Responses by Bradley Getty, senior associate creative director, Sid Lee
Background: The North Face wanted to start a dialogue with the millennial and Gen-Z generations about an equitable future. We creatively collaborated on the one-minute anthem film with Lena Waithe, one of two experts leading the brand’s new Explorer’s Fund Council initiative. In the video, we wanted to convey the opportunity we have to collectively reset for a brighter future.
Reasoning: We started developing ideas in early 2020, but those changed as the world faced a COVID-19 lockdown and the emergence of social unrest in response to systemic racism. These events helped crystallize for us the role that the North Face should play in society and culture. The concept was born from the new values we had to embrace during the lockdown, especially in its initial stages. All the while, everyone was asking: When we will go back to normal? As the modern civil rights movement spread across the United States and the rest of the world, we kept thinking about our planet’s unequal and uncertain state before the lockdown. We asked ourselves what could we learn from this, and how could we leverage this moment to enact the fundamental actions needed and be the change we seek in the world.
Challenges: We had to “reset” our entire production process—from how we approached creating a TV commercial to the way we worked with different studios in post-production to finalize the product. Each step involved re-thinking old processes to find new results. Lastly, we ran post-production across three cities and two time zones, which we would have never done in a pre-pandemic world.
Favorite details: We considered every detail in the creative process. Our goal was to develop a campaign that engaged more with culture. We obsessed over every element and how it helped contribute to the overall project. For this reason, we were excited to work with Lena, who is the leading voice behind a wider movement. We also featured Aloe Blacc’s new single, ‘My Way,’ as it reinforces the campaign’s motivational tone of inspiring others in a challenging time.
Specific demands: Being in isolation across countries would generally make things more complicated, but the Sid Lee team used the time difference to accelerate the work. This relay race strategy is an optimization that we have adopted across other projects, further cementing Sid Lee as having one philosophy within our larger creative community.
Alternative approach: We wouldn’t change anything that happened. With every curveball 2020 threw at us, the world continued to push the creative process forward and tested our thinking. Ultimately, much like the journey of climbing a mountain, the obstacles you encounter along the way gives you the perspective and clarity to appreciate the view once you reach the top.