If you’re like me, you’ve been mostly staying at home for the past seven months, venturing outside carefully every once in a while for the odd socially distant activity.
For an industry built on creativity, culture and human interaction, I can’t think of anything less inspiring than that.
Talk to any agency ECD, and they’ll agree: creativity under lockdown isn’t easy.
Virtual brainstorms are tough. Agencies are trying to use digital tools to replace in-person collaboration. Google docs, for example, are the new virtual blackboard. Slack channels are feeds of daily inspiration, replacing the water cooler conversations that arise organically in an office.
But many senior creatives maintain that inspiration thrives and multiplies when it bounces off of the shared energy of people in the same room. That just doesn’t happen over Zoom. And I think we can all agree, we’re totally burnt out by video chats.
So if it’s true that working from home stifles creativity, why are the creative minds in our industry continuing to churn out amazing work, whether by jumping through hoops to pull off COVID-19-safe productions or throwing out the script altogether on how creative should be made?
Because working from home is allowing a different type of creative talent to shine.
The stereotypical creative person is opinionated and energized by human interaction. But so many artists are introverts at heart. Working from home has allowed shier, less forthright creative talent shine in a way they simply can’t in a crowded room, said Antoine David, co-founder and CEO of Paris-based creative agency Rosbeef!.
That ability to stand out is playing out in the virtual pitch room at agencies like GroupM’s m/Six, where less high-profile talent is being given the opportunity to present to clients they often wouldn’t get in person.
The pandemic is also creating space for creative talent with a sharp understanding of emerging media channels. Online engagement is exploding, rewriting the playbook yet again on how brands and consumers interact. Just one example: Rosbeef! launched a new clothing collection for French clothing brand GEMO entirely within the world of Animal crossing.
“Our creatives have been very proactive in taking a subject, taking a medium, and trying to find ideas,” David said.
Creativity is also driven by constraint. Clients have less budget to put toward creative work as they navigate their way through the COVID-19 crisis, forcing agencies to get crafty in how they pull off innovative and high-quality campaigns.
Brands across categories from tech to pharma are navigating remote shoots, repurposing b-roll images in interesting ways and taking advantage of virtual casting and filming to feature more diverse people and locations in their campaigns.
So while we’re all missing human connection and interaction (especially us extroverts out there), I think we can safely say that the industry has proven creativity is not confined to the four walls of an office.