Thought Leaders in association withPartners in Crime

Creativity in a Coronavirus World

Isleworth, UK
INFLUENCER: Sky Creative Agency's Nigel Edginton-Amor reflects on how creativity might change as a result of the pandemic

The coronavirus is changing the way we live and work. But how is it changing our approach to creativity? 

And what will it all mean to us as advertising professionals when we’re finally released back into the advertising wild from our forced captivity? 

Being in indefinite lock down has forced all of us to be more creative, particularly parents stuck indoors with boisterous children and those imprisoned with easily bored teenagers.

In fact, we’ve seen a daily deluge of great ideas, examples of incredibly smart thinking and demonstrations of exceptional ingenuity.

(That plus a huge outpouring of human kindness.)

Every one of these ideas brings to life the holy grail of advertising, originality. Not only that, but they all pass our ultimate measure of brilliance: the “I wish I’d done that” factor.

What’s fascinating about this, is that it’s taught us an important lesson: being creative isn’t the exclusive preserve of the experienced ad man. 

In fact, the separation of the McDonald's golden arches to highlight social distancing proved how shallow and self-referential our business can be: an agency came up with the concept and a client signed it off.

I bet both had one eye on a Cannes Lion. 

Still, what goes around comes around and the ad (and brand) faced a fierce deserved backlash. 

Truth is, the world we inhabit now has changed the game forever. And when one woman can galvanise an entire country into applauding the NHS and carers every Thursday, anything’s possible. 

Better still, we’ve seen countless, well-publicised examples of resourcefulness and genius level problem solving, particularly from women with kids. That’s probably not a great surprise to women with kids (or their partners). But based on this show of strength, there’s clearly a gap in the market for a worldwide network of agencies staffed exclusively by mums.

How good would that be? 

With everyone WFH, it’ll be fascinating to see how our physical isolation will impact our creative work.

When Sir John Hegarty sees creatives wearing headphones, it makes him "really pissed off".

His view is that headphones "put a little wall" around the wearer, cutting them off from the world around them.

He also says: “You are eliminating the possibility you are going to pick up stories, ideas, thoughts that are happening all around you. As a creative person, that's all wrong".

The same is perhaps true now we’re all stuck indoors, and our main sources of influence are largely the TV and internet.

You could argue that with such a wealth of new ideas coming from people adapting to this challenging situation, inspiration is coming at us in entirely different ways. 

And we do have, Teams, Skype, Yammer, Zoom and FaceTime there to help us collaborate.

But will we return to our offices reinvigorated, with an alternative, more lateral, open-minded and innovative approach to advertising? And will we see the world and view or work through fresh eyes? 

Or will we come back an army of people used to living in a digital cocoon, unable to function without a computer screen and headphones?

At SCA, it’s sure to be the former.

How cool is that?

Nigel Edginton-Amor is creative director at Sky Creative Agency