Autumn is here and as we slide into, and through, Q4, conversations turn to what we want to achieve before we close out 2022, and, more importantly, what we want to achieve next year.

There is also a sense of impending doom with economy seemingly swinging from bad to very bad to hang on what’s just happened.  Amongst all this uncertainty, inevitably how can we help brands with campaigns during these increasingly challenging times and ever-changing consumer expectations is a hot topic of conversations.

This is a question that we have been looking into as we are keen to understand the impact that this crisis will have on communications, and it looks set to be not the one that we would expect.   The last major crisis that we have lived through needs no introduction, and what that brought was a real shift towards more purposeful and, therefore, earnest communications, where frivolity and fun were frowned upon.  Our recent research showed, with the pandemic relegated off the news pages, people are looking for something different from brands.  69% say that their expectations of brands were completely different to those pre-pandemic, and two thirds saying their expectations had changed in the last six months.  Significantly consumers are asking brands to bring back the fun, with 41% stating this as the most important factor when choosing to engage with brands[1].

Changing expectations is becoming more frequent and with that, brands’ ability to be agile and respond is more crucial than ever, and as an agency we need to adapt our creative approaches accordingly.  The move from earnest to fun is a significant shift and presents its own unique challenge and we have to look at how we can capture these new found expectations and create campaigns that bring joy to consumers and encourage engagement.

Pre-pandemic the return of the roaring 20s was hotly anticipated, with many excited at a Millennial version of the infamous 1920s.  Whist the pandemic put paid to that for a time, we are now getting in full swing, with enjoyment and carefree abandon back at the top of the consumer agenda.  Whilst for many this may seem at odds with economic meltdown seemingly much closer than the horizon, this has not reduced the consumer appetite for this, for now.  Insights we conducted recently confirmed that people want respite from day to day difficulties and it’s these results that were key to us focusing on ideas that are purposefully uplifting and would not be viewed as tone deaf.  

Creativity is the core of any successful communications campaign, and as an agency we are taking the opportunity to use the final months of the year as a creative reset, looking at how we can channel this new consumer expectation into platforms and tactics that will engage audiences and drive action.

Our first port of call is brainstorms.  How do we use them effectively and how can we reinject fun techniques to tease out these ideas.  As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail and we are taking that approach, with these brainstorming tactics being put into practice for several existing client and new biz pitches.  Not only has this reset approach yielded some ideas that have had us all beaming from ear to ear, but it has been fun in the process.  Our new brainstorms have had rave reviews in the office, with people asking to join them and foregoing some of the day-to-day grind for an hour of escapism, where we think big, without concerns around budget and practicality.  Developing fun campaigns encourages a culture of fun.

This reinjection of creativity and how we view it has created a feeling of a desire for change, how can we challenge to create better, more creative, and ultimately more effective campaigns and the need to challenge clients and colleagues alike to achieve this.

The feeling of rejuvenation is needed in the industry, with the landscape becoming ever more competitive, fortune will, inevitably favour the bold, and bold and creative are natural bedfellows.  As an industry the fun, irreverent and iconic campaigns of the 90s are great sources of inspiration and a way to bring more campaigns that will have cult status for consumers of the future.  As a former history student I see the value in learning from the past to create a better future, to be clear I know this is idealistic and may not always play out, but creative industries are well placed for this.  Let’s look to see out the year channelling creativity to give consumers the light relief that they want and need, and maybe make campaign history in the meantime.

[1] Porter Novelli research 2022 conducted with OnePoll