McKinney CD Jordan Eakin offers his take on the Richmond Show

McKinney CD Jordan Eakin offers his take on the Richmond Show

July 16, 2020

COVID-19 continues to upend everyone’s best-laid plans, and industry award shows have been no stranger to that. Some shows switched to different forms of online announcements while others decided on outright cancellation. The Richmond Show opted for a virtual affair: Their “Special Operation: The Show Must Go Online” is now scheduled for July 17 at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live. You can watch it here.

McKinney CD Jordan Eakin served as a judge for the Richmond Show. He talks about his judging experience earlier this year — before COVID arrived — and how things have changed a whole lot since then.

The Richmond Show has a pretty storied history. What was the judging experience like — what, in particular, stuck out to you?

For starters, the Richmond Ad Club was a gracious host. The judging experience was a well-oiled machine and it was an honor to judge the show this year. I wasn’t at all surprised by the caliber of the work; the Richmond area has been a hot spot for creativity for the better part of a quarter century.

Were there any unexpected moments, a campaign or execution that caught you by surprise?

There were two campaigns with core ideas so spot-on they elicit this weird reaction that’s equal parts praise for such a powerful concept and self-pity for not having thought of it myself: 

Purina Mills Project Recoop — To combat nature’s fury in flood-prone farmland, Purina Mills built a buoyant chicken coop that would rise on stilts during flooding, sparing the lives of chickens that would otherwise be trapped in submerged coops. The focused execution spoke volumes about Purina Mill’s understanding of their demographic and commitment to the well-being of animals.

Oreo Music Box — Where do I start with this one…the custom brand-centric music track by Wiz Khalifa? The tiny music box that spins an Oreo cookie like a record so you can hear the custom brand-centric music track by Wiz Khalifa? The fact that if you play the crème side of the Oreo on the music box you hear the karaoke version of that same custom brand-centric music track by Wiz Khalifa? This campaign showed the judges a new spin on tech coupled with the ideal artist partnership that brought to life a beautiful evolution of the Stay Playful campaign for Oreo that you couldn’t help but love. Bravo to all those involved.

The world has been through a seismic change recently that has affected the daily lives of everyone. A year from now, do you expect to see all COVID all the time at award shows?

The 2021 award season will likely be swamped with more nimble, scalable, turnkey projects due to the current production logistics and social-distancing protocols. Along with flattening the pandemic curve we could see a flattening of the production budget playing field, giving rise to powerful ideas coming to life in unexpected ways. Remember the Pringles banner ad that won a Gold Cyber Cannes Lion in 2009? I see a surge of that kind of adaptive and engaging creative coming our way.

However, the market is now flooded with messages articulating how a brand is championing something in this new era, but it’s all bleeding together. Matt Buechele summed it up nicely back in April. The progressive move now is to lean hard into a brand’s ethos and focus on why your brand is relevant now more than ever. Is that a COVID message? No. It’s a simple message from the heart. We need more of that.

Any thoughts on how the coronavirus has changed your thinking? And, is that a good thing; a silver lining, of sorts?

My boss, Jonathan Cude, decided at the beginning of this whole mess to visit in-person with everyone in the creative department while we’re working from home. When it was my turn for a visit, he pulled into our driveway and we adhered to strict social-distancing practices (he stayed in his car). It was his first time seeing our old farmhouse so I pointed out different structures and half-finished projects around the property, spoke about the history of the place, talked cars for a bit (he’s BMW I’m Audi) and after a half hour or so he was off to the next creative’s home. He was the first co-worker I had seen in person in two months.

I miss my co-workers a great deal — as I’m sure many of us do. Video calls are here to stay but they can only do so much. Zoom has pulled back the curtain and intermingled a once-private family life with professional responsibilities. We see our coworker’s kids, their spouses ambling about in the background, their pets howling for attention in the middle of client presentations, and the single co-workers with infinite patience waiting on mute while the meeting slowly starts to get back on track. Daily waves of empathy are the norm now and that’s always a good thing. It makes our teams, our work, and our hearts stronger.

Whether it’s in North Carolina’s Phase 3 or long after, I know I’ll be overwhelmingly thankful to be with my friends at McKinney again.