The man who led the nation through its last major crisis once said this: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
After this tumultuous year, there may well be fewer passengers on board the good ship Optimism, but nonetheless, as an industry and as individuals, we can learn much from Winston Churchill’s quote.
The fact is that creativity might just save Christmas. In a year dominated by experts – primarily of the scientific and research variety – it’s time for those of us who work in creative industries to share our skills for the greater good.
Because Christmas 2020 is going to be very different and if we can’t be together in the traditional way, we’ll need to think of new and different ways to connect with family, friends and neighbours. And that is going to need creativity. Which is where we come in.
I know we’ve all tried – and failed – to explain what we do for a living to our parents. But whatever your official title might say, basically, our job is to come up with ideas and make them happen. Christmas is the perfect time to put this into practice – for both our clients and our communities.
Despite billions of pounds being spent on creative campaigns in the UK alone, arguably the two ideas that resonated most with us in 2020 didn’t cost a penny. Clap for Our Carers and Captain Tom’s Walk were simple, organic and heart-warming events that, for a while at least, brought the nation together.
We’ll need more of this over Christmas and the New Year so, whether we’re staying at home or visiting family and friends, maybe we can all try and do one thing that can help bring our community together.
I’m sure virtual street parties will be popular – outdoors for those who can and Zoom for those who can’t. Secret Santa must surely have an important role to play, particularly for family and friends you can’t see in person – at least you can show them their “hilarious” present over Zoom. The “Watchalong” concept has been successful in sport so why not Christmas movies? And the same with games. A family tradition of ours is a Christmas game of Dog Bingo (other animals are available!) so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes in a COVID-secure environment.
Presents can be different too – what can you make for a neighbour who may be stuck at home on their own? A wreath or other fun decorations perhaps, or a drawing/painting from one of the kids. Small things that could make a big difference, like a seasonal Spotify playlist you can share via WhatsApp. And of course, festive baking is always going to be well received.
If you’re looking for inspiration, H+K creative director Ruby Quince recently shared a great scorecard for ideas called S.U.C.C.E.S. This might inspire some thinking for your own Christmas campaigns.
Understandably, big brands have reflected the current situation and shown their caring side in the build-up to the festive period – the John Lewis/Waitrose Christmas ad highlights acts of kindness, Boots turn the spotlight on hygiene poverty and Burberry has partnered with footballer Marcus Rashford to fund a number of youth centres.
All of this is positive. But as Captain Tom and Clap for Our Carers have shown, the personal touch is what can really make a difference. It’s certainly not a situation any of us would have chosen, but Christmas 2020 offers all of us who work in creative industries a chance to make a difference. We really should take it.