Creativity: The antidote to Permacrisis in 2023?

23 Jan 2023

As we press on into Q1 of 2023, AAR CEO Victoria Fox shares some of our thoughts when it comes to the year ahead, the lessons from 2022, and why creativity is the life raft that will see us through what looks to be another unpredictable year…

Alongside the continuing frequency of the use of the term ‘unprecedented’, there was an apt new entry in the Collins English Dictionary in 2022: ‘Permacrisis’: The feeling of living through an elongated period of political, social and economic instability. Some might be forgiven for throwing in the towel in the face of everything the last year brought with it, but instead, I think the whole industry has taken a very British attitude of ‘keeping calm and carrying on’. Our ability to be resilient and think laterally in the face of adversity is something that we are renowned for and need to build on in 2023.

Change is the constant steady state now to keep pace with the rapidly evolving needs and views of customers. I am seeing more structural change within client organisations than I have ever witnessed before. A seamless omnichannel customer experience is basic table stakes in keeping up with customer expectations, but it is certainly not enough to get ahead of your customer and to find and drive real, meaningful growth.

I have seen two pieces of similar research coming out of the consultancies stating that over 95% of B2C and B2B executives believe their customers are changing faster than they can change their businesses. It’s evident that many of us have changed the ways we work, shop and live in the past five years and this is driving real change in marketing’s role. As the voice of the customer within the organisation, the breadth of marketing’s role continues to widen, which is an ongoing challenge for marketers.

The key to success lies in creativity. Creativity offers a path forward, quite possibly the only way forward for brands that are going to be successful. But it could be fading at a time it’s needed most.

Last year AAR researched over 100 CMOs about the importance of creativity to drive growth. We found there was a real disconnect. While the importance of creativity was evident, very few CMOs were even thinking about engineering the right conditions for creativity to flourish on a sustainable basis.

  • 74% of senior marketers are confident their company sees creativity as fundamental to driving growth
  • 20% said their organisation was highly focused on engineering the right conditions for creativity to flourish
  • 33% said the subject was rarely or never debated

So, if creativity is a key business driver why leave it to luck? It’s worth reading our ‘Creative Capital’ manifesto. It is a rallying cry to brands and their marketing teams, and the wider ecosystem of creative partners, to start investing in what we call Creative Capital: Engineering the right conditions within their organisation for creativity to flourish.

If I had a crystal ball, I’d expect it to tell me that 2023 is going to be more similar than different to 2022, with a bit of volatility thrown in here and there for good measure. So, essentially, completely unpredictable! That being said, if we make creativity the life raft to get us through the storm, I believe it will make it easier for marketing to ‘keep calm and carry on’, leaving us in a better situation whatever the ‘new normal’ is, and whenever it eventually emerges.

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Victoria Fox


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