The One Club has shifted its annual Creative Week event online this May as fears around the global coronavirus outbreak continue to mount.
The organization will also announce the winners of its three award ceremonies—The One Show, ADC and Young One Student Awards—in livestreamed events. The decision comes a week after the organization canceled in-person judging for The One Show awards that would have taken place this month in Puerto Rico.
The event is one of many major business conferences facing cancellation, postponement or diminished turnouts as agencies, tech firms and other companies restrict nonessential travel to avoid exposure to coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
One Club CEO Kevin Swanepoel said the nonprofit took cues from other big trade events like Adobe Summit, Google’s I/O developers conference and Facebook’s F8 developers conference, all of which will also be hosted virtually this year via livestreaming.
“We just think it’s a prudent thing to do,” Swanepoel told Adweek. “We’ve just started to see the virus spread in the U.S., and all these all these things that we do have such a long lead time for planning that in order for us to make a calculated decision, it’s almost impossible to know [what the situation will be like in May].”
COVID-19 has infected more than 100,000 people and killed nearly 3,500 since it was first reported in December. Authorities have reported cases in nearly two dozen U.S. states, and states of emergency have been declared in California, Seattle and New York.
In light of the escalating situation, One Club’s board of directors met late last week after it had already decided to cancel in-person judging, and outlined two possible scenarios for the event, according to Swanepoel.
“We could be like some other festivals … and say, ‘Business as usual, we go full steam ahead,’” Swanepoel said. “Or we can take a more conservative approach, which is risk-averse to individuals in the creative community, and say, ‘How can we create something online that might achieve the same or even greater affect by engaging the global community on a much larger scale?’”
Business-wise, One Club is better positioned to take such measures than the above-mentioned global ad festivals because the nonprofit collects most of its revenue from entry fees, whereas shows like Cannes Lions and SXSW rely heavily on activations and on-site sponsorships. While SXSW organizers stayed committed to hosting a downscaled version even as staple attendees and attractions pulled out, the festival was finally canceled last Friday.
Organizers will now spend a busy weekend hammering out the details of how to translate the programming for the event into a virtual format.
Set to take place the week of May 11-15, Creative Week is usually among New York City’s biggest events for the agency world. One Club is hoping a silver lining of the sudden changes might be a bigger online turnout, but it plans to take the event back into the real world next year regardless of what happens.
“We want to make sure that we let people know that we’re going to be making every effort to to do our creative week next year like we usually do,” said Yash Egami, One Club’s vice president of content and marketing.