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From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Lenovo Evolve Small

Winner in Business to Business

Audience Honor in Business to Business


Lenovo has a long legacy as a friend and supporter of small businesses, keeping a pulse on what matters most to them. Out of this legacy was born Lenovo Evolve Small, a platform dedicated to supporting small business employees and owners by providing technology, financial aid, and access to mentorship opportunities to fill their unique needs. Small businesses were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects have lasted long afterward. Numerous community businesses across the country, especially ones with female and minority ownership, had to permanently close. Businesses that were lucky enough to survive have faced the extremely daunting challenge of competing against big name companies for consumer attention. Lenovo saw that small businesses were struggling, with one of their primary challenges being rebuilding their brand and customer base – largely due to their inexperience in marketing. Lenovo conducted research that showed nearly half of small business owners are left to handle complete marketing efforts on their own. Additionally, over half of small business owners reported a significant unfamiliarity with digital tools as a challenge in creating promotional efforts. In October 2022, Lenovo Evolve Small set out to power the revival of small businesses across the country by giving them access to what they need most – marketing know-how, technology and assets featuring thumb-stopping, big-name talent.  

Strategy and Execution

Lenovo’s strategy was simple – support North American small businesses by improving their marketing efforts. To do this, we flipped the script on a traditional celebrity brand endorsement; instead of hiring celebrity talent to promote Lenovo, we partnered with a celebrity to become the face of thousands of small businesses. After an extensive search, Queen Latifah rose above, due to her personal experience as a small business owner and resonance with the target market of women and minority owned businesses. To ensure that each small business owner truly received a bespoke endorsement from Queen Latifah, we leveraged AI technology to develop a custom video generator – all the business had to do was enter in its name and location, and out popped a seamless :15 video from Queen Latifah herself promoting the business.  

Lenovo launched the initiative at its annual Main Street Festival in October, an event that celebrates its commitment to small businesses in its headquarters of Raleigh. At the event, Lenovo premiered its creative campaign featuring Queen Latifah as the Queen of Small as well as two real businesses that had been supported by Evolve Small – 321 Coffee of Raleigh and Luv Fats of Austin. Lenovo shared these assets via organic social and paid media, bolstered by Queen Latifah’s own social posts promoting the platform. We conducted media outreach across technology, business, and multicultural outlets.  

Lenovo also knew that it could have a greater impact on a small number of businesses through monetary support and technology resources. As part of the initiative, Lenovo ran a contest to award three grand prize winners with a $30,000 cash donation, a technology upgrade worth $10,000, access to Lenovo’s business experts and a 1:1 mentorship session from Queen Latifah herself. To bring further awareness to the winning businesses of Fit Body by Ashley, Fit4Dance and Bottoms Up Bagels, Lenovo conducted earned media outreach in the business's local markets of LA, NY and Baltimore. Lenovo also sponsored a $10,000 grant for 30 businesses via Goodie Nation, a non-profit that provides mentorship and support to small businesses and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. Finally, Queen Latifah herself picked a business she wanted to support, visiting her hometown of Newark, NJ to surprise the owner of Off the Hanger with a Lenovo technology upgrade. 


Lenovo and Zeno flipped the traditional marketing campaign and gave thousands of small businesses access to big name talent. Lenovo’s innovative use of AI to create custom videos was game-changing for small businesses to utilize.  

Lenovo Evolve Small drove massive impact throughout 2022.  

Lenovo also reached its goal of driving greater awareness of its efforts among the small business audience.  


Video for Lenovo Evolve Small

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Zeno Group, Lenovo


Entry Credits