This painful time can be a catalyst for a new wave of creativity

This painful time can be a catalyst for a new wave of creativity

Focus on long-term values will help to guide us through uncertainty.

Life after lockdown will be different. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, with unpredictable consequences for the short term, it is important to focus on long-term values.

First, this industry’s greatest strength is its talent and quarantine has proved it. "Most people are more resilient, adaptive, kinder and more caring than you ever thought," Nadja Lossgott, executive creative director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, says in our feature about how advertising folk have coped with working from home.

Second, communications and media are becoming more central to our lives as technology makes us more connected. We will debate how the government handled the coronavirus pandemic for years to come but there is no doubt that when it zeroed in on its policy of suppression, the relentless "Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives" messaging was crucial in persuading Britons to obey.

Third, the office matters. This crisis has demonstrated that it’s possible to work remotely and flexibly, without having to travel. But as finance and HR chiefs look to slash costs, we must remember that creative businesses thrive on a sense of place and serendipity. Shrinking office space risks atomisation, alienating young talent and undermining the culture of brands, agencies and media owners.

Fourth, long-term brand-building works. We are facing an estimated 40% plunge in adspend in the second quarter, but a recession can be one of the best times to advertise. Brands that invest in extra share of voice – sometimes while still being able to cut spend – will grow faster than competitors in the recovery, as Peter Field’s examination of case studies from the IPA databank during the 2008 recession showed.

Fifth, it is always a good time to experiment. Businesses from Tesco to WPP say that they have seen more change and innovation in the space of a few weeks than in a decade. 

And new entrants are coming. James Murphy and David Golding will launch their follow-up agency to Adam & Eve later this month.

I hope we will look back on this painful time as a catalyst for a new wave of creativity.

Gideon Spanier is UK editor-in-chief at Campaign

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