Try something brave today (and tomorrow)

Kevin Chesters on how the path to bravery is clearer than it has ever been

It’s time again for the Brave Brand of the Year awards. Feels a bit weird. Feels like two different years doesn’t it? A before and after. The last calendar year has been the ultimate game of two halves! The first part where the old rules applied, and the second part where all bets are off. Not sure you can judge output through the same lens.

Pretty much everything that we took for granted as businesspeople, leaders, marketers, brands and agencies disappeared in March, almost literally overnight.

When it comes to thinking about “brave” awards in 2020, I’m not even sure what constitutes being brave in marketing anymore in this new (ab)normal.

The game has changed. The rules have gone. The map has been erased. So, what comes next? What is brave right now?

Certainly, a lot of the attention seeking things that people did before the pandemic – mouldy burgers anyone? – now just seems a bit lame in the context of what the country has just gone through.

Most of the stuff brands have done in the last three months doesn’t seem that brave either. Occasionally useful, sometimes interesting and often poignant. But I can’t really recall anything particularly ‘brave’ that anyone has done. I applaud the brands, if I’m honest, who just got on and did things that were helpful to people. The brands who tried really hard to get noticed and made a big PR song and dance about of it I just found it a bit distasteful.

But what do I think should constitute brave actions by brands, advertisers and agencies in the next few months?

In some ways I think the path to bravery is clearer than it’s ever been. I’ve a theory that the ‘bravest’ thing anyone could do right now is carry on doing things in the same old ways as before. But I don’t think I mean brave, I mean suicidal.

In terms of what’s next I think that everyone should get to play their “Covid Card” in the next twelve months. Try new things. Do interesting different things. Do those things that you didn’t think you’d get away with. If it’s a new agency relationship, try it. If it’s a brand-new way of approaching your media plan, do it. If it’s launching your own company, do that. If you’ve been made redundant then maybe it’s a chance to strike out and do that thing that you’d have thought bonkers in February. Right now, what is bonkers?

After all, who is going to blame you for trying out a new path when the old one has been erased? Who is going to have a pop at you for breaking the rules when they no longer exist?

So, here’s to bravery. Let’s all throw a bit of caution to the wind. After all, it’s only marketing. It’s not that brave in the grand scheme of things. Anyone who watched Billy Monger or Gina Miller at last year’s Brave Conference (or has been watching what the NHS staff have been up in the last few months) knows what real bravery is.

So, go for it. Try something new today. I think I heard that phrase used before somewhere.