The pandemic has forced the hand of businesses across the world, perhaps most significantly because working away from the office has become normal.
For advertising, this has had a significant impact. Clearly, adland’s raison d’etre is creativity, a process historically hinged on the physical proximity, interaction and idea generation of its people. When that ability to work in close-knit teams disappears, what happens to creative output? And can Pinterest help?
Jules Chalkley, executive creative director of Ogilvy UK, Nadja Lossgott, executive creative director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Laura Jordan Bambach, chief creative officer at Grey London, share how they have found opportunity in the face of adversity.
1. Keep it personal
Fostering an environment of togetherness while being physically distant has been the biggest challenge for creative bosses. For Ogilvy’s Chalkley this has meant having “big creative department meetings [remotely] so that we feel we’re all still together”.
Cross-team communications are vital to creative departments. But so too are personal relationships. As Chalkey explains, “making sure we’re talking to everyone, picking up the phone when people are stressed” is key.
“What’s really interesting is that one-to-ones via video calls are fine, but it’s much more personal on a phone bizarrely, voice-to-voice thing. If you want to understand how someone’s feeling, give them a call.”
2. Use the right tools for the job
Enforced remote working may be far from the ideal, but thankfully in today’s digitally-enabled world there are a plethora of tools available for creatives to adopt.
Jordan Bambach has embraced numerous platforms. “At Grey, we tend to use a load of different video messaging packages depending on client needs,” she says. “It’s amazing how quickly almost everything has moved to these digital meeting forums, even messaging. Email has gone down and I only check it a few times a day now – if it’s urgent it will be on a call.”
AMV’s Lossgott, and her creative partner Nick Hulley and their teams use an array of comms channels.
“The teams do everything they can: share their screen, hold up pieces of paper to camera, email and share docs and presentations,” she says, “And how we review and they present changes from team to team too and that fluidity is important. Whatever’s comfortable. A couple of lines to articulate the idea to decks full of stimulation, in whatever way, however.”
Chalkley is an advocate for Pinterest, which he describes as great for sharing “creative noodling” and for finding creative inspiration.
“People such as Mark Denton have unbelievable Pinterest content and lots of creatives have great Pinterest boards,” he says. “They’re great sources of inspiration. We were sharing some stuff creatively on Pinterest last week, design influences for some work.”
Lossgott also “loves some visual reference”.
“We want to see the full vision a team has for the idea,” she says. “And we love the references to be as fresh and interesting as possible. That means sourcing them from interesting places.”
“The internet is a rabbit hole. Something new, something intriguing is often the next click away. Like all teams we have our go to sites like Pinterest. We like having a visual encyclopaedia of wide inspiration to then streamline thinking the closer you get to the production stage.”
Pinterest’s Group Boards enable users to collaborate with their teams and clients on projects with reactions to show feedback, the ability to sort Pins to prioritize favourite ideas, and a new way to communicate with members right on the board. And, it’s not just businesses — everyone from parents’ meal-planning, roommates choosing new art for their living room, and friends planning a holiday who can use Group Boards to save, plan and get inspired.
3. Find visual inspiration
Jordan Bambach uses Pinterest for work and pleasure. “I’m always dipping into my boards of illustrators, photographers, stylists, animators, directors – all creatives that I admire and would love to work with one day,” she says.
“And of course, I follow a load of other creative directors too for inspiration. I have a load of personal boards – haircuts and crazy colours, tattoos, things I’d wear if I were a guy and could get into men’s clothes; anything that inspires me, it’s quite eclectic!”
“My favourite board is with my old partner in crime, Flo Heiss. We use it to collect the weirdest things we find on the internet. There’s some great art in there, and a lot of hand knitted ski masks… Some very peculiar music videos. Nothing is off limits. We set it up when we worked together about eight years ago, and still add to it every now and then. When I need some time out, I’ll go and browse it again, it always makes me smile.”
4. Break free from your bubble
Chalkey has found that remote working has enabled him to realize how important it is to seek inspiration from what’s going on in the broader world.
“You’ve really got to plug into what’s happening in the real world,” he says. “One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m much more aware of what’s going on around me.
“Everyone’s antennas went up at the beginning of lockdown, you’re more alert of what’s going on and that’s fed across into everything. For some reason I’m seeing more stuff creatively and culturally, and, strangely, less about what the industry is doing and more about what’s happening in the real world.
“You have to come out of that bubble and be aware of what is going on in the real world. Consequently, a lot of our work has become more culturally astute.”
Creatives need ideas today. Tap into Pinterest’s Today tab for a source of daily inspiration with curated topics and trending Pins that makes it easy to explore popular and timely ideas. Follow creators who frequently share content from their niche specialism in relation to the cultural zeitgeist and get inspired.
5. Ditch old mindsets
One of the more overriding realisations for Chalkley is that “creativity can happen anywhere”. It’s an insight that will inform the way the agency works in the future.
“You’ve got to let people work where they’re most creative,” he says. “Whether that’s creating an incredible office space or a bedroom, it doesn’t matter.” Drop the old mindset, he insists.
“It’s a generalist thing to say, but we’ve seen a lot of our creatives become happier. We’ve been in offices and we’ve been in open plans and had this not happened, how long would this have taken to change? I think now it has changed, we’ve got to do what’s right for the creative mind.”
6. Find your capacity to adapt
Jordan Bambach has found that remote working during lockdown has taught her that creativity can be “challenged to its limits, and in doing so work of innovative and exceptional standards can be made”.
“At Grey we have won pitches during lockdown, made interesting and original work and strengthened client relationships. In fact meeting clients for the first time in their kitchens has been really enjoyable. And we’ve really taken to borderless working, because none of us are together anyway.”
“So we’re sharing work across the globe and still turning out successful campaigns. It’s really driven home to everyone the power that diverse creativity has too, because we’re tapping into great ideas from all over the world and the results are super positive.”
For Lossgott too, remote working has necessitated a new mindset. “Perhaps it’s less of a surprise and more of a confirmation, but people’s capacity to adapt is awesome,” she says. “Armed with resilience and curiosity, we can face most challenges.
“We should harness that jolt to complacency and stay that way forever. That and finding ways to stay away from a rush hour commute would be good to keep.”
Related insights from Pinterest
91% of Pinners say that Pinterest is filled with positivity . So if you’re in need of a stress release during the pandemic, that might be a good starting point.
97% of Pinterest’s top searches are unbranded  – people know they want something, but they aren’t exactly sure what it looks like or where to buy from. They haven’t decided yet – unlike on search engines, they don’t know exactly what they’re after. They come with an idea.
In a survey of more than 2,000 Pinners about their attitudes around Pinterest, 83% say that the platform helps them build their confidence, compared with 49% of people saying that about social-media platforms .
Pinterest has discovered that Pinners are not interested in keeping up with others, or comparing their lives. They are looking to be inspired for their personal lives and take action.
1. Talk Shoppe, US, Emotions, Attitudes, and Usage Study, Dec 2018
2. Pinterest internal data, English Searches, April 2020
3. Talk Shoppe, US, Emotions, Attitudes & Usage study, Oct 2018