In A Year Of Cut Retainers And Pulled Projects, Creativity Has Blossomed

Boy draws with a brush an abstract big light bulb. Concept of innovation and creativity. Yellow style
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

In this guest post, the Haus design director Hayley Needleman (pictured below) wraps up the year of 2020 and says amid a difficult year, creativity has actually flourished…

From bushfires, to toilet paper shortages and uncomfortable nose swabs, it’s safe to say we’re ready to wrap the bow on 2020 and put this challenging and difficult year behind us. However, while this year was difficult, it also demonstrated spirit in times of crisis, and this spirit has been seen in our industry too.

In a year of cut retainers and pulled projects, in moments of professional adversity, creativity has blossomed.

It’s human nature to innovate and to create to make the world around us a better place. So, before we put 2020 behind us, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate how the industry has risen to the creative challenge, both locally and globally.

Our friends in Melbourne struggled through one of the longest lockdowns seen anywhere in the world, but the closure of cultural icons, galleries and venues presented new opportunities. Ooh!Media launched an outdoor exhibition that showcased works created with a COVID focus, echoing the range of emotions felt by Victorians during isolation. Taking over bus shelters and street furniture, the city became a new canvas that united people in their shared feelings. The campaign brought comfort and joy to Melbournians who could reconnect with their cultural side by seeing artworks created by their neighbours about the pandemic, during the pandemic. We really are in this all together.

Brands also played a key role in supporting federal advice and recommendations, helping to normalise the changing society. Most clear, was McDonalds who separated their famous golden arches for the first time to encourage people to physically distance. A favourite example of mine from this year is TimeOut, who changed their logo to TimeIn.

By doing this they took a stand, and encouraged people to support their favourite venues, restaurants and artists while staying in. This clever pivot (sorry) showed their support and encouraged their audience to do the same. They leant into their brand proposition, and the role the magazine plays in people’s lives by letting us know that “we’ll be here to celebrate and champion you, even if you’re temporarily closed or empty. Because when our cities bounce back – as they always do – we’re going to need that craft beer/weird art exhibition/drag brunch more than ever.”

In a physically distanced world, audiences found new ways to connect with each other and with brands. Enter the rise of TikTok. Already popular, its ability to let individuals (creators) entertain their social network saw the platform reach new heights. As Design Director at The Haus it has been exciting to see our social agency, GROUND, together with Tinder, at the forefront of creator and brand engagement on TikTok this year. The brands audience, Gen Z creators have used their voice to express their point of view and engage with Tinder in new ways such as users rating Tinder opening lines.

Menulog also inspired a wave of creators to interact with their brand on TikTok during lockdown, through their #DeliveryDance competition. Users were encouraged to film a dance to the ‘Did somebody say Menulog’ Song, produced by Australian DJs Mashd N Kutcher to win a year’s supply of Menulog.  By giving the audience the opportunity to have fun with their brand, Menulog democratised creativity for their creators giving them a unique voice.

This year, events were postponed, cancelled and reimagined, and as an industry we adapted. Our engagement marketing agency, Banter, have creatively responded to the challenge of continuing to deliver creative activations for brands. Usually, Sydney Breast Cancer hosts fundraisers in the forms of long lunches, but this year Banter re-considered how they could encourage people to raise funds. They launched their first ever virtual fundraising campaign, burpees4boobs – a challenge to the general public to do as many burpees as they can to raise funds. Across Australia, people got moving during lockdown and found meaning in movement for a good cause. And they were able to assimilate this action into their new behaviours as content creators, and at home exercisers.

So what will 2021 look like? We haven’t quite found ourselves in a post-Covid world yet. But as I write this, restrictions have been eased across NSW and across the country, and there is a buzz in the air around dancefloors and full stadiums. Our industry is celebrating with client dinners and boozy lunches.

2021 is kicking off now, and with more and more Australians out and about, we can expect to see all media back on the table. My prediction for the leading trend of 2021 is user created content (UGC), and our major challenge as an industry is evolving and mapping our creative to this channel. 2020 might have been difficult for all us, but one silver lining, is seeing our industry, brands and their audiences thrive creatively and express themselves creatively, cleverly adapting with every curveball 2020 threw at us.



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