Launching part 3 of The Game Changers series, in partnership with Creativebrief, with the inspirational Scott Morrison, founder and bringer of The Boom! He talks candidly to us about the pandemic being the creative industry’s “Netflix moment”.
“For those people who think they have a new model for creativity and delivering it, this is your Netflix moment.” Scott Morrison is explaining why “stop waiting and start creating” is the creative approach for the coronavirus era.
For Morrison the risk of not doing something is far greater than the action of trying something new or different. As he says: “If you’ve got a model you think will work, now is the time to do it. There is little risk because the whole world is in some state of change.”
Morrison, who was talking as part of the Game Changers interview series in partnership with global talent consultancy for the creative industries The Blueprint, believes that the coronavirus crisis and the global change it has ushered in means that now is the time to ditch the procrastinating. Having been in and on the board of some of the most creative companies in the world including Levi’s, Saatchi & Saatchi and Diesel, his advice is backed up with an in-depth understanding of the pressures facing both brands and agencies.
For Morrison, the only future worth working in and for is the future you create right now whether you are a creative, an agency, a team or a business. He explains: “The next wave of the creative industry will be people that are doing stuff right now. They are unleashing things right now. They are not waiting for someone to tell them what to do, they are not waiting for the client. They are shifting, they are changing fundamentally, and they are doing it now.”
The energetic Morrison uses the analogy of Netflix, pointing to the fact that just 10 years ago consumers were still going to stores to rent DVDs. A behaviour which he views akin to “a cow looking to play a piano” in the age of streaming. He explains: “Netflix clearly had a vision that broadband would eventually be so powerful they could stream, and, in the meantime, they were moving towards that goal.”
Clearly long prior to the pandemic, many across the industry had visions for new agency models and operating systems. But Morrison believes the crisis has highlighted just how many businesses across the creative industries have remained wedded to the status quo.
Morrison believes that the crisis has exacerbated flaws in existing business models. He explains: “For those businesses who before this happened were culturally or commercially fragile, the leadership was poor, the vision wasn’t clear, this has really opened Pandora’s box. They are doing business as usual, scrambling around to try and get back to the new normal.”
In contrast he points to the example of a global media business he has been working with, where months prior to the pandemic they were looking at their operating system and challenging the status quo in order to be more focused on outputs. He adds: “Businesses like that are focused on intention. They look at the world in a very different way and they are saying this is a great opportunity.”
Morrison points to the advice given to him by his former boss and Diesel Founder Renzo Rosso that in recession and times of crisis like this, there are always great opportunities because people will do things they don't normally do.
It’s an approach which underlines the need for that overused, and yet all too often overlooked approach in marketing: bravery. As Morrison explains: “If you are not being brave right now look at your culture, how your people are and start there.”
Yet while Morrison’s creative call to action is both clear and galvanising, he is honest about how across the industry, creators need to be intentional in establishing the conditions they need to thrive on a personal level. He explains: “One of the first things I’ve been telling people is you can’t help other businesses with whatever they are doing unless you help yourself first.”
He points to the fact that in the first couple of weeks of lockdown he lost a “whole load” of business because of the crisis. In response he completely changed, scaling his operating system for powering businesses to “Unblock, Unlock and Unleash creative, cultural and commercial impact.”
It’s an important point for creative businesses and leaders seeking to grow by advising brands how to adapt to the current landscape. They need to ensure they have adapted themselves, both personally and as businesses.
As Morrison, a self-proclaimed ‘doer’ adds, “when there are people who really want to make change there is this great magnetic pull that really inspires me.”
When asked about his own inspiration and career defining moments Morrison points to the experience of seeing 78-year-old Nelson Mandela dancing on a stage. It’s a memory he often turns to when thinking of the power of vulnerability as a leader in order to help the people around you come with you.
For Morrison, being a game changer means working alongside people who take action. Pointing to the cyclical nature of the conversation surrounding diversity in advertising he explains: “The only way we are going to progress with anything is to take action. We have to unleash action.”
He highlights the fact that, while the industry continues to have conversations about the same things, what is needed is to embrace true cognitive diversity. To ensure that when the industry talks about ‘culture’ it is truly looking to bring fresh perspectives together. To take action. To actually change, rather than talk about it.
With leaders like Morrison at the fore, even the most cynical reader may well conclude that 2021 may well be the year we finally say so long to the status quo.
Ditch the creative presenteeism.“If you think people come into an office from 9 to 5 to be their most creative you should think again,” Morrison explains. He believes this approach is finally shifting and the world will not go back to how it was. Yet there is still a residual obsession with the status quo of how we used to work. He continues: “There are all these people across the world who can tap into new ways of working and we aren't tapping into them enough.”
Tap into the power of the new global creative ecosystem.Morrison points to the fact that all great creative movements, whether its architecture or post-COVID creativity, have moments of inflection and change. He explains: “We now have access to creative talent across the globe in ways we didn’t previously.” A global outlook which has the potential to shift the axis of the industry.
The crisis is an opportunity.“Find the opportunity and deliver it. It is all about how you create value for your consumers,” says Morrison. He highlights his experience as CMO of Diesel in the midst of the 2008 recession in which competitors were either retrenching or simply trying to sell. The team made a bold decision, not to spend on marketing, but instead invest in its consumers. From in-store experiences with Goldie, to bespoke content with Dazed the brand looked differently at how to create value for consumers in the downturn.
Lean in and learn.Morrison wrote in the book Creative Superpowers about the importance of teachers and continual learning. He explains: “If you are not self-aware enough as a business that sometimes what you think you know is not fit for purpose, all you will do is take that old information and do business as usual.” In contrast a culture of continual learning, of actively seeking teachers encourages leaders to go through their processes and challenge their long-held perceptions. He adds: “The more that you do that, the better and more fit for purpose you are.”
Beware of the ‘yes’ men and women.According to Morrison, “the most important thing is I like working with people who have contrarian views, people that don’t always say yes.” He continues: “It is a given you should always work with people that are smarter than you. But also, I'm a massive fan of focusing on your strengths. Don't worry about your weaknesses. Find people you can work with in those areas. It’s like a jigsaw; you put a puzzle together with brilliant people.”