pacman tiling on subway

Thursday Thinky: Games, Makers & Conspiracy

We are a day away from a 3-day weekend! What does that even mean in the current times? I don’t know. But we hope that this week’s Thinky gives you enough inspiration to come up with fun projects to take advantage of your Memorial Day Weekend.

Have a good read!


Creative & Brand

From Amy (SVP Brand + Creative): Travel and tourism have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, leaving brands and destinations to come up with new ways to stay relevant and top-of-mind while we’re all, for the most part, still staying super close to home. But even though we can’t physically go anywhere, many people are use technology as a virtual escape. And gaming, of course, is the perfect platform for that.

One of the games that’s really taken off during the past few months has been Animal Crossing, on Nintendo Switch. So the virtual world seemed like a natural spot for Singapore’s Sentosa Island resort to recreate its beaches and drive awareness for when travel resumes. “We wanted to speak to everyone who’s longing for their life pre-Covid,” says BBH strategy chief Rebecca Ash. “While not all of them would own a Switch or the Animal Crossing game, what we saw in the data showed a wide cultural appeal.”

There are two interesting takeaways here, as it relates to the NPO world. First, that gaming should no longer be thought of as niche—it is mainstream, and we need to be thinking about ways to reach and activate audiences in this new channel as part of our overall strategy. Second, that as a culture, we’re in the “fatigue” phase of this crisis, where we’re all longing for something that feels more ‘normal’ or escapist. Any opportunity for NPOs to provide those kind of escapes is also an opportunity to reach new audiences, and to start building awareness for the long haul.

The all-important creative designed to help domestic abuse victims during lockdown (The Drum)

From Amy (SVP Brand + Creative): Almost every country that reports on domestic abuse incidents has seen a spike since the pandemic began. In fact, the UN estimates there will be 15M more cases of domestic abuse violence worldwide this year. It’s not hard to see why: more couples stuck at home together for extended periods of time can lead to stress in even the most stable relationships. But put that same strain on an already abusive situation, with no ability for escape because of lockdowns and health concerns, and the situation can escalate at an alarming rate. It’s not an issue that’s going unnoticed, though.

Abuse prevention and support organizations around the globe are working overtime to reach both victims and their families and friends, looking to raise awareness of the signs, provide resources and support, and offer outlets for finding help. The challenge, though, is that all of this work is reliant on funding, and donations have plummeted across the NPO sector, with most of what is coming in being directed to issues and organizations that are viewed as serving the “front lines.” This article explores how 7 different organizations are addressing these hurdles.

Puzzle Break – Players are flocking to this digital escape room, built with Zoom and Google Drive (Fast Company)

From Amy (SVP Brand + Creative): Escape rooms became the epitome of “team building” outings over the last couple of years. But of course, all that came grinding to a halt with COVID. Or….did it? “Puzzle Break, an escape room company with four U.S. locations, a presence on Royal Caribbean cruise ships, and a traveling program that visits business conventions, devised a virtual version of its challenge the Grimm Escape that can be played by remote teams during virus lockdowns.”

It’s built on a crazy combination of Zoom for interaction, and Google Drive for file and clue sharing, and it’s taken off more than anyone could have expected. But not just by companies looking to bring their remote teams together to do something fun. Families and friends are getting in on the action, too. It’s some pretty good proof that we’re not quite worn out by virtual experiences just yet–which gives a great foundation for thinking about how to continue creating these for our own organizations, now and in the future.

SilkSilk Picks Up on a Fun Neighborly Milk-Delivery System Amid Covid (Muse by Clio)

From Amy (SVP Brand + Creative): You’d think that one of the biggest challenges of creating breakthrough advertising, marketing, and content in general right now would be the physical restrictions on production. Most studios are still closed, on-location shoots would be tough to pull off staying 6-feet apart, you get the gist. But the limitations have actually led to some pretty ingenious approaches, especially when it comes to videos and commercials.

This latest one from Silk (the makers of almond milk, almond yogurt, etc.) was cast and shot entirely in one director’s neighborhood, with the director’s son and wife playing the main characters. The story is pretty cute, too, and feels appropriately crafty and delightful for the “make the best of it” situation we all find ourselves in right now. Who says you always have to have big budgets in order to tell great stories? Not us. 🙂


Ikea – Ikea Campaign Takes a Stand Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (AdWeek)

From Safiyyah (Senior Account Strategist): We’re at home, but do we all feel at home? Unfortunately, the discrimination and microaggressions the LGBTQ+ community faces on a daily basis often extend into the spaces that are supposed to be safe. But what really makes a home a welcoming place to unapologetically be yourself? Ultimately, it’s the people in your life that shape that feeling. And on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on March 17, IKEA invites you to #BeSomeonesHome.

The ad’s beauty is in its simple reminder that we can all create a feeling of “home” for those in our lives who feel ostracized or alone. There’s no petition to sign, no donation to match. In this case, the most powerful action to take is to let our LGBTQ+ friends know they are loved and accepted no matter where they physically live. The #BeSomeonesHome campaign is a fantastic follow-up from a company who was the first to feature a same-sex couple in a mainstream campaign – decades before it was trendy to do so. This new ad is also a sign that talking about transgender rights and equality is entering mainstream culture, and it’s encouraging that global brands like IKEA are helping to set that stage.



Work & Co – Work & Co Built a Tool to Help NYC Healthcare Workers With Some Basic Needs (Muse by Clio)

From Amy (SVP Brand + Creative): Everyone has been effusive in their gratitude toward healthcare workers throughout this crisis. But while gratitude is important, it doesn’t help doctors, nurses, technicians, EMTs, food service workers, janitors, or other medical support staff take care of their kids, buy food, or support their mental health.

A new tool called Health Supply, from Work + Co, is aiming to solve these needs (only in NYC and its boroughs right now) by connecting healthcare workers with community volunteers who can pitch in and provide assistance. The volunteers are coming from three local aid orgs: Mutual Aid NYC for grocery shopping and delivery; Workers Need Childcare for childcare services; and the NYC COVID Care Network for mental health requests. It’s a TaskRabbit, of sorts, but with the express goal of providing free services to those who are doing so much to serve us. What a wonderful use of technology improve lives IRL.



FacebookBorn in quarantine (

From Nicola (Account Director): This isn’t a fundraising message, more of a shout out to storytelling and the power of video. I watched this video two weeks ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s a Mother’s Day video about a 100 year old woman who was born during a quarantine and brings hope and connection we all need right now. Videos from nonprofit organizations do not need to be as professional as this one. What’s important is strong storytelling and a message that connects with the audience. A simple, heartfelt interview that is authentic and emotional can be recorded on a cell phone and easily shared on social media and in email. If this video had a donate button at the end I would have easily made a gift.



From Clara (Senior Account Strategist): The chatboard, the celebrity doctor, the Activists, the M.M.A. Fighter, and the Politician: these were the stepping stones to the viral infection of “Plandemic” sweeping the Internet and at last seeping into the mainstream media. In a time when true breakthrough messaging is an endangered species, and facts and information are more critical to our survival than ever, this movie, spinning a tale of misinformation about a conspiracy by a shadowy group of actors who were using the virus for their own profit, was the one that topped them all.

For those of us who dedicate our skills, time, passion, and expertise to crafting informed, influential, and powerful messaging for impact, it is stunning and painful to see this film, featuring a discredited scientist, take over the Internet, reach millions of screens, and infiltrate movements in such an incisive way. There are numerous applications for the learnings we can take from this video and its spread: lessons about real organic adoption, platform responsibilities, the ever-thickening walls around existing echo chambers, and the mounting challenges we face as communicators of truth and intent. YouTube and Facebook have since taken the video down for violating their misinformation policies, but as we all know, what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. The struggle is real, and if we want to win, we need to make sure we take note of the lessons we can learn from events like this and adjust our strategies accordingly. Game on, people. Game on.


Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

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