Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Reasons to be Cheerful: A boost for digital-first creativity

As the coronavirus pandemic has quickly become the new normal, NDA wants to celebrate the positives of our current situation.

We talked to Wayne Deakin, Executive Creative Director at Huge London to find out what was keeping him smiling during lockdown

What positive impacts have you seen on how your business operates? 

Each sector is experiencing its own unique set of challenges in these very difficult times but one thing has become critical is the super acceleration of being digital first.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to witness businesses and consumers searching for the benefits of digital transformation but also digital-first creativity. I personally have experienced more openness and transparency by brands and organisations to solve problems together.

There’s a real desire by brands to be less siloed by structures or legacy thinking that have got in the way. As a creative director it’s only natural to stand-up for flat, open and interdisciplinary teams and I am seeing that approach reflected within client-side environments where more different parts of a business are working together.

What have you been most heartened about in how your staff, partners, customers or clients have reacted to the new normal? 

We have five core cultural values that drive our people at Huge that probably make us different than a lot of rivals. Two of these values are ‘Ideas over egos’ and ‘Give a shit’.

Listening to others and saving your energy for what really matters has never been more relevant and important. I hope we are seeing a new shift in how everyone works together to find common solutions and innovations without all the egos and hidden agendas.

Hopefully we all become a bit more human and a lot more in touch with the communities we work and live in. 

What technologies have you been most impressed with during this new situation and do you think coronavirus will hasten their uptake?

I am not being biased but Google is one of our largest clients and I’ve been very impressed and proud by just how robust and responsive they’ve been to help solve problems for all sorts of communities across the world.

From standing up rapid education platforms to the flexibility of all the collaboration tools, their ecosystem methodology has been fantastic to be connected with and work with.

Google and others which don’t think of their tech as just pure stand-alone technology but instead think in a broader systematic approach have been able to solve bigger problems faster and add more value for people. I think we will see more of this by tech firms and start-ups.

What positive impacts on long term consumer behaviour shifts will it have?

I am no Nostradamus but can see three significant shifts.

Firstly, consumer behaviour has been forced to immediately change, and change on a gigantic scale and that acceleration means data, ecommerce, and user-first thinking will only multiply after the pandemic. Consumers of all ages and stages are becoming more accustomed with technology and online commerce.

That behaviour change will be lasting.

Next, it’s been interesting to observe digital business products originally conceived for business become bigger than just business solutions. I think anyone who knows their stuff will start thinking about a bigger ‘D’ in design thinking for digital products to be extensive and inclusive, and not just pure-play services and tools for corporates.

Design for positive change has never been more crucial and the effect will last past the pandemic giving people additional ways to connect and communicate. 

Lastly, I think creativity, data and innovation will become more closely interconnected.

As traditional agency approaches and marketing channels fell apart it will place a greater emphasis on digital-first creativity in all its forms. You just need to look at the effects on WPP and Publicis’s traditional above-the-line creative shops to see that digital creativity wasn’t at the heart of what they do.

It was more a nice to have or a bolt on! I think clients and shareholders will want to see a reframing of more digital first mindset.

Advertising, craft and the big traditional channels haven’t gone away of course but we will witness more work that puts digital and data at its very centre and not somewhere at the back of the deck.