According to M&C Saatchi Abel Group Managing Director Jason Harrison, as the economy stutters back to life, and brands try to position themselves for a post-pandemic world, creative agencies have been thrust into the role of frontline workers within this new economic landscape.

The world has changed, and agencies need to step up to the challenge. The new economy requires new thinking, said Harrison, and like all frontline workers, brands need creative agencies that are fast, agile and authentic in order to resonate with an increasingly discerning audience.

Neo Mashigo, Group Chief Creative Officer, said that creativity is about solving problems. ‘Brands are at a crossroads. Either they can do the same things they did before and expect the same results, but in a changed world, or they can use creativity as a force for revival and rejuvenation. Difficulties and challenges provide fertile ground for creative solutions that give you goosebumps. 

‘You may have an idea of where you want to be, but it is only by harnessing the power of creativity that you will figure out how to get there – and that is why creativity is at the frontline of our new economy.’ 

Harrison agreed, stating that at the start of the hard lockdown no one knew what would happen, or what the face of advertising would be within a few months. ‘There was trepidation all around – one could feel it in the air as the nation sat in silence on an evening in March listening to our president announce something unprecedented in a modern society. However, far from drawing any comparison to the men and women who continue to heroically battle Covid-19, we decided as an agency to draw our strength from what it takes to be a frontline worker: a belief in your science, a belief in your systems and most importantly, a belief in the team you have assembled.’

According to Harrison, playing in the sweet spot between cultural relevance, while producing effective campaigns in a new and increasingly digital world, is no longer a nice-to-have skill. He said that it is absolutely essential to the survival of an agency, and the efficacy of its work. ‘We have to respond to and create, demand. Our economy depends on it.’

Mashigo added, ‘You cannot tell society what is authentic. Always, but especially during times of adversity, you have to listen, learn, trust your team and nurture your client relationship in order to produce remarkable work. You must be willing to use data and instinct to guide you to a new space.’ It sounds risky, but Mashigo added, ‘that is the only way we move forward. That is how you create something special.’