Covid-19 is testing the leaders of creative agencies large and small. Overnight, business has changed. Clients’ needs have changed. It’s not about marketing anymore. It’s about survival. And hope.
While many leaders are understandably focused about making payroll, it is worthwhile to think further ahead. Where do the opportunities lie? How do we get our business in better shape to attack when the crisis abates? And what might the future look like on the other side of this?
A couple of themes really stand out for me:
1. Purpose in action.
Unlike other crises which may have felt distant, this one is in our faces. It is leaving behind a trail of devastation far greater than the pandemic itself. At a time like this, people don't need crass product pushing but genuine support. Brands that are in a position to help, should. Now is the time to put purpose into action. People will remember the ones that made a difference to their lives.
A handful of brands in food, home entertainment and telecommunication are facing unprecedented demand. To meet and manage the surge, they are pivoting faster to digital, innovating new distribution models, and creating new products and experiences. This is an exciting opportunity for agencies to get to the heart of what these brands really sell and how they can continue to sell it in a changing world. The intersection of design, technology, media and communication offer new possibilities for brand innovation.
3. New partnerships.
Work still needs to happen but now in a totally different way. With film production at a standstill, we'll see more collaborations with visual artists. With live events cancelled, we'll see many go virtual. More independents and specialists will team up on new business to create far more interesting work. It's about finding ingenious ways around constraints, at speed.
4. Campus to cloud.
Agencies will calculate the costs and risks of having all their people under one roof. The past few weeks have been one giant experiment in remote working. And while it isn't perfect, it has shown companies that creativity and productivity can flourish in the cloud. We may miss the spontaneous connection, energy and conversation with people in the office. Yet it has also forced people to be more disciplined, efficient and focused about how they spend their time.
5. The heads without the overheads.
The best talent is now widely dispersed. Why have high overheads when a panoply of digital tools have made it possible to work together in a seamless way? It's time for agencies to offer up new financial models, new structures, new client and partner arrangements to fit our brave new world.
It’s easy to see the longer-term picture as one of doom and gloom. There will be challenges but also much change for the better.
People are going to launch products. They're going to create new companies. They're going to bring different crews of people together, and there's going to be some amazing businesses that start out of this crisis. At Studio Jigsaw this is what excites us most.
Good luck, everyone.
And see you on the other side.