Insight: “No One Can Lock Down Creativity”, MullenLowe PH On Dealing with #WFH and Taking Care of One Another

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES — We are now on Week Two of the Luzon-wide community quarantine, with public transportation still limited, while offices are encouraged to function with a skeletal team, or work from home. This does not exclude the local advertising community, whose briefings, meetings, and regular catch-ups are now regular occurrences on messaging platforms, and usual work environments filled with creatives are now replaced by laptop screens, and pop-up chats.

How will the advertising industry, with its businesses anchored on the constant exchange of creative ideas, survive this lockdown and its lack of inspiration?

In the words of Leigh Reyes, President and Chief Product Officer at MullenLowe Group Philippines,“No one can lock down creativity”. Reyes shared her thoughts with adobo magazine on how MullenLowe has effectively adapted to this new reality, and how the agency is continuing to foster creativity and employee well-being throughout this lockdown.

“No one can lock down creativity," Leigh Reyes of Mullenlowe PH

 

Read her full write-up below:

WHAT WE’VE DONE

For the people of MullenLowe, this holds the record for being the longest Wednesday ever. MullenLowe began WAW (Work Anywhere Wednesday) in 2016, so Mullennials are conscious of having a results-oriented work ethic. We set business continuity plans in motion late February. We switched everyone to MS Teams, tested at-home internet connections, assigned laptops, distributed mask supplies, and informed clients and industry partners that we would run a full work-from-home simulation from March 11 to 13.

When the WHO officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 12, our simulation turned real all too quickly.

We asked team heads for feedback during the simulation, and learned early on how important it was to draw healthy boundaries between work life and home. So we instituted daily agency-wide towncalls to officially open the day. Among the recent themes: “Bring Your Pet,” “Show Us Your Baby Pictures,” and “Which Movie Captures You Best?” Team calls wrap up and set priorities for the next day. Everyone agreed that work felt even busier now, with meetings running into each other. Scheduling (and not expecting instant responses to chat messages!) became not only necessary, but respectful.

We assured the people who help us daily at the office (janitors, guards, etc.) that we would cover their pay for the duration – one less thing for them to worry about. We also decided to release half of the 13th month pay earlier, to prioritize our staff’s welfare.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Our industry does not battle on the frontlines; we can only hope to be of service by helping brands and products remain connected, grounded, truthful, and helpful. A brand, through what it says and does, can ease loneliness, teach new skills, inspire, and simply be a familiar face in a world gone into hiding. Companies are stepping up, donating products and budgets to where they’re most needed. Anselmo Ramos put it best: “It’s a pandemic, not a brief.”

No one can lock down creativity. Our creativity is at work when we think of new ways to cook from cans in the cupboard, dust off board games to entertain our kids (and parents), host Zoom quiz nights with friends, and help frontliners and the disadvantaged through organizing food drop-offs or 3D-printing face shield supports. We will emerge into a new normal, with a heightened awareness of community, grateful for one another and for the lessons we had no choice but to learn.

 


This article is part of a series by adobo magazine exploring the different ways the local creative industry is continuing to produce content and service clients during the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine implemented to avoid the outbreak of COVID-19.

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About the Contributor

Leigh Reyes is the President and Chief Creative Officer of MullenLowe Philippines. Her work has been recognized at both creative and effectiveness shows such as Cannes Lions, Clio, D&AD, Asia-Pacific Adfest, the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Awards, and the Tambuli Awards. She has served on the juries of Cannes Lions, London International Advertising Awards, Adfest and Spikes. She frequently gives talks at industry and academic events. Recently, she hosted a panel on ingenuity at the AMEs, and gave a talk on the maker movement at Cannes’ Young Planners Academy. She was also a creative speaker at Lowe Institute in New York, and was part of the Women in Marketing, Advertising and Media Panel hosted by Interpublic Group at Cannes.

She is a co-founder of the organizing committee of MobileMonday Manila, an open forum for mobile visionaries, professionals and enthusiasts.

Leigh’s interests include vintage and Japanese fountain pens, calligraphy and most things geeky. She is @leighpod on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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