Creativity Through Uncertainty

Our MD Zara Flynn was asked by the Business Post what she thought the big trends for 2017 would be. Here’s what she said…

2017 doesn’t need a set of new trends

As Neil Armstrong put it, “we expect too much change in a year”. Current trends will continue to develop throughout 2017 but the likes of human experiences, optimisation and user centric marketing are no longer new news.

However, one major trend has raised its head with huge implications for the advertising and marketing community. The biggest trend for 2017 is uncertainty.

In light of the surprising Brexit vote and Trump victory, being off-trend has never been so on-trend. It’s looks like the Chinese curse ‘may you live in interesting times’, is something we’ll witness first hand. We are on the cusp of interesting times and industries are shuddering with uncertainty and fear.

Yet, even a fleeting glance at our past shows how periods of creative revolution have surged in interesting times.

Wartime propaganda in the 40s added to the traditional forms of advertising, just as trust was starting to wane in commercials. During that turbulent time John Caples pioneered his advertising effectiveness measurement just as effective engagement was called into question.

The political unrest of 1960s America’s political unrest saw Andy Warhol debut the concept of “pop art”. The small canvas works of everyday consumer goods created massive waves in the art world, catapulting Warhol and pop art to global fame. And born in the economic rubble of 1980’s financial crisis, we saw the invention of the mobile phone and the PC. Two of the biggest developments in communications since the telephone itself.

This isn’t just a phenomenon that happens on a macro cultural level. The mark of a great organisation is how it uses creativity during these times.

Creativity is so often undervalued, especially during times of flux and uncertainty. The reality is, it can be a tonic that rejuvenates growth.

In 1970, during Apollo 13’s flight to the moon, an explosion damaged the air filtration system and led to a dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide in the cabin. If the system could not be fixed, the astronauts would be dead within a few hours. Back at NASA mission control, all engineers, scientists, and technicians immediately focused their attention to solve the problem. Working with a set of materials identical to those on board the spacecraft, they desperately tried to build a filtration system that the astronauts might be able to replicate. With little time to spare, they came up with something that they quickly conveyed to the astronauts onboard who were able to build the filter. It worked, and three lives were saved.

Creativity is so often undervalued, especially during times of flux and uncertainty. The reality is, it can be a tonic that rejuvenates growth.


So, while some industries shudder at these uncertain times, the creative industry should be ready to leap. And the agencies and brands that are not afraid to change course are the ones that will thrive.

The whole point of creativity is that you don’t know where you’ll end up when you begin (which could almost be the definition of uncertainty) and that’s the journey the creative industry embarks on next year. Its been a decade since Ireland won gold at the Cannes Lions festival, so 2017 seems as good a year as any to herald Ireland’s advertising renaissance.