Do you remember the big productions in Los Angeles, when the agency stayed at Shutters? Do you remember the big productions?
Do you remember those three-hour flights each way, to attend a 90-minute new business meeting? Do you remember when you had to wear pants for a meeting with a CMO?
It’s been so long and so many things have happened since then, that it feels like those things happened ten years ago. But it’s only been five months, really. It feels like we’re living in dog years, you know, seven for each human one. During this time, we have had to adapt to the situation with whatever we have at hand to move forward. So much so, that right now it sounds so remote, so impossible and so unthinkable, that I’m not sure we should go back to those things, even if we had the chance to do so.
The business of advertising was already changing dramatically way before the pandemic, when it was becoming faster, more efficient, more data-driven than ever. Tactics and new flavor-of-the-month technologies started to replace ideas. Promotions were everything. Emotional connection meant nothing.
This pandemic has forced brands to reestablish a meaningful relationship with people (please let’s stop calling people “consumers”). Now that people can’t see each other in person due to social distancing, brands could and should help alleviate that tension. And that is a very good thing.
That’s why I truly believe that going back to the way things were before should be so remote, so impossible and so unthinkable.
As a matter of fact, brands are not the only ones that need to reach out and establish a closer emotional connection. During some calls, internal and with clients, I’ve noticed there’s more humanity, warmth and empathy among the participants. Even if we’re on Teams, in front of a laptop. Maybe this is due to the fact that we get a peek into other people’s homes: we can see how a cat jumps on the table, or we get to witness a sweet 8-year-old-girl giving a kiss to her dad, who happens to be the Director of Digital Strategy from the agency. I hope we don’t forget about this feeling when we finally get out of this situation.
This may not have happened to you, but at a personal level I have reconnected with family and friends that I haven’t seen or talked to in a very long time, thanks to Zoom and Messenger Rooms. Come to think of it, this technology for video calls has been around for a while, maybe I just forgot about it. Did we have to go through a global calamity to remind us to go back to our roots, to be more human? As they say, every moment could be a teachable moment. And look at the lesson we have been given.
When we go back to our agency, when we finally hug someone to celebrate our success, when we go back to creating big ideas, let’s not go back to the way it used to be. I hope we remember all the good we have learned during these past months and forget everything that distract us from what matters: the idea as the center of everything, the starting point and final destination. The emotional connection as a result of that idea, and how much fun the business of advertising can be, if we just don’t forget.
What I’m going to miss the most from these times is not having to wear pants to that meeting with the CMO.