Lockdown has taught us that creatives are resilient, resourceful, and relish the opportunity to be challenged...and succeed.
Lockdown challenged creative teams to think outside the box and exercise a lot of imagination in order to be able to not just continue functioning, but producing outstanding content too. So whilst lockdown was undoubtedly an awful time overall, in the lens of creative production, there were definitely some wins that we should learn from as the world looks forward to a new normal.
Let’s break down some of the key learnings, wins, and trends that have emerged from the past year and analyze what we should take note of, what we should keep, and what looks like it’s here to stay.
What we learned and should continue to do: be imaginative in more ways than one. From an editorial perspective, the pandemic meant that a lot of brands needed to change their messaging, branding and advertising to better fit the current epoque. This meant approaching their product from a new stance and redefining what the values and principles their organization stood for. Moreso, it meant aligning their brand voice with the reality of the consumers they were serving and in many cases pivoting completely to find a place for their brand in a new and still developing world; such as Gymshark championing at-home fitness and comfort, Emily Crisps making light of purchasing out-of-home advertising space before the pandemic hit, and Uber encouraging customers not to use their services so those in need could.
For many companies, this was an existential re-evaluation of who they were. And for creatives, it involved a tidal wave of work; dropping current projects mid-way through production, working with completely new brand guidelines and working around the clock to produce culturally responsive assets at speed and scale.
This taught the creative industry the importance of both creativity and flexibility in terms of the work they were producing. It also emphasized something that we all already knew - the importance of an e-commerce-first focus. Those who already had a framework in place, or structures in the pipeline evolved easily into electronic trading of goods. Those without the capacity to make the change struggled, and in some cases, sunk. The impending death of the high street was already being felt long before the pandemic hit last March, and the past year did much to put the final nail in the coffin. Moving forwards, brands will need to continue to prioritize their e-commerce capabilities and continue to ensure their user experience is as streamlined as possible.
The resilience required for brands and creative teams to continue to operate was also dependent on the new photo studio landscape - better known as the sitting room, bedroom or back garden in most cases! Pivoting to shot-at-home content with digital directors and stakeholders looped in via zoom was the only solution to the lockdown challenge. As a society, we embraced the relatability of less polished and more ‘real’ content. For photographers, producers, editors and operations managers alike this meant throwing in the rule book and reinventing the way they worked and how much control they had over the production process.
Aside from a newfound appreciation for the wonders of zoom, the new reality of photo studios illuminated the fact that a shoot can take place even if the model, director, makeup artist and key decision-maker are all in different countries. Moreso, I believe it has and will continue to bolster support for more authentic content and the movement away from hyper-edited, unrealistic beauty standards.
So once the world begins to resume a level of normality, what trends from lockdown photo shoots will we continue to see? An appreciation for authenticity in advertising for sure. Already possessing a strong footing, and reinforced in the explosion of TikTok at the expense of Instagram (TikTok being the embodiment of unpolished user-generated content, and Instagram more increasingly the latter), this is something that creative teams will continue to see being valued in their briefs. In terms of operations, a more relaxed approach to remote working, editing and shooting. Investing in good creative resource planning systems, and ensuring their successful adoption, means that the horizons for what is possible are greatly broadened; people can work remotely, people on opposite ends of the earth can collaborate on a shoot, and strong communication can be ensured throughout.
More so than anything else, lockdown has taught us that creatives are resilient, resourceful, and relish the opportunity to be challenged and succeed. As we begin to navigate a new normal in the upcoming months, I am certain the caliber of the content being produced will only elevate more as a result of lessons learned and new ways of work adopted.
What were your lockdown learnings you think will be here to stay? Get in touch with me at
Nick@atellio.com and let’s chat!