Isabel Van den Broeck, Managing Director of Creative Belgium, spoke with Media Marketing

Creative Belgium - just like the ACC - gives the best of itself to support its members and creativity in the broadest sense. Managing Director, Isabel Van den Broeck, explains all the measures that have been taken since the start of the lockdown to ensure that Belgian creativity comes stronger out of this crisis.


What impact does the current crisis have on Creative Belgium?

I try to see things in perspective as much as possible. It is not up to us to be ‘in the picture’ now. The team is 2/5 economically unemployed and we will continue to slow down over the next few weeks or months. 

Of course, it is still our members' first priority to help people, employment and customers. But we hope that despite the fear and this unprecedented crisis, brands are focusing more than ever on creativity.

Creative Belgium tries to keep in touch with the agencies to get a correct view on the challenges the sector is facing today. Then we look at what challenges our own organization has to deal with. Finally we must try to handle all these challenges as well as possible.


Did you have to make any special arrangements internally and towards your members?

We changed the entry deadline for the Creative Belgium Awards quite quickly (which was postponed to June 30 instead of March 15). In a few weeks or months – when hopefully everything restarts - we will get back to working on the awards show. We want to continue to fulfill our promise to celebrate the best Belgian work, even during these difficult times.

We made a clear statement by announcing that this year's ceremony will be free and by invitation. A risky decision, but this way, we hope to help the Belgian agencies where we can. This year, we are skipping an expensive party and expensive entrance tickets, but we will still be able to hand out awards and give a warm applause for the best winning work. 

Obviously, our other events scheduled in April, May and June have been canceled, but hopefully we will still be able to welcome Fernando Machado this year. Belgium was certainly one of the few countries he wanted to visit and we are still on his to do list.

The Cannes Lions and the LIA - to name just two - have been canceled. Do you really think you can organize the CB Awards in September?

We think it is especially important that the work from 2019 will be rewarded. Also - and especially - during this period, we must be able to demonstrate the power of creativity.   

International organizations such as D&AD maintain the judging and award ceremony, but not the physical awards show. Cannes Lions canceled everything. We will continue to believe and work hard. At the beginning of this week the city of Knokke has confirmed that the Creative Belgium Awards currently have to follow federal guidelines and do not see any problem from within the city (provided that it would be federally allowed, of course). Hopefully we can confirm at the end of June how we will announce the winners, how many people will be attending the ceremony, how the invitations will be sent, etc ..   

Our jury presidents have their selection of judges ready, but we'll wait until June to see how and when we can judge this year's submissions, anyway we will demand the strictness and integrity we always expect from our judges.   

We are certainly strengthened by the positive feedback from the industry, people believe this is the right approach. And we hope through the savings agencies will make on the ceremony, they will have some more leeway to enter work for the awards. 


Is it still possible to support the creative community in this lockdown period?

As an organization, we are always there for our members and for those who seek advice or want to discuss their options.

Some projects continue as usual, such as the submissions for the New Talent Award (deadline 4 May).

And we will try to inspire from a distance. This week we launched "After Hours" on our digital platforms. We want to show side projects of our members or other creatives to inspire each other. The After Hours project was on our wishlist and now was a good time to launch it.

End of April we will launch "bring out the best", showcasing the big CBA winners of the past decade. We hope to keep inspiring creatives by showing the most creative and effective campaigns of the last 10 years during these difficult times.

They say that a crisis brings out the best in you. We like to believe that this is true. Teenagers get groceries for their older neighbors. Initiatives are being launched to support local businesses. We've taken Zoom to a higher level of creativity to keep in touch with family and friends ... We see the ingenuity around us in many little things. That gives me pleasure.


What is your main message to creatives, agencies and advertisers?

Art directors, designers, copywriters ... enough creatives who are currently (part-time) temporarily unemployed. Let's show the world that we are always creative. We have already seen some initiatives last week, but I would like to launch an extra call not to waste good talent and to continue to use it. So try to help local businesses where possible. Independent entrepreneurs can undoubtedly use advice or need creative ideas to get going again as soon as it is allowed.