Vicki Maguire: The TikTok Generation Is Sparking A Tidal Wave Of Creativity

07 Jan, 2022

In the first of MAD//Fest new series of weekly columnists, Adland legend Vicki Maguire finds reasons to be hopeful about 2022 and beyond.

With the uncertainty and chaos of the last couple of years looking set to continue, anyone buoyed up with enthusiasm and optimism for the year ahead risks sounding like a woefully naïve idiot or, worse, a tech billionaire. 

But there are some reasons to be hopeful. The recurrent trauma of the pandemic has done untold damage and spotlighted the dire inequality in our society. By the same token, it is also forging an incredibly inspiring generation of activists. Moreover, all of the pent up rage, anxiety and ongoing limitations on everyday activities will undoubtedly spark a tidal wave of creativity.   

Navigating the pressures of the pandemic and the damage to the economy, it’s hard not to worry about the future of our industry.

But a similar feeling of being robbed of a future propelled young people in the 70s to usher in a golden era in the history of British music. I believe the 2021 winter of discontent, much like that of 1979, will produce a generation galvanised by a DIY ‘rip it up and start again’ attitude.

Kids holed up in their bedrooms through a series of lockdowns with social media as their only creative outlet have transformed into millions of creative sparks across TikTok. TikTok, the home of meritocratic self-expression, has shaped some of the biggest cultural trends of the past few years, from goblincore to the sea shanty revival, changing the worlds of fashion, comedy, and music, starting a creative revolution in the process. It has helped unleash the boundless creativity required to fuel movements that advance us. In the same way punk emerged in dark times, we can look forward to ushering in a new creative era.

Many in the creative industries rightly worry about a talent drought as a result of the challenges brought on by the pandemic and Brexit. The Institute for Employment Studies estimates that there are now more than one million fewer people in the labour market than pre-pandemic, showing the skills shortage faced by businesses in every sector.

Meanwhile, Forrester's ‘Predictions 2022: Agencies’ report suggests that staffing will be a major concern this year. It estimates the industry is facing a shortage of around 50,000 people globally. Forrester puts this down to the rise of remote work, the gig economy, layoffs and the Great Resignation resulting from people's changing post-pandemic priorities.

The challenges are acute but we must not forget that we also have more access than ever to brilliant diverse talent if we can meet them half way. Exceptionally creative young people are doing it for themselves, starting up businesses, disrupting culture, making art, reinventing the world.

To inspire them to work with us, we need to make our industry diverse, inclusive and accessible, and offer them all the creative freedom, investment and support they need. If we take their lead, we too could be a home for the best creative revolutionaries out there.

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