Has the Pandemic washed our hands of creativity? 

During a time when brands have an opportunity to stand apart, it appears our lack of creativity as an industry has brought them closer together. 

Across the globe, we have seen the big brands and big agencies produce a swath of COVID-19 response advertising. While I commend those involved in reacting so quickly, our short-termism and narrowness of focus have washed so many brands of creativity and distinctiveness during COVID-19. 

If we continue to focus on message over substance, and short-term opportunism over a true expression of purpose, we will continue to witness this lemminglike brand behaviour. We've seen similar themes like this over the past couple of decades as brands attempt to define their purpose, but only scratch the surface on what they stand for. This lack of purpose and creativity has brought on such advertising trends as Greenwashing, Rainbow-washing, Sadvertising, and now COVID-washing. 

To stand apart and be effective, brands and agencies must work closely together to create differentiation and place brand action above the message. Brands and the companies behind them need to stand for something, with a powerful Brand Stance and follow through on their purpose. Creativity does not lie in changing your message from 'buy this car' to 'we're in this together, buy this car.' Instead, creativity lies in the ability to create action, define a unique purpose, and adapt to new circumstances. Brands like Mustang Survival and Dyson have all been creative in their response to COVID-19 while placing action before the message and being true to their brand's purpose. 

While advertising can reflect culture, effective advertising has the power to shape it. Brands, especially those who can afford to advertise at this time, need to demonstrate their creativity and cultural leadership by prioritizing action and connecting with consumers intellect over selling more product. 

Now is not the time to be an invisible brand. But, being one in a sea of same is equally detrimental to your brand and infinitely more wasteful to your company. There will be no short-term fix for the economic paralysis we will experience. We must remember, advertising works over the long term. The work your brand produces and shares today will form opinions in the minds of people for the next decade. 

If you're lucky enough to be working on a campaign right now, ask yourself how your brand wants to be remembered? And if you're brand wants to be remembered at all? 

Because "now, more than ever," we need creativity to unlock our potential and build a positive brand reputation. 

Published by Mike Leslie
A creative problem solver with a penchant for strategy and analytics, Mike is the President, Partner at Full Punch. Always calling Vancouver home, he has spent the majority of his career working throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and all across Canada managing small and large agencies, local and national brands. His experience brings unique insights to the entire marketing process.

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