December 10, 2020


by Aalastair Sibley in News

In This Episode You Will Learn:  

  • Which words communicators voted on as the 2020 Word of the Year   
  • How different generations are demonstrating differences in optimism/pessimism about 2021  
  • A new way brands can measure to what degree they’re regarded as a purpose-driven brand and whether that purpose resonates with its consumers  

Against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, the events of 2020 have brought new challenges no one was prepared for, changing the way we live and how we connect with each other.  From the economic effects and catastrophic loss of life brought on by COVID-19 to new effects from the climate change crisis, transformative moments in the Black Lives Matter protests, and a highly contentious U.S. election, 2020 was as sobering as it was defining. Hosts Nancy Anderson, associate vice president of social and content for Red Havas U.S., and Richard Clarke, executive director for Red Havas U.K., set this scene for our final “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” podcast episode of the year.  

When discussing an approach for the December episode, we were most intrigued by how language has been used to describe this unconventional year. In particular, we wanted to get a read on what this year has been like for comms professionals.  This led our agency to ask our colleagues globally: What one word could be used to describe how communications specifically have shapeshifted in 2020?  


Nearly 150 Redsters took us up on the challenge of identifying their word of 2020. To quote the Oxford Dictionaries President, “It’s both unprecedented and a little ironic; in a year that left us speechless, 2020 has been filled with new words unlike any other.”    

What surprised us was that, much like the team at Oxford Dictionaries, which couldn’t identify a single word or phrase to coalesce around this year, Redsters put forward more than 70 words. The two most-mentioned were pivot and unprecedented—each with eight mentions. Zoomvirtual and digital were next, each with six mentions.

To explore these results, Richard is joined by Dino Delic, director of enterprise analytics and insights for Meltwater, a leading media monitoring and social listening platform. Before the recording, Dino sliced and diced the data we received to pull out some insights, like which generation is emerging from 2020 with the most optimism. Dino also reveals his personal pick for word of the year: backlash.  

Dino and Richard go on to highlight how purpose-driven some of the biggest and best-known brands have been during their pandemic-era communications, and together they introduce Meltwater’s new Purpose Index. Explains Dino, “The purpose of the Purpose Index is not to provide a number, because as we know, people love to chase numbers; it’s not to provide a number that you would need to hit, like a reputation score or something like that. It’s to identify the traits and the messages that are coming through in your own messaging, and that are being received by publications through the earned messaging or the earned coverage that a company might get.”  


Closing out the episode with the final Red Questionnaire segment of the year, Georgina Thompson, senior account director at Red Havas U.K, chats with Bukola Garry, Havas’ diversity and inclusion manager. After four years of experiencing the underrepresentation of POC within the consumer goods industry, Bukola changed career paths and moved into the social sector developing programs and initiatives in partnership with Local Authorities, Trusts and Funds to create employability pathways for underrepresented talent. It was through these two pathways that Bukola came to join Havas in October 2018.​ Bukola was recently featured in Campaign’s Adland Has BAME Talentin 2020, highlighting those changing the game as Black and Asian creators, leaders and influencers, and shortlisted as part of the IPA’s iList, celebrating and showcasing industry role models promoting and championing inclusivity. 

Each month, we ask our Red Questionnaire guests the same set of questions—e.g., first job, favorite cliché, number of stamps in their passport. Georgina also asks Bukola about how to make strides toward eradicating racism after this tumultuous year. Bukola reveals that she’s been struck by the backlash to a recent holiday commercial for Sainsbury gravy featuring a Black family, and what it indicates about society. “2020 has been a year of so much unrest,” says Bukola. “But I think it also has presented an opportunity to reflect and to really kind of learn and change how we move forward.”  

Bukola also tells us what she considers to be an emotional superpower and shares the personal mantra that keeps her invigorated for life—spoiler alert: It’s a great one.  

Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app. Don’t forget to rate and review to help more people find us!