Creativity is flourishing during the pandemic:

there’s an art gallery in every window.

After 30 years of living and working in London (a two-year stint in LA notwithstanding) I made the move to Somerset with my family just before Christmas. It certainly helped having an employer with an enlightened attitude to remote working. It’s an attitude that’s paying off in spades right now, of course, as DesignScene already had systems in place, and a working culture, that could readily ‘pivot’ (surely destined to be Word of the Year) to recent changing circumstances.

On Easter Sunday we took advantage of our daily exercise slot by walking up to the village of Swainswick. It’s a remarkably quaint spot with a gorgeous view over the valley. But what struck me was how even here, in a tiny, out of the way place, every home had embraced a culture of creativity. Chalk drawing rainbows adorned the pavements and front drives, rainbow pictures were placed in the window of every home. It’s the same on my street too, of course, and I’m sure it’s true on yours. In particular, wherever there are children being ‘home schooled’ (a polite way to describe grown adults being reduced to quivering wrecks and marvelling at the stamina of teachers), there are hand-made pictures, drawings, cardboard cut-outs, bunting, installations of all kinds. Bringing colour and creativity to every street in Britain.

What does this have to do with creativity?

Of course, there’s a great motivation here, and it’s to say thanks to the frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line to get us through this. But it also means that, inside each of those homes, there’s a parent or carer sitting with a child, handing out drawing paper, crayons and felt tips, and helping them create an original artistic expression. What’s more, just like advertising, one that delivers a message. Not sticking on the TV or putting a screen in their hands (okay, at least not until wine o’clock) but, instead, helping to foster within them a love of creativity. Picasso said that, ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ More children who have had the creative spark within them ignited, even in a crisis, can only bode well for the future health of the UK’s creative industries.

How can we translate live events into digital ones?

Within DesignScene we’re nurturing our own agency culture to help us stay creative and get through this, together. We’re delivering online training courses for our staff across all departments, I’ve kicked off a digitally-hosted creative writing course, and we have fun stuff like a Happy Hour pub quiz (live from the Zoom Inn) each day, as well as our own weekly Bake Off competition. All activities we’re sharing across our boutique global network. And all expressions of an agency culture that wants to use digital channels creatively to bring us closer while we’re working remotely.

DesignScene has a long track record of embracing the potential of digital to bring people closer. As a ‘live’ event agency, the company’s ethos has always been about connecting people with our clients’ brands. Immersing them in their message. And giving them an unforgettable experience that they want to share further. So, just because you can’t host a live event on the beach in Cannes this summer, doesn’t mean you can’t still go live and reach your audience through digital channels. And that’s exactly how our approach has pivoted; to deliver digital experiences that are at least as immersive, memorable and unique as any ‘real life’ experience.

Mapping out the digital customer journey

Our exploration of digital as a medium for event delivery goes way beyond a static, stultifying webcast. Instead, we apply the same creative criteria to digital we would to one of our IRL events. Mapping out a digital customer journey across three phases – pre-event, live event and post-event – and mapping unique, tailored experiences onto each of those phases. We’re combining the physical and the digital (I refuse to go there with ‘phygital’ – there are some lines you don’t cross!). How? With drops and deliveries to delegates’ doors (maintaining safe social distancing, of course) that offer unique, personalised experiences pre-event. While online there’s the digital red carpet, Q&As with talent or keynote speakers and unlockable content for VIP ‘digital delegates’.

Surprise & delight moments

In the live event phase we’re using AR and wifi-enabled devices to truly immerse the digital audience in the experience. And make them part of it by delivering ‘surprise and delight’ moments via their connected smart phone, for instance. Empowering them with instant ‘right to reply’ during Q&As, taking the temperature of their experience with live polls and capturing the kind of emotional data that you simply don’t get from delegates sitting like ducks in a row in a plenary.

The extra scope to reach out to a wider audience who couldn’t attend the IRL event means that, post-event, the social footprint is exponentially larger. Digital events aren’t constrained by numbers or geography, time zones or language barriers, allowing our clients to reach the widest appropriate audience. Each of whom then becomes an educated advocate of the brand and the experience. Sharing content to their own networks and amplifying it through their social channels.

Embracing the hybrid event

The hybrid or pure-play digital event offers up exciting opportunities both during the coronavirus crisis and once it has passed. At DesignScene, we’re actively embracing these opportunities and advocating that our clients do the same. We’re fully conversant with the digital evolution of ‘live’ and the exciting opportunities it opens up. So we’re perfectly placed to unite the two experiences and offer a single, seamless, compelling experience. It’s a model that makes so much more sense in our 24/7 connected world. And one that we’re committed to helping our clients to deliver.

Now, sorry, got to dash. There’s been a rainbow painting workshop in the kitchen and I need to clean up.

Written by Neil Cook, Head of Creative

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