New stories needed for a new normal

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Our societies are built on stories.

These stories – of our past, present and future – shape how we think. In turn, the images we see, and the stories they convey to us, shape how we view the world around us. Faced with the new realities of COVID-19, there has never been a better time for designers and artists to pick up their pens, paintbrushes, laptops, whatever, to shape our new world and create positive social impact.

2020 has been a year like no other, it has transformed lives, industries, and many aspects of everyday life. The need for positive messages about the future has never been more urgently required. We just need to look at the boom in numbers of people reading and following the disruptive ‘Good News Movement’ to see how many people are searching for more positivity in the world as a counterweight to “the bad” in the mainstream media.

Positive messages about the future have never been more urgently required

Of course, in times of crisis, creative has also been a powerful tool for communicating important messages. From the allegorical, cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, who represented the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, to 2017 Cannes Lions’ Grand Prix winner 'Meet Graham' from the Transport Accident Commission, that showed (grotesquely) how a human body would need to be built to survive a car crash, visual imagery has been used over the ages to change behaviour or inspire people to do better. The famous Barack Obama “Hope” Poster by Shepard Fairey from 2004 is also a good example of how a simple, stylised design with a positive, future-focused message can cut through public imagination and resonate through the ages.


The ethos of 'designing for good' can be extremely beneficial for speaking to audiences on an emotional and engaging level. Vungle Creative Labs saw this firsthand when it recently answered the UN/WHO’s Global Call Out to Creatives to help stop the spread of Covid-19 through visual content that conveys public health messages quickly and effectively. We created a series of unbranded in-app playable ads that amplified messages about good hygiene and social distancing to gamers worldwide.  

These ads have attracted 36,771,804 million views and are a testament to the power of designing with a purpose.


In-app creative can be extremely effective at spreading messages for social good

This level of engagement shows how powerful and impactful creative can be in driving support for social good causes at a time of crisis, and demonstrates that wider and more diverse audiences, like mobile gamers worldwide, welcome the presence of these creative ads for good. According to market researcher, Newzoo, there are an estimated 2.6 billion mobile gamers worldwide, with mobile game downloads hitting a record 1.2 billion in the first week of April 2020, as people in lockdown turned to mobile gaming as a way to stay entertained while at home. It's clear that in-app creative can be extremely effective at spreading messages for social good across geographies, cultures and languages to this enormous, and still growing, audience.  

Additional creative development insights our team gained include the importance of always being context-sensitive; being nimble and collaborative in the design and development phase; and tapping into core values and beliefs that resonate universally.

In an increasingly virtual world, creative can still reach people in the same way that posters during World War 2 encouraged people to “Dig for Victory” and grow their own food during wartime. Perhaps even more so, now that people are accessing mobile apps for entertainment and information in record numbers.

It’s clear that in-app advertising has a powerful role as a channel for creative and conveying important messages to the public. Even in the most uncertain of times, creative has comforted, encouraged and inspired, and it has been hugely uplifting to see advertising creatives and platform providers alike pull together for a shared cause, to do our part and make a positive impact.

Header image: Pete Ellis.


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