Feeling the festive spirit – could experiential and tech be the key to advent success?
Jay Short argues that innovation in festive campaigns comes in the form of experiential
It isn’t easy to stay creative in an always-on pressurised environment, but these inspiring reads can help.
It is not easy to stay creative in the midst of a global pandemic. Yet for the creative industries, built almost entirely on the ideas and energy of its people it should be a business priority.
In the wake of the global pandemic, across the industry, there has been a drive to refocus on the joy of the little moments of connection and inspiration. Yet it is not always easy to carve out the space and time for the things that matter.
The end of the summer brings with it the opportunity to muster up some new term energy, regardless of your age. Creative input is essential for creative output, so in a time where inspiration has been hard to come by, we asked some industry experts where they found their creative fuel this summer,
2021 feels like a game of two halves; a stage of adaptation, followed by an opportunity to flourish.
Inspiration so often comes from living and breathing the world around you and a Spring of adapting the senses and finding pockets of creative inspiration in unfamiliar places has been the real big adventure of the year.
The majority of our work at RPM is getting to the heart of how consumers experience our client’s brands and nothing has been more adaptable than brand experience in the last 18 months.
I’ve found so much joy and expression in social media – not just through people celebrating the return of summer and being back together, but by also getting a sneak peek into how people’s experiences have adapted to the ‘new normal’ – and this delight is fed back into the work with our clients – being enablers of the escapade and the champions of togetherness.
Clubhouse has been an awesome resource for thought-provoking insight and a great way to network with people in similar industries – being able to listen and share on an audio platform has had the added benefit of getting me away from my screen!
Where am I getting my inspiration from this summer? In a word, life.
After restrictions were eased, I made a promise to myself to get out as much as possible. Spend quality time with friends, get to the cinema, see a show or exhibition, preferably something I wouldn’t have usually have thought of seeing before. The Bellotto exhibition at the national gallery was an unexpected treat that pre-covid I probably would have passed on.
I always tell my creative teams to be a sponge, soak up life, art and culture as much as you can, and beware of routine as it’s the enemy of creativity. And there’s nothing better to soak up than a full, curious life when you need to find some inspiration.
Inspiration (and its catalyst serendipity) has been in short supply in the last 18 months, so during these times of intense uncertainty, I’ve been taking my inspiration from what doesn’t change, revisiting the philosophies and strategies that underpin the work we do every day.
An emphasis on re-examining my core skills has helped me challenge my assumptions and the beliefs that have calcified over 15-odd years in the industry. I took Mark Ritson’s mini-MBA in marketing, graduating in July; we’re now sending all of our senior team on the same course, ensuring a focus on best practice is consistent throughout the agency. It has sparked new conversations, new perspectives and better work for clients; all of which I find inspiring.
I also take great energy from how our people have faced down the challenges of the pandemic; doubling down on culture, dedicating incredible amounts of energy to overcoming seemingly relentless challenges and using a time of crisis to both take care of each other and take stock of where The Specialist Works is going - then forging ahead.
After such a long period of unhappiness and uncertainty, I’m taking my inspiration from the tangible sense of optimism that’s gradually creeping back into life. People are allowing themselves, finally, to get excited about going on holiday again, or even just do ‘normal’ stuff like going to the pub again, hanging out in the park with friends, or going to the cinema. Even getting back to the office feels like a social event. We have a responsibility as ad people to reinforce that positivity; to lift everyone with upbeat messaging and uplifting design languages.
So, as a designer, one thing I’ve been trying to inject into each project is something that will bring a smile to someone’s face, whether it be a friendly illustration style, a charming typeface or bright and bold colours - anything to portray the message with as much good energy as possible.
Having been deprived of proper face-to-face interaction the last 18 months, inspiration this summer simply comes from family, friends and strangers.
Whether it’s people watching at my local coffee shop or dancing amongst a thousand strangers at a music festival, the swirl of differing opinions and identities is a reminder of the wonderful diversity of the people we aim to resonate with. As we know, it’s never enough to just stand out or be different, real impact comes from ideas that understand people.
And aside from that, a heady mix of Handmaid's Tale and Love Island.
My inspiration this summer is coming from the NFT (non-fungible token) space.
I’m not necessarily talking about this from an investment angle - the market is certainly bullish but nobody should invest more than they can afford to lose. Instead, I’m taking inspiration from how the space has opened up creativity - how it allows everyone who dreams of selling their art to do it (if it’s good enough).
How brands are approaching NFTs is really interesting. Most are, in my opinion, far too cautious, mostly due to a lack of understanding of how to properly execute anything beyond minting a few pieces of artwork.
The importance of the community and its surrounding infrastructure (Discord in particular) cannot be underestimated. Brands must look to use the NFT space to take access for their most loyal customers to another level.
At Baked we’re actively educating, discussing and chewing the fat with our clients to explore how we can authentically execute powerful work using NFTs to directly impact brand and sales.
Summer is a time for fun and not just for hedonistic purposes. Play is essential for creativity and for our mental health.
Attending a festival recently I was struck with a strange but distantly familiar feeling: I was totally immersed. My brain was fired up by people watching; faces, fashions and dancing. I was wrapped up in my senses; the noise, (some of it music) the smells (much of it really quite bad) But it felt like nourishment.
Contrary to what tech companies tell us about connection, you can’t get those kinds of experiences through a screen. Our brains grew as social instruments and they light up when we are involved in multi-sensory environments and amongst each other.
If marketing is about creating value for customers, much of our jobs are about understanding what people value and how brands can build emotional connections around that.
So go out and see people. Go play. Our brains are designed for the social experience that we have been forced to do without. Put screens down, we cannot engage our senses and emotions fully through 2D rectangles; it’s time to get outside and amongst each other.
People watch and notice how we are each dealing with emerging back into the world. Try and understand what is different and what is the same as it ever was.
Ideas don’t exist anywhere in the world, they are only made and shared from mind to mind. To reach new ideas we need to get more connected to what other people think, feel and do.
Let’s get out of our own heads and find out what is in other peoples by getting out and having in the real world of experiences.
For us, inspiration can be found in the everyday. After a year of lockdowns and the same pixelated faces on Zoom, it’s great to be back in the studio, the cafés, bars and streets of Shoreditch.
For an agency that is obsessed with understanding and influencing consumer behaviour, people-watching is in our blood. Whether it’s the new coffee shop just opened around the corner, an overheard conversation at the bar, the latest local pop-up experience, a new piece from a street artist, or a striking unseen- before outfit on a local fashionista, it’s often what happens at the fringes of popular culture that signpost what may come next.
Now is not a time for scrolling the seemingly endless number of design blogs whilst sitting at your kitchen table. Now is the time to re-engage with the world, soak it up, be energised by what’s around you. Now is the time to stop Googling it and get out there!
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