2020 is the year none of us will forget.
I’ve decided to think of it as the end of a decade, not the start of a new one.
And I certainly think 2021 is the best place to begin anew; Trump will be out of office and lockdowns will be nothing but a distant memory (crosses fingers.)
But in a year like no other, we saw thousands made jobless.
Businesses have folded, the hospitality sector is on its knees, M&S reported its first-ever loss, the great John Lewis announced store closures - and, of course, we no doubt all experienced some form of personal struggle.
Yet there have been winners.
Amazon has certainly had one hell of a show! Their founder and CEO Jeff Bezos added an additional $13 bn in a single day to take his personal wealth to an unprecedented $189bn and we’ve all had time to think a little differently and it has opened us up to new things.
With the upcoming annual ‘adland’ season pitting brands against each other to make the biggest TV Christmas ad campaign, I started thinking: wouldn’t it be refreshing if we, the industry, transformed this tradition and thought a little differently about its place in culture?.
Brands have so much power.
They influence us, change our behaviours and keep everything moving forwards.
But how refreshing would it be if this year, brands set a different kind of tone?
Instead of spending millions on agency fees, production and media this Christmas, imagine if this year, they approached it a little differently.
Could earned media and corporate social responsibility make for a harder-hitting campaign?
At a company talk, our guest Mary Portas had some fascinating thoughts on this. She spoke of a new and different economy, supported by the ex-governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.
It’s called the Kindness Economy.
The Kindness Economy is made up of businesses and corporations that care for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
This includes internal and external individuals that are impacted by the brand or organisation, such as employees, customers and wider social groups.
I really like this sentiment.
Imagine if, this Christmas, brands could reflect this sentiment.
Imagine if a brand like Amazon or Not On The High Street got behind the #AdoptAShop campaign (a public pledge to support 3 independent local businesses hit by the pandemic) and told us to go and 'shop local'.
It’s great to see that John Lewis has actioned its Christmas end line ‘Give a little love’, and has pledged to raise £5m for struggling families (customers will be encouraged to make a charity donation which will be matched by the retailer to the value of £2m to help FareShare and Home-Start support struggling families in the UK). But could it have been bolder and created an ad that and was not an ad, but a simple manifesto of kindness: This year we have handed our Christmas budget to the families who need it more than us?
Arguably advertising is important and has its role to play, but we all have the capacity to be better.
Imagine the impact that would create and how it would lift us up spiritually.
I’m sure we would only love and respect our favourite brands even more.
Which, in the end, however you look at it, is good for business.