“2020” — WTF?!
by Leigh Tayler (@LeighAnneTayler) As each day of 2020 ticks by, it seems a new WTF?! moment springs up like some sort of grotesque jack-in-the-box. All these moments, seemingly disparate, are flares in our collective society, moments that are screaming for us to review how our society is built and operates. It’s the year we won’t be allowed to look, hide or run away from the issues that need to be addressed — it’ll be the year we’ll be forced to face our societal demons.
The year started on fire, literally, as the world watched Australia’s bushfires burn. And the year has sought to continue as it began… on fire, one wild fire after another.
- WTF?! A global pandemic just killed hundreds of thousands and annihilated the world’s economy.
- WTF?! Another unarmed black person was just killed at the hands of those sworn to serve and protect. And another. And another.
- WTF?! The president of the biggest democracy is encouraging the use of force against citizens exercising their rights to protest against systemic racism — in a tweet.
- WTF?! Another woman and child killed at the hands of a man. And another. And another. And another. This one time she was hung from tree and was eight-months pregnant.
Is it just me or does it feel like these fires are building towards something?
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Leslie Dwight, a writer/designer, penned something that gave me pause to think:
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“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather the most important year of them all.” ?
This will be a watershed year. At least, it should be.
Because things need to change, and change they will. I, for one, am worried that the change we need won’t be the change we get. Pressure forms diamonds yes, but it’s more likely to create fissures. How do we prevent this pressure, the discomfort of 2020, from changing the world into an even more-divided and -extreme places? How do we instead use the pressure to form something valuable, something worthy?
I wish I had the answers to these questions. But I don’t.
Perhaps some thinkers far more creative or ingenious than I will use their powers of creative thinking and lateral problem-solving and spark an idea that will grow into the answer the world needs. But we can’t wait for miracles — and we can’t wait for someone else to fix the issues.
Let’s seize the moment
So WTF?!, adland, even if we can’t solve the all the world’s problems, let’s seize the moment to create positive change within our own circle of influence: the advertising industry. Let’s start somewhere. Let’s make 2020 the year where our industry transforms through the fire:
- Equal pay for equal work
- Meaningful transformation, not just tokenism
- Visibility of all types of diversity in our advertising, including LGBTQI+ and differently abled
- Stop protecting perpetrators of racism, sexism, sexual harassment or any bigotry or discrimination
- Stop greenwashing, pinkwashing, whitewashing, all the BS
Please let’s just stop doing anything that adds to the misery or brokenness of society; let’s rather commit to making meaningful, responsible and progressive work that makes the world a better place.
Maybe I’m naïve or expecting miracles but perhaps we can all be part of what I desperately hope will be the most important WTF?! moment in 2020 — the one where people will look back and say, “That was the moment where things changed forever. That was the moment where things started to get better for everyone.”
- Columns | WTF?! – Leigh Tayler
- Q5: Monalisa Zwambila on PR, present and post-pandemic [interview]
- Making the circle bigger — together #diversity — Mimi Thurgood
- Herding Words: Uncomfortably numb — Wendy Shepherd
- #BlackLivesMatter — and should for SA’s ad industry as well — Veli Ngubane
- #OpenForBusiness — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA — Radar
- #CoronavirusSA – Special Section
Leigh Tayler (@LeighAnneTayler) is the strategy director at Joe Public United. During her career of more than 12 years, she’s worked in just about every imaginable category and has fostered a well-rounded and instinctual approach to strategic thinking that she applies at every level, from big brand concepts to last-mile moments of truth. Leigh contributes the new monthly column, “WTF?!”, which highlights the things one might hear within an agency or be asked of in briefs, to MarkLives.com.
This MarkLives #CoronavirusSA special section contains coverage of how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its resultant disease, covid-19, is affecting the advertising, marketing and related industries in South Africa and other parts of Africa, and how we are responding. Updates may be sent to us via our contact form or the email address published on our Contact Us page. Opinion pieces/guest columns must be exclusive.