Courage + Creativity during COVID-19

We didn’t know it then, but Monday, March 16, was our Day Zero.

We were all at the office. Writing, designing, editing videos, making spreadsheets, dreaming about donuts––typical Monday stuff. A few of us were sanctioned off in our small conference room dubbed The Alley, feverishly brainstorming campaigns for one of our clients in response to this thing called Coronavirus, or COVID-19.

And when we left the office around 5PM, we didn’t realize that the later in our see ya laters meant way later. Like, foreseeable future later. Because the next morning brought a new reality. We stopped wearing real pants. We skipped the morning trip to Starbucks. Hell, we didn’t even get in our cars or set out walking into the ward. Instead, our computer screens became grids, each square a lens to one another’s lives.

Tracy now sits in front of a Rockford pennant.
Mark works from his pantry. Sometimes he wears a gas mask.
Bryce manages a baby who thinks he’s Beethoven and the keyboard is a piano.
Erin blames her cat for eating her aloe plant.
Paul shares a workspace with his wife’s musical instruments.
Matt’s in his new home; his wife sometimes in the background on her own work calls.
Hannah’s surrounded by dinosaurs, a pug or two usually on her lap.
And Cory is in his home office, bargaining with his kids to stay off the internet for the sake of important client meetings.

Here we are, guys. Our new normal.

“This will be a true test for Savage, as it will be for everyone in the world,” Cory said on Day One. “In the end, a positive attitude and perseverance are key to ensure we come out of this even stronger than we were before.”

More than a month later, we are still persevering. We’re still adjusting, and we’re going further for our clients than we ever have before. No office means we have no more office hours. We work around the clock, on call, to best serve our clients. And above all, we maintain a positive mindset. We have to.

A lot of things have changed. Our goals have changed. Our milestones have changed. But, when agencies across the world––including in our neck of the ward––have folded, we’re thankful to be standing. Even if we can only stand together virtually.

“It’s weird,” says Mark, our Creative Director. “Even though we’re disconnected in so many ways, I feel closer to you guys than when we’re in the office.”

It’s a feeling shared by all of us. To stay our course in this uncharted landscape, we look to our core values: Be brave. Choose positivity. And do incredible work, always.

Being brave means shifting with the times.

We’ve restructured how we work with clients. Our partnerships are now more fluid and utterly bespoke. Because this new normal is constantly shifting, we have daily updates with Roti, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant who is doing everything they can to keep serving delicious, healthful food and giving meals to people in need. The work is challenging, hella collaborative, and best of all––impactful. It’s exactly what we need to propel through this ever-changing environment.

“Running an ad campaign during an unprecedented time like this has really driven both the Roti and Savage teams to a whole new tier of collaboration,” says Bryce, our Digital Strategist. “ We can’t exactly rely on historical benchmarks right now, so we need to lean on one another for strategy and challenge each other to find valuable insights in new ways. It’s challenging, but exciting.”

And we couldn’t be more aligned with our communities. Like we’re focused on supporting each and every one of our clients, West Allis, Oak Creek, and Downtown Waukesha are dead set on helping their local businesses and residents get through this. We’ve stepped up our game in being proactive for them. “Building a sense of community has never been more important on our clients’ social platforms.” says Erin, our Digital Producer. “Many residents and local businesses are seeking strength and direction during this time, and it’s our job to provide content that fosters hope and connectedness that each community will come out of this stronger.”

Choosing positivity means making the most of silver linings.

For as hard as some of our clients have been hit, others are booming. SoulBoxer Cocktail, Co., for instance, established their doorstep delivery capabilities just in the nick of time. We’ve got to spread the word that, even though bars and restaurants are limited, people can still enjoy a quality classic cocktail from the comfort and safety of their homes.

On the same token, the Satori Food Project is ready to put the pedal to the metal to satisfy demands for calming hot cocoa and mocha K-cups. We’ve completed the brand architecture and we’re ready to build a website and Amazon store to get these little pods of positivity into the hands of everyone managing stress and anxiety. Which, let’s face it, is everyone.

“While it might be hard to find the positive in these trying times,” says Cory, “we’ve realized just how blessed we are to have these people on this journey with us. Not only are we doing some of our best work, but Savage has simply become a more unified force to be reckoned with. I could not be any prouder of this team and our clients.”

Doing incredible work, always, means the show must go on.

We cannot retreat because we are being tested. We must continue to do incredible work, always. This means work that our clients love and that we’re proud to stand behind. In the weeks that have transpired, we’ve done workshops and presented brands, we’ve conducted countless interviews, and had brainstorms––all via video conference.

Last week, Art Director Tracy unveiled ASGCT’s (American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy) new brand. “Besides having the liberty of wearing sweatpants,” says Tracy, “we still prepare for our client presentations as we normally would, hoping that at the conclusion, we’ll be met with positive feedback. We’ve started a great relationship with ASGCT and I think the dedication on both ends through all of this continues to strengthen that relationship.”

Creativity Takes Courage

As an agency, you need two things to persevere during this pandemic: creativity and courage.

Creativity is needed to constantly think of new solutions, whether that means executing a sharp left turn of where we were headed with a campaign, or restructuring relationships to best serve our clients. It takes courage to be creative in a world where creativity can quickly be dismissed as non-essential. But creativity is exactly what the world needs right now; because creativity is more than a new logo design. It’s more than a vibrant color palette, or a voice that unearths the heart of an organization. It’s more than videography and photography. It is all of these things, and above all, it’s hope. It’s an illustration, a hint, a glimpse of better days ahead. It’s our promise to ourselves, that we will come out of this stronger than ever––and most importantly––together.