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How To Stay Ahead Of The Creative Curve

We’re all sick to death of hearing it by now, but it can’t be denied that the last year has been one of huge change, not only in our personal lives, but also in the advertising world: society came to a sudden standstill. Schools and shops closed their doors, national lockdowns kept us housebound and worst of all, there was just so. much. bad. hair. With such turbulent change, businesses have been forced to adapt and reinvent themselves in order stay afloat - and relevant. 

Read on to hear our in-house Digital Marketing and Social Media team’s scoop on how certain brands have cleverly adapted to the pandemic and tips on how to develop a marketing strategy that stays ahead of the creative curve.

Innovate or die

The formally cringe-inducing industry buzzword “innovate or die” has never been more pertinent and relevant to the brands now bearing the brunt of a post-pandemic economy.  In the last twelve months many brands have come face to face with the daunting challenge of how to quickly reshape their advertising approaches to suit the new cultural climate and to continue to achieve their business goals. However this sudden shift should not always be seen as a hindrance, but instead it can be an exciting opportunity to grow and evolve and many brands have caught on to this strange opportunity. They have instead utilised this time to their advantage and jumped at the opportunity to produce creative and humorous advertising campaigns. Now is a time of change and many brands have used COVID-19 as a launchpad of reinvention. 

For example, many of our longstanding clients have made a jump from traditionally printing annual reports and newsletter to commissioning exciting interactive digital versions. Our work with companies such as Moy Park and Agro Merchants Group and Kainos have been almost entirely digital in 2020/21, reflecting new opportunities in a wide reaching medium. 

Creative crisis management

Brands are typically well-equipped for crisis management - and are usually very good at getting out of sticky situations! Although Covid-19 was a complete curveball, many brands were agile in working their way around it. During the initial outbreak, several brands were quick to stay ahead of the curve by quickly adapting their brand iconography to be relevant in a Covid-19 context. Guinness and McDonalds both launched digital ads which played on their distinct iconography while referencing the current times in an intelligent and quite powerful way, reminding customers that they weren’t going anywhere despite the times, further cementing brand trust. 

Nestlé’s Kit Kat launched a timely and playful bus shelter ad campaign in February 2021. It diverged from their usual straightforward, no-frills advertising style but still used their easily recognised product and logo to hammer the brand home. This simple but creative ad was incredibly relevant to everyone working during the pandemic - while staying true to their”take a break” mantra. Whitenoise also joined in on the message, with one of our designers gleefully tearing our logo in two to support the 2m distance message.  

Moving away from print and digital, Burger King did an amusing PR stunt in the wake of Covid-19 wherein customers could wear a huge version iconic king’s crown in order to socially distance from others. Others brands took the plunge of launching their product during the initial height of the pandemic - be it intentionally or as an unfortunate result of bad timing. Emily Snacks used the unprecedented times as a springboard to launch a clever and memorable ad campaign. They also took the bus shelter approach to  humorously use the pandemic as a way of elevating their advertising language. This was obviously initially designed with the rare in-person passerby in mind, but with a clever and ambitious expectation of the potential to go viral, which it did - creating a bit of a buzz in the advertising community. 

Get with the times!

We’ve all shared the same grievances in the last year. Identifying these universal experiences and creating something relevant to them is a great way to get ahead of the curve, especially when it’s done sooner rather that later. However, anticipating what to do afterwards is where the real challenge lies. Ottilie Ratcliffe, creative director of The Romans, a PR agency in London argues:

"The winners of this phase of coronavirus are the brands who’ve created campaigns that bridge the gap, are designed to work for lockdown or let-out, [and] are still relevant no matter where we find ourselves in three weeks’ time (…) The companies that come out of this the best are the ones who’ve held onto their core values and established brand behaviour, but flexed it successfully for each phase of this shitshow we find ourselves in, rather than jumping on the bandwagon to get into roundup pieces about key workers."

Flexibility, adaptability and keeping up with the times are key to stay ahead of the curve. A close social listener would notice that the sentiments of the consumer have changed considerably in the last year and brands need to recognise this. People have lost trust and have become more emotional. Aggressive sales-based marketing tactics may have been reliable in the past but after the last year this approach is at risk of becoming tone-deaf.  As we come out of lockdown, gentler, more authentic and joyful advertising campaigns are the way to go. All of us who have been stuck at home for so long no longer want to be bombarded with inauthentic brands campaigns, but instead feel encouraged by softer, much more human approach.

It’s been a hard year - we all deserve a treat!

Brands that listen closely to their consumers typically do better at keeping them. Getting ahead of the creative curve could mean thinking less about profit and more about experience. The last 12 months have been hard and we all deserve a treat this year. Sacrifice those extra pennies for a joyful, authentic experience that will delight your customers and keep them coming back. Swap out expense for experience. In 2020 Uber offered free rides and meals to NHS staff and care home workers. This was probably a significant financial cost but cemented them as a company who listens and reacts to its customers. Pret a manger did something similar for their customers - offering free drinks and 50% off food for NHS workers.

For brands to survive in 2021, staying ahead of the creative curve is more important than ever. Aim to think creatively and look ahead of the current times. Be flexible and adaptable with your approach as things can change at the drop of a hat. And finally, be more generous towards your customers as they are the key to making you business grow.

If your brand is looking for that creative spark, or you'd like a little helping hand in getting those creative juices flowing, be sure to reach out to one of our in - house designers today at

About Whitenoise

Four teams. One studio. 

At Whitenoise, we offer brand identity development and graphic design across all traditional and digital media, advertising for tv, press, radio, OOH, online and ambient. 

Our animation offering includes 2D/3D animation and motion graphics, FX, CGI and 3D visualisation. Our film team works with the latest technology for business and broadcast, we have 4k film capture capability, Steadicam, aerial videography and sound design. The digital team offer social media services including content creation, copywriting, social media management and digital advertising.

For a full list of services, visit our website: 

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