COVID-19: The rebirth of creativity – the time is now


Cheryl Reddy | Managing Director | Johannesburg | Eclipse Communications | mail me

The world has changed. While some aspects of life will return to its former state before COVID-19, much will not be the same again.

Brands and agencies alike need to think differently and design communications strategies that now factor in the use of digital, purpose-led campaigns, and in-home consumption vs out-of-home consumption, in essence the rebirth of creativity in a post-pandemic world.

The Collins Dictionary defines creativity as: ‘The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the likes, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.’

Communication has entered the fourth industrial revolution

We have made note on how the pandemic created a captive online audience and considered how the traditional media landscape changed irrevocably.

The biggest winners in the media bloodbath have been digital media, fundamental to building or repairing share of voice in a post-pandemic world.

Kantar’s Mastering Momentum Report has found a strong correlation between share of voice today and changed market share tomorrow, meaning that its pursuit remains vital to business prospects.

The COVID-19 wrecking ball has slammed any resistance to digital transformation into the last century. During the lockdown, physical boardrooms were replaced with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Skype.

While businesses will slowly return to some semblance of normality, person-to-person encounters, such as events and launches, will largely be replaced by digital experiences in the near term, while virtual events – be these business meetings, interviews, launches or media round tables – will no doubt continue to play a much larger role in the future.

However, while everyone rushes to ‘go digital’ – there are some important questions that both brands and agencies need to ask:

  • Do you have a plan or are you going digital for digital’s sake?
  • Does the platform or technology you use support your objectives?
  • Does the platform support or hurt your message?
  • Are you reaching the correct audience?
  • Is your virtual event simply a substitute for a physical event that was cancelled or is it an organic experience that resonates with and has an impact on an engaged digital audience?

Are you ready to pivot?

In the US, Burger King was faced with a problem as they had spent a large portion of their advertising budget on big outdoor billboards, yet consumers were home under lockdown, conducting their business affairs online.

During the pandemic, people started becoming creative with their Zoom video conferencing backgrounds, imagining they were in exciting places, far removed from their homes. Soon, travel companies were promoting backgrounds of their destinations as Zoom backgrounds.

Burger King’s answer was to create a campaign where people used their billboards as video conferencing backgrounds.

Then, on social media – where we know consumers are even more active than before – the brand posted: ‘Everyone’s staying inside, and our billboards are going to waste with no one out there to see them. So, we made backgrounds. use these on a video call, post a screenshot with @BurgerKing and #HomeOfTheBillboards & we’ll DM you a BOGO Whopper coupon for being our new #ad.

Despite being presented as a social media ad, the move generated widespread publicity and became a talking point around how to pivot outdoor ad spend for digital benefit.

Recipe for success?

IKEA designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture with step-by-step instructions on how to build its products.

Synonymous with step-by-step, flat-pack instructions on how to build its products. IKEA joined the trend of cooking from home, sharing recipe guides for making its ‘famous’ Swedish-style meatballs with a set of instructions closely mirroring that of its furniture.

The move took a popular and well-known IKEA trope – the flat-pack instructions – and applied it to a popular trend. According to PR Week, by May 4, the move received 170 pieces of coverage in a range of markets, giving its share of voice a major boost.

Creatively cut through the clutter

Looking at the Collins definition, the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships.

To solve the problem of growing your share of voice in a changed world, think creatively about:

  • Your content: Are your topics relevant or do they need some spice?
  • Your media relationships: Are you connecting with the media of impact that is currently relevant?
  • Social media: Are you doing what you were doing pre-pandemic? If so, why?
  • Your events: How are your digital events supporting your objectives?
  • Your tone: Are you really in tune with the zeitgeist?

While everyone seems to be trying everything. In order to get noticed, brands and agencies need to ensure their communication that cuts through the clutter and makes a real, authentic contribution.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here