertaining the masses was the last thing on their mind.
So, what is the essence of epic?
Whilst I’m not sure I’ve found the exact formula – if I had I’d probably retire right now – it definitely feels like the above are at least a good starting basis.
What’s clear though is that it’s a constantly moving target.
The one certainty that remains is that epic is still an incredibly important thing for us to aim for, even if it remains as intangible as ever.