The world has changed drastically since March 2020. We are already referring to these times as ‘Pre-COVID’ and ‘Post-COVID’ eras. From meetings in conference rooms to brainstorming on Zoom, a lot has changed in advertising too. We have seen a stark difference in the way we think and execute ideas. What was easily possible in the pre-era, is unthinkable in the post-era. In the past six months, we have all had clients say, “Can’t use this word now” or “Not possible to execute this now”. This ‘now’ is nothing but the new normal. Every idea we think of now, has to pass the ‘new normal’ test. This is a big challenge for creative folks, but limitations only push us to find newer ways of thinking and creating. Hence, here are a few pointers that might come in handy in order to pass the ‘new normal’ test.

#1 Content is King, but Context is King Kong
I had read this somewhere a while ago, but it makes more sense now than ever before. We are living in unprecedented times. India has seen 21 million job losses in the past six months. There are pay cuts and furloughs in most organisations. People are defaulting on their loans. Many are delayed on paying rents. Therefore, just like every other year, your ad can’t be shouting, “This festive season, enjoy our product!” This might irk your audience. It’s important to set the right context, and only then might they be more likely to listen to you. Separate your text from context and what remains is just ‘con’.

#2 Think inside the box
“The film opens on a sunny day in Prague…” Yes, we had the freedom to write that earlier. Or we could throw an idea like, “Let’s do a flash mob at CST station”. But this is highly unlikely now. Clients are asking for one-situation, one-setting films that are budget-friendly and easy to execute. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your imagination run wild – just keep it simple, keep it realistic. Work within constraints, and you’d have high chances of getting the idea approved. Then you can comfortably supervise that shoot on Zoom from your own living room. Also, be your own Spot Dada and whip up a Dalgona.

#3 Know thy TG
The TG section in creative briefs is generally filled with terms like SEC A-SEC B 18-35 Male or Urban Working Moms. We need to go beyond demographics and psychographics. We actually have no clue about what’s going on in their lives. Maybe someone in their family is battling COVID. Or someone is suffering from a mental illness, as depression cases are on the rise. Or, someone could be a victim of domestic violence, as those cases are increasing too. We must get to know their sentiment. Do a deep dive with your planning team and chances are you will arrive at an even more responsible way of communicating.

#4 Patience over passion
Creative folks use tricks like jokes, mimicry, acting and role-playing while presenting their work for better impact. But with presentations happening on Zoom now, there is a possibility that a poor internet connection would ruin your joke. Or the client’s kid might jump in and distract him, right when you are presenting the main campaign line. Ergo, have patience. Repeat that line if you need to, explain the concept again. Make sure you have conveyed the idea correctly. Go with passion, win with patience.

#5 Believe in your superpowers
Advertising has the power to positively influence people’s lives. Your one idea can spark a change. It’s not just about selling a product. It can alter behaviour, start a positive trend or have a big impact. We all have heard the recent Baba Ka Dhaba success story. Let’s keep working to bring more such positive stories to life. The world needs your creativity now, more than ever!

Finally, I say, this too shall pass. We will soon be back on sets again shooting outdoors. We will soon have office parties again. We will soon have conference room meetings again, while sipping on Sundar’s freshly-brewed coffee. Till then, just hang in there; we will overcome this.