COMMUNICATION FOR A WORLD THAT STARTS AGAIN
Five words for a reflection (together with five special guests)
What will the world be like after the coronavirus?
Everybody asks, nobody has the answer. We can imagine, guess and assume. The same goes for us who work in the world of communication. We’re trying to narrate something that changes under our feet day after day. At Canali&C we have set up a “Future Team” that is thinking about these issues, with modesty and without pretension of finding definitive solutions. Together with my collaborators we listen, interpret and propose. Here are some thoughts that we have come up with. Thanks also to the contribution of 5 great thinkers who inspired us.
Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest species that survives, but the one that adapts best to change”. Communication is doing it, in these weeks we have seen big and small brands adapting their messages to the new context, in different ways: riding the big hashtags (#iorestoacasa, #andràtuttobene), giving service information, supporting solidarity initiatives, moving content on the web. Also for the post-crisis period I believe that communication will have to be more and more fluid and dynamic, omnichannel, able to keep its ears straight to move together with the community to which it is addressed.
Albert Einstein, in 1931, wrote: “All crises bring progress. Creativity comes from agony just as day comes from dark night. It is in crisis that inventiveness, discoveries and great strategies are born. Whoever overcomes a crisis overcomes himself, remaining unsurpassed”. Quote that I translate with: it’s time to roll up our sleeves. Each of us is called upon to find solutions, to solve problems, with a 360° creative approach. The lockdown will end gradually, but social relations and the economy will change profoundly. Budgets will be lower. Places of aggregation, such as shopping malls, will have to be reorganized. Events will have to be completely rethought. In this upset, I believe that creativity will be an important asset, perhaps even more so than before, to restore serenity and put people’s social and relational needs back in the spotlight.
Charles Dickens wrote that “The pain of separation is nothing compared to the joy of meeting again”. Even in these days of closed doors and smart working we can prepare for our return. When the period of crisis is over, we will not immediately return to normal. Or, perhaps, the future normality will not coincide with past normality, it is impossible to predict. What is possible, however, is to prepare for every situation, to have communication strategies, initiatives and concrete proposals ready, as tricks up our sleeve. Our “Future Team” is working on a series of projects that aim to build a newfound serenity, to bring communities back together, both in a virtual and physical sense.
Well, we all know Andy Warhol’s line about 15 minutes of fame. The months of quarantine have brought a social explosion, with the whole world connected through the web. Billions of people have created and shared content of all kinds, from home recipes to terrace concerts to fitness classes. Everyone, more and more, a protagonist. Communication can ride this wave, for example with online initiatives based on user generated content to create empathy, brand awareness, word of mouth, sharing. Because user generated content inspires more confidence, it is perceived as more “real” than classic advertising.
Bruno Munari groomed the designers inviting them to get off the pedestal and “go paint the butcher’s sign, if they are able”. I believe that post-coronavirus communication must find humility again. Listen to people. Receive the needs of the customers. Deal with reality, without denying it. Advertisers don’t save lives. That’s the job of doctors and scientists. What we can do is be close, entertain, make people smile, add a touch of lightness that can help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. Advertising has recounted life, fantasy, missions, desires. Today it needs to open its third eye to grasp and make tomorrow’s aspirations its own.