A frank look at what 2020 holds for the creative industry

Friday 24 January 2020

Founder Chris Page talks earnestly on choosing the right path for your business in 2020…

So here we are then, 2020 and the start of a brand-new shiny decade. Full disclosure, I’ve witnessed the start of a few of these now, in fact this is my fourth whilst running a creative business, so I know that the start of a decade is normally a time for a bit of reflection and some thought about one’s position in the grand scheme of things.

“The earth is burning, politics is screwed and society is suffering as a consequence. Shouldn’t we, as an industry steeped in innovation be recognising this and changing our behaviour as a consequence?”

Sometimes it’s very difficult as an owner, to maintain the bulletproof optimism that is required to keep driving forward and occasionally self-doubt is bound to surface but if you’re in it for the long game then this is your lot I’m afraid, you have to make the most of it and that is always helped if you can recruit the best team that you can, luckily we’ve done very well with recruitment at Three Blind Mice and Jelly and I’m very proud of our team. But how do leaders recognise the right path?

“We need to look at ourselves and ask how we can be agents of social change as well as of creative excellence.”

It seems to me, that we in the creative business have to be careful to adapt and react to the changing social and political landscape that our industry exists within. Let’s not beat about the bush, commercial pressures, especially in the UK are as tight, if not tighter than they’ve ever been: budgets are small, rents are high, competition is crazy and quality always needs to be sky high. It’s tough enough to stay in the game, let alone get ahead of it. No one can rest on their laurels.

But in amongst all this, is a new business pressure, one mainly driven by conscience. The earth is burning, politics is screwed and society is suffering as a consequence. Shouldn’t we, as an industry steeped in innovation be recognising this and changing our behaviour as a consequence?

I believe we should. Jelly and Three Blind Mice have always tried to make time and effort to bring charity projects in to our scope of work. We usually get involved in one or two projects a year and we have tried to always get involved with a project around Christmas time. But I get a feeling that ‘just at Christmas time’ isn’t going to be enough anymore. We need to look at ourselves and ask how we can be agents of social change as well as of creative excellence. Jelly were involved in two large social campaigns last year; Create & Strike and Bite The Ballot both of which supported a great cause. But I think we need to do more.

How do we become more socially aware, whilst retaining our necessary commercial focus? The short answer I’m afraid is, I don’t know yet. But I’m going to do my best to find out. Our first step is to try and become a registered B-Corporation. B-Corps are businesses that are re-tooling themselves to hit higher ecological, ethical and social standards.

We aren’t even sure if this is going to be possible for us to achieve yet but trying to answer the stringent attainment levels that are set as an entry requirement, will hopefully set us on the right path to change the way we do business, without affecting our ability to remain competitive and solvent.

On a larger scale there has been much talk of the Consumption Crisis, so this is a critical moment for those who are in the business of encouraging people to consume. We know now that everyone needs to re-use more, own less, waste less and think more about how we purchase. Surely we, as the part of the facilitation process of marketing, need to be leading this change? As a creative studio we are reliant on Brands to support us and it’s easy to tie yourself in knots trying to separate the ‘Good’ from ‘Bad’ Brands. It would be easy to condemn ‘Brand X’, the oil company as being unhealthy for the planet and therefore a company to avoid but is ‘Brand Y’ the major tax-dodging tech-plutocracy any better? Maybe it’s better to look at the individual Campaign, rather than the Brands and to assess them on their own merits?

It’s a conundrum – and I would be interested to hear how others are making it work, I know that part of our mission to become a B corporation is so that we can focus on working with other similarly qualified companies, so that we can be surer that our talent is being used in the ‘right’ places.

I would like to think that every creative business, from the biggest agencies to the smallest studios can discover something within themselves to help make society a slightly better place right now.

Who knows, maybe if we start, others will follow and 2020 will be the start of a decade that actually reverses what has recently sometimes felt like an unseemly race to a worse place?