Overwrite Tomorrow February 1, 2021

Creativity on Pause: Are We in a New Era of Practicality?

Creativity on Pause: Are We in a New Era of Practicality?


Between the stress of the pandemic and the political events of the past year, we’ve become more serious, practical, and a little isolated from each other. We need humor and human connection now more than ever, even if vicariously. With life feeling like it’s on “pause” for many people, it is not the moment to talk about long-term dreams and aspirations…but it is absolutely the right moment to connect with consumers about hope, humor, and human connection (within current restrictions). 

Between the pandemic and the election/politics, we’re kind of obsessed with the news:

  • Some of our only interests to increase last year were politics (+4%), national news (+5%), international news (+5%), and science (+5%) 
  • People who increased usage of Facebook did so to keep up to date on the news 
  • People who increased YouTube viewing increased watching New & Politics content 

Limited social engagements and increased home responsibilities are putting creativity, self-expression, and our aspirations on pause 

  • 51% of us are eating more meals eaten at home…which means more cooking & cleaning 
  • Decreased interest in beauty, fashion, people & celebrities, sex & relationships 
  • Decreased participation in photography, singing, acting/dancing, arts & crafts, knitting & sewing as hobbies 

But it’s not all doom & gloom — our human need for entertainment, laughter, and inspiration obviously hasn’t disappeared, and we need those things from brands even if we’re a little more serious right now.  

  • “Keeping in contact with friends & family” remains the top reason for using Facebook and we increased usage of Facebook to “look at or watch fun/entertaining content” 
  • We’re traveling less (48% planned/took no trips in 2020 vs only 29% in 2019) but our interest in Travel remains steady 
  • “For entertainment” remains a top reason for listening to podcasts, and “to relax” increased slightly 

I suspect we’ll have pent up whimsy and creativity to express on the other side of Covid-19, but we’ll need to gauge how long it takes for us to relax and release it. Brands have an opportunity to be part of the return to joy post-pandemic (especially in experiential marketing and brand events!), but it will need to be timed carefully to avoid being tone-deaf. 

Tamara Alesi is Head of Agency & Media Sector, America’s for YouGov – an international research data and analytics group, and partner of The Webby Awards.

See The Full Series:

See the full Overwrite Tomorrow editorial series, featuring words by Ben WiklerColleen DeCourcy, Webby Executive Director Claire Graves, and more.