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The role of creativity post Covid-19

by Rohan Reddy, the Executive Creative Director for the McCann Africa network

The bad news

At the time of writing this in Johannesburg, Covid-19, aka the Coronavirus, has infected more than 190 000 people globally and claimed over 7 500 lives. Just three months ago, most had never heard of ‘the Coronavirus’, but now it is a household word.

In response, countries are shutting their borders, denying visas, grounding airlines. Schools and universities are closing, supermarket shelves are being emptied of everything from toilet paper to tofu, once buzzing restaurants are reduced to whispers. Businesses and some industries are scrambling to stay afloat, stock markets are crashing, politicians are looking less presidential and more pathetic.

Our hands have never been cleaner, human contact is being frowned upon, people are getting sick or dying. We don’t care much about advertising or design anymore; mortality is our reality, we care about surviving.

When 2020 comes to an end, the world we live in will probably look very different from the one we said goodbye to in 2019. And it is impossible to predict what this new world will look like.

The good news

Humanity will survive this virus. And, something beautiful is bound to emerge. Because, we as humans have a primal desire to make our existence beautiful again, and again.

Creativity will save the world. People will look to our poets, our artists, our musicians, our dancers, our inventors, our architects, our engineers, our writers and designers to redefine humanity’s purpose post-Covid-19. Businesses will look to their advertising agencies and design studios to redefine how we consume everything from food to fashion to travel.

Because, at the end of 2020, it will not be business as usual. It will be something completely different. We will spend our money differently, we will save our money differently and we will probably make our money differently too. We will have no choice but to adapt to and redefine the changes coming our way, big and small. But adapt and redefine we must.

History will not always want to remember the anxiety and sadness and sickness and death Covid-19 has infected upon us – important as it is. I believe history will ultimately want to remember how we picked up the pieces, rose above it all and brought humanity back together. Because we belong together. I call this belonging, culture.

So, to all my fellow creatives out there – prepare yourselves. For when the time comes, there’s work to be done. There will never be a greater opportunity to lead the world forward, and not from a political front but a creative front. It’s not just our job, it’s our existential duty.

Get thinking. The present is not going anywhere. I look forward to seeing what we will all create. Our children will thank us later.

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