Sung Chang
May 19, 2020

COVID-19 is igniting the next big creative movement

Here are three early indicators of what to expect from a new Creativity Movement post-COVID.

COVID-19 is igniting the next big creative movement

When we talk about creativity in our business, there’s an expectation we’re talking about the discipline of Creativity (capitalized) versus the inherent nature of creativity – especially during these times, where most of us have become creative in parenting, meal planning, and our daily routines.

We have witnessed during this pandemic people becoming more creatively expressive – sewing masks and launching storefronts on Etsy; learning to cook old favorites or attempting their first sourdough; and editing Tik Toks, Twitch streams, or enabling Party Mode for others’ entertainment. Historically, we can track significant agitations in history by Art Movements. The Renaissance was born from increased interactions between different cultures. Cubism was inspired by the Russian Revolution. And Modernism, by the growth of cities and the atrocities of WWI. So, what can we expect from a new Creativity Movement post-COVID? Let’s look at three early indicators.

1. Art will reflect socially distant life

Museums and galleries are closed. What served as cultural inspiration and learning is no longer accessible. Even for people who have no interest in art, museums are among the top TripAdvisor city activities because art is a reflection of society as it brings people together to inspire and soothe. But these closures have brought about a new trend – digitally accessible art.

The Getty Museum Challenge, motivating people to recreate art using three objects lying around their homes, has seen overwhelming reinterpretations of art and sparked a curiosity for the originals. History has taught us that more art is produced during times of adversity – and that new trends and techniques will emerge. As marketers, these will serve as the catalyst for new kinds of campaigns, and more creative ways to engage people. Brands and creatives will have the opportunity to help define a new creative movement.


2. The mask as fashion

Apparel sales are down roughly 60 percent as people are staying at home. However, there will still be a Vogue September issue. There will still be fashion trends. And as companies shifted into PPE manufacturing, fashion houses were one of the first industries to adapt. But outside of helping one another, there’s another reason for this – face masks will be the new normal in a post-COVID world in the West, much like Asian cultures that transitioned masks from allergy prevention in the early aughts to socially acceptable accessories for city life. And it was only a matter of time when we saw $200 designer masks in addition to N95 masks.

Whether this is a new apparel category, safety product, status symbol, or athletic performance wear, this category is here to stay. Masks will become a form of creative expression much the same way we saw the growth of the phone accessories market. And as communications experts, we will need to adapt in how we cast and portray people in photoshoots and establish the rules of masks as a new form of branding, OOH and self-expression.

3. Food culture gets comfortable

We all know foodies used to dominate Instagram as the third most popular interest behind travel and music, establishing new restaurants and food trends. But as we cook at home more, we’re seeking out comfort (sourdough, kimchi) over new or trendy (Dalgona coffee, you say, have you made it more than once?). Plus, there’s been a growth of processed, shelf-stable foods over organic greens and whole grains. So, what will Instagram food culture look like after the pandemic subsides and what will be the new food trends? Will we continue to see fallout-shelter cuisine, or will we go back to healthy?

For food and beverage marketers, how we marry comfort and familiarity with nutrition and health will be a creative challenge as the way we project our daily feeding rituals are upended.

Driving the next art movement: The opportunity for brands

Trends and inspirations will still exist. But who inspires and follows these will be key. Five years ago, we saw the arrival of the Makers movement, a choice many people made. But this second generation wave is based out of necessity and prioritization.

Art movements are created from large societal shifts and behavioral and value changes. And we’re witnessing the birth of the next movement. The question is, will your brand be part of the creation of it – and help drive it forward -- or merely a reflection of it?

As the economy gradually returns, the attitudes and habits that people have adopted will not. Brands will emerge among a population of people who use and see them differently. How do you think about your products and brands in a world where, overnight, people spend their time differently? And how do you as a marketer present yourselves back to this more enlightened audience?

Sung Chang is the chief impact officer of Weber Shandwick.

Campaign US

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