Back in the bad old days, when a crisis erupted, creativity would be elbowed aside in the rush to batten down the hatches. The thinking was that now wasn’t the time for ideas and, if we say as little as possible, we’ll get through this.
But how that picture has changed. We now understand that creatives have a key role to play in times of crisis. Creatives solve problems. And as we help our clients navigate these uncertain, choppy waters with clear and relevant communication, creativity is already coming into its own.
Here are our highlights of how creativity is being used to great effect during this pandemic:
1. The advertising gurus at BBH have issued a brilliantly clear-eyed take on marketing in a pandemic.
2. In this time of trial, the festival of creativity that is the Cannes Lions has opened up some of its ordinarily paywalled content and ideas to all. A wonderful first step, which showed a real understanding that creativity is built through collaboration and a conversation with ideas that have gone before. As the creative great Sir John Hegarty put it: “The originality of your ideas depends entirely on the obscurity of your sources.” In other words, talent borrows, genius steals.
3. It’s one reason why the great technological minds at Mercedes F1 have hacked a CPAP machine usually used for sleep apnoea to create a workable breathing aid for Covid-19 patients.
4. And why a consortium of Britain’s greatest engineering innovators is working to scale existing technology, rather than create from scratch.
This is all very well you may ask, but I’m not an engineer. I can’t create a vaccine or a ventilator. I just do comms.
But brilliant comms is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal during a crisis and can be part of the solution. The United Nations has put out a global call to all creatives: Help stop the spread of COVID19.
Whether you work with words, design, digital or anything in between, getting the right messages out will save lives.
It comes as no surprise, from a creative or medical viewpoint, that those messages are ones we should know well: Better personal hygiene, practising physical distancing, knowing the symptoms, showing kindness, challenging myths and encouraging donations to good causes.
But many people still aren’t listening to them. So, our job as creatives is to make those messages bigger, bolder and more impactful. To help more people hear those messages and act on them.
Here at The Difference Collective, we will be collating our own response, working to maximise how we share our Collective ideas and get involved. As the new Nightingale Hospital London in the capital’s Excel exhibition centre takes shape, the NHS needs internal comms professionals to come forward. If you can set up effective staff engagement in just a few days, your country needs you.
And at a corporate level, the Government is also asking for support. The Difference Collective has signed up to do what we can to help with communications. Hopefully you can too. In these times, it’s important to work with every idea. If you’d like to hear more about our ideas for comms creativity in a crisis then do get in touch.
About the author
Stuart Mayell, Head of the Creative Difference, is a highly adaptable facilitator of ideation, strategy, messaging and crisis workshops. With 22 years of undimmed curiosity about health and science, he is an advocate for evidence-based creativity to tackle society’s greatest health challenges, and help businesses succeed.
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