I contributed five interlinked speculations to the very fine Isolated lockdown talks (don’t forget to donate).
The video is here:
The 100 word stories, here:
Dispatches from the New Normal
- The New Gen
She hadn’t even had a graduation. No -one had for three years. No silly dressing up or chance to compare overdrafts. She hadn’t even had a final show or New Blood. It had all sort of fizzled out. She still pictured the trendy, iconic agency spaces she’d imagined working in. She was New (Covid) Gen III or “relative surplus creatives” as the more Marxist ones called themselves. She logged in. The bright logos of the agencies that owned the System appeared. The same agencies she’d hoped to work in. She sighed and put her bids in for the day’s jobs.
- The Creative
He really didn’t like his new partner. It wasn’t that she wasn’t good. She had great ideas. She was always discovering some popular cultural reference or meme he hadn’t even heard of. She had a wonderful eye for design. And you couldn’t fault her workload. She was pleasant enough on Zoom calls. When the new teams were announced after the agency sold its offices as part of “project flexible”, he tried to build a rapport, he really had. But some teams, well as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, there was just no there there. He sighed and booted her up.
- The Strategist
She used to love workshops. Creative. Surprising. Fun. Empathy maps and user journies told stories, personas almost lived and breathed. There was an energy and her job was to understand it. In the early days, they’d managed to replicate some of that virtually. She’d still uncovered surprising insights, thick data. There had still been that indefinable energy. But then they’d sent the bands out. Stories were mapped against sweat responses. Surprises had heart rate peaks. Empathy had breathes per minute. Energy was numbers. She started the workshop and sighed as she tried to minimise the live graphs on her screen.
- The CEO
He had refused to sell in the days when there were buyers – holding companies, consultancies, tech companies. He liked the idea of being “an independent”. It’s why he’d started the agency. Control had let him build something real. He’d loved buying the fussball table and then later deciding it was naff. He felt he’d crafted something. He hated the rhetoric of a business as a ‘family’ or even a ‘team’ but, call him an aging hippy, but he’d made something. He looked at his Zoom windows: a zero-hours student; an AI avatar, biometric insights with a voice over… and sighed.
- The customer
She liked being out and about. It was emptier than what was now called “the Before”, but there were people, in their lanes,, waiting for the passing spaces. But they were out and about. The band buzzed. Not a social distance warning for once but an offer from the shop 200m away, at the next lane junction. She glanced at the screen on the buggy as the band started an energy track. She loved that guy. She never knew he’d recorded that song, her most recent earworm. The animation reminded her of something… She smiled. Those advertising people were clever