As we approach a very different kind of holiday in 2020 I find that many of us are pining for the clock to register 12:01 on January 1st so we can put this year and all its shortcomings behind us. Those of us that would agree with that statement aren’t wrong to wish time away, but if you’re part of a creative-based industry like I am – today is actually a moment worth celebrating.
You see, at this moment in time, so much in our world is changing at a pace we’ve never seen before. I don’t mean for the better or the worse, I just mean it’s evolving. In previous economic downturns of significance and relative uncertainty, there wasn’t a deep-rooted sense of fear for what the future would hold. There was certainly plenty of anxiety and worry but fear was a steeper grade that I’m not sure was shared by a majority. COVID is very different. It has brought pain, anguish, loss and yes, an unhealthy level of fear to our global society in a manner that very much defies explanation. I believe, it’s also brought hope.
Back in March as the world shuddered doors and we all retreated back to our living rooms and home offices, that fear for our collective future was palpable and sincere. For the first time in my 20+ years of agency life it was time to ideate solutions that had no supporting data, that would surely have limited appeal only months earlier and that were truly non-traditional in form and function. Those days were challenging because if you’re a creative client service provider, for as long as you can remember your output commenced with a solid, foundational strategy and that strategy was likely supported by factual data or inference of the same kind. That crutch or justification no longer existed.
It was at this precise moment that I realized this period of uncertainty and fear could have a positive outcome. As we developed conceptual ideas, they were so fresh, so unquestionably appealing that it was hard to ignore their appeal. There was more emphasis (whether the client asked for it or not) on empathy, human emotions, courtesy and care. The process of developing solutions was truncated and disjointed, but it allowed for personal thought on walks, hikes or even sitting in the backyard to help find the necessary inspiration. This was, and remains a period in time where calculated risk is being applied by brands more than ever before. As a marketer, how could you not love that?
I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I’m in no way celebrating this pandemic, on any level whatsoever. My mother and father, two people who’ve had much to do with my professional success and as a father, haven’t had a hug from their son in almost a year. My children, like many others are undeniably suffering from a lack of social interaction with friends and in-school learning. Families who have been impacted by the pandemic and lost loved ones are reeling from the shock and pain it’s inflicted. Without question, this is not a situation I or anyone else would wish upon our worst of enemies. However, as a glass-half-full person, I can’t help but think in the long run, our world can and will change for the better. The only choice for all of us, clients and agencies alike, is whether we truly want to be a part of the solution.
In principle that’s why Øuterkind exists – to apply human insights and challenge conventional thought about how experience between brands and people will be shaped into the future. How communities of like-minded people can alter perception for the better and impact meaningful change. How loyalty and relationships between brands and people are going to evolve or those brands will suffer the consequences or die. We exist for all these reasons as well as to create an environment that focuses equally on our clients as much as the people that join us, and believe me I don’t make that statement lightly. Our product is and will always be people, so it’s time to reshape what that landscape looks like to agencies of all sizes and dimensions along with the client partners they support.
As Marshall Goldsmith said in his book of the same name “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” Truth. The first step to any change is wanting to change – and for me, that’s a powerful reminder of the challenge ahead. The businesses that will see future success will be the ones that are brave enough to change their habits, change their tactics and change their mindsets. And that’s why we’re here – to help them do just that.
Welcome to Øuterkind.