What a year — and for all the wrong reasons.
The past 12 months will surely go down as one of the most turbulent years in modern history, and one where a multitude of proverbial “unknown unknowns” appeared out of nowhere. Around the world, there were Robin Hood-esque uprisings and increased xenophobia, epitomised by the British electorate choosing to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. Economically, the financial crisis rumbled on with a dichotomy of record highs and records lows across almost all facets of the global economy.
The Fear Index
In fear of an uncertain and seemingly dark future, businesses and consumers cut back spending and lost optimism — thanks in large to relentless negativity broadcasted by the mainstream media, corporate scaremongering and the rapid rise of fake news.
2016 was also a year in which the quest for unity and fraternity resulted in the complete opposite. In politics, for instance, 'pro-the-people' pioneers, like Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, took somewhat partisan actions aimed at harmonising their respective peoples, when instead they alienated swathes of the electorate.
The corporate world saw surging record profits and unprecedented employee engagement — it also allowed stagnating wages and lowering workforce numbers. And several big businesses, with their impressive CSR and sustainability programmes, were slapped with record fines in the billions of US dollars for undermining customers. Gordon Gekko arguably got it right during 2016, with money indeed being “the mother of all evil”.
Today's businesses owners are understandably anxious. This is no more evident than in Europe and the US, where post-truth politics, low market confidence and pro-monopoly tendencies are tearing up growth plans, forcing business owners to re-examine their operating models.
The Role Creativity Can Play
Although it offers a bright light among a universe of black holes, creativity has nonetheless suffered. (By creativity I mean both content — brand journalism, design and video to name just a few — and the wider arts and culture scene).
Of note is that brands have become ultra-conservative, not knowing whether their content is legal, compliant or simply inappropriate. Projects are being shelved indefinitely and campaigns are relentlessly getting axed.
For corporate executives who are fed up with the status quo, consider this: content is a means of liberal expression for businesses, irrespective of the tight rules and regulations many industries and countries work within. And above all else, content is a way for companies to inspire customers and increase brand loyalty, which in turn can drive top- and bottom-line growth.
Let’s hope 2017 is less adverse than the past 12 months, and that content leads a new-found sense of positivity and optimism, wherever we are in the world. Here’s to a prosperous and enjoyable Year of the Rooster.
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