Space 2018 – the blank canvas for creativity

Space can inspire creativity in both senses, as a recent presentation from Virgin Galactic put 2018 into perspective.  “Rockets are a tower filled with fuel, you put a capsule with people on top, then blow it up”.

“That’s not a Virgin Galactic experience.” Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough is presenting at a Creative Social Global event in Hackney, East London. He’s talking about space, how to get there (and back), and why that’s important.

The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer is a reusable flight system that is set to change space travel, with the first flights scheduled for 2018. So far 700 people from 60 countries have paid $250,000 to reserve the first tickets to space from Foster & Partners-built Spaceport America in New Mexico.

These customers have booked based on faith alone, and very much in the spirit of Richard Branson’s “Screw it, let’s do it” entrepreneurial mindset. “Take bold steps and people will join you, it’s not companies that are disruptive, its customers,” says Attenborough.

Drifting off into space – and thoughts of 2018 – inspired a few creative resolutions to harness that entrepreneurial spirit and power of creative disruption:

Just say no (to bad ads)

It’s easy to do bad ads, and easy to do poor social, PR or creative. It’s easy to create bad content, easy to sell the client short – if you don’t care. But we do care, very much, it keeps us awake at night and wakes us with a jolt in the morning, and that’s why we shouldn’t allow poor creative anymore. Our jobs can be about instilling passion, belief, vision and ambition, or they can be about being “good enough”.

Every creative chain is as strong as its weakest link, but it is down to us, everyday, to make it better – whether an ad, a video or an event – it matters every single time. We have the opportunity to stop “good enough” – just say no.

Don’t fake it, darling

There are plenty of brands out there faking it right now, indeed, some are pretty good at it. But there’s a problem – real, heartfelt activism may be a powerful, bold way to engage people, but it also invites scrutiny of a brand and it’s values. If everything doesn’t stack up then prepare for a car crash. Clothing brands such as Patagonia and Finisterre live and breathe their brand, and most importantly backup their claims with real-world action. Their activism is inspiring because it is so necessary in today’s world – we all need to be activists.

Give your fans what they want

Whatever your political take, US President Trump has been highly successful at building a social profile. His director of new media, Justin McConney, not only believes in the power of short form video (amen) but also lives by the maxim ‘give the people what they want’. It’s a deceptively simple strategy that has arguably put Trump in the oval office, and with an enviably low spend to boot (some pundits quote Trump’s campaign TV spend at just one percent of Jeb Bush’s)¹. That said, Trump is also a living example of giving your fans too much of what they want – moderation is the message.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

While 2017 has arguably been a year of rampant tech fear, 2018 will certainly have much in common. From reports that AI will steal our jobs, to the widely-published certainty of City pundits that Bitcoin is a bubble and blockchain projects are all Ponzi schemes, the age of techno-luddites and FUD is gaining traction. Back in 2000 the internet bubble saw incredible innovation, half-baked nonsense and downright scams mixed up in a melting pot that has seen the better concepts dominate our times. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Back in Creative Social Global’s Rome Studios overlooking north London, Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough is drawing to a triumphant finale, sketching out the customer experience arc of becoming an astronaut.

Once Globalflyer drops from VSS Unity at 50,000 feet, the rocket motor fires and in six seconds the six passengers will be fired to mach 3.5G. To get some perspective, fighter pilots experience 3.5G when catapulted from an aircraft carrier.

Expect noise, energy rush, vibration, the sky will go from blue, to purple, then black. The rocket will switch off and there will be silence.  Unclip the seat belt and experience weightlessness – drift to the window for a life changing view of planet earth and the coolest selfie, ever.

However, Attenborough believes that the real kicker comes at the end of the experience – safely back on terra firma, returning astronauts have a different relationship with the planet and the cosmos for the rest of their lives –  they realise there is no Planet B.

Don’t wait for Year B either – screw it, let’s do it, in 2018.

Mark Terry-Lush