Well that was quick, wasn’t it? A few months stuck at home, non-stop doomscast for a couple of weeks, then at some point the industry got used to it (or got bored enough) and started to cope, one way or another.
We’ve heard of both directors and agencies filming entirely from remote, and while OOH has predictably seen a drastic fall in spend and revenue, it is safe to assume things will go back to what they were as soon as we finally step outside our homes.
And we’re all quite eager to do so, aren’t we? Problem is, the future awaits. And it might not be as bright as we think.
Photo by BuzzFeed
People can’t wait to get back out there
There’s this interesting research by WPP agency Kinetic that shows people have had enough of staying home and they are definitely looking forward to their old lives. Restrictions on shops will be lifted as early as in 4 days (15th June) and retail is expected to bounce quickly. Impacts from the same OOH we’ve mentioned a few paragraphs earlier are up 39% in the last 4 weeks and these two sectors are unlikely to be the only ones that will see a speedy recovery post-lockdown.
According to Kinetic, most consumers are planning to spend money on fashion and beauty treats after lockdown and we can easily foresee overcrowded theatres and cinemas following the ease of all restrictions.
For those businesses who survived the lockdown (and we know a few struggled to) The creative industry may get back on its feet quite quickly. Brands and clients will be eager to spend and invest to recover on lost profits – but beware, as they may not be willing to take as many considerable risks as before. For a while, at least.
It’s enough to stick your nose out the window to see what’s already been happening. If you live in a neighbourhood like mine, people couldn’t care less about the so-called “lockdown” and a lot kept going out as if nothing happened. Can you imagine what will happen once lockdown restrictions are completely eased?
Photo by The Joneses
Future of Work and a new Creative Industry
I’m no economist, but I’ve heard enough people saying this is the worst financial crash since Wall Street that I've actually started to believe it. With less people going out and events moving in the online space, pubs have closed, retailers have shut down, and filmmakers may have to find alternative ways of – well – making their films for quite a while.
Some say all financial disasters forecast a time of prosperity, and you can argue the creative industry has been in need of a shake for a while – but it won’t be easy. The event industry is already struggling and both freelancers and small businesses have experienced less clients than ever, with a particular strain on the production sector – at least until it was able to reinvent itself with remote filming.
Going back to normal isn't going to be as easy as stepping out of your house
Going back to the office isn’t looking as radiant as expected, either. Some of us (present) got used to remote working and will find it quite difficult to go back to the old rhythms, and those who have no other choice might find a different environment from the one they left. Thermal cameras, plexiglass cages – we’ve heard of stuff that sounds like it was pulled out straight from a sci-fi novel.
Life post-COVID is probably going to be hell. But the sun always shines after a storm, doesn’t it?
Photo by Hybrid H
The "New Normal"
When I heard of how badly some sectors were faring, I knew the term “a new normal” would start coming out quite soon. We can’t help it – we humans, we creatives, are hopeful at our core. Once beaten, we can always stand up – and in fact, we might do it with even more pride than before.
Such is the case of the production industry, which saw several studios closing down and others readapting to film from remote, with the director giving stage instructions from remote. We are lucky that the technology is in place, of course – can you imagine doing that on a 56k connection?
We creatives, we humans, are hopeful at our core
Teams have learned to bond from remote. Leaders have learned that they don’t need to constantly look after their employees to make them productive, and even retailers have finally learned to play their part in the adapt or die game.
Yes, life post-COVID isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be a confused mess for a while, brands fighting to win back their segments of audience, a competition fiercer than ever on the job market and even more people in the streets.
But I want to remain hopeful. The COVID-19 lockdown proved us our own resilience and drive. Maybe we will learn something from this COVID-19 mess, after all.