Publicis China chief creative officer Johan Vakidis (pictured) has just emerged from the Covid 19 life on lockdown in China and here he recaps on a crazy period of his life that makes him look optimistically towards the future.
The not so good:
As covid-19 hits the rest of the planet, I can’t help this feeling but to want to help share whatever knowledge I have gained, as China as a whole experienced this almost two months ahead of the rest of the world.
But this is a tragedy and we are all affected. It is truly sad, it is close to all of us and really makes me rethink what I thought I knew. What drove me really insane at first was all the bullshit news and hype and all the skewed information. I think we all have had or will have this time of panic due to not knowing whom or what to believe. I had to force myself to not talk about this at home anymore, turn off the TV and I really had to choose what I wanted to consume. The tipping point happened when my son started creating videos on his YouTube channel to share his tips and overall how he coped with the situation – in the middle of his virtual schooling at home.
But just like anything, I learnt which sources I should rely on, how much to take in, and how much to share or talk about when it came to this Corona Virus.
As we naturally tend to quote the latest numbers, the official count and the data, the one piece of information that really hit me was this: “We must remember that these are people, not numbers”. This is a quote that came out after a WHO announcement, and is something I personally shared.
Point being, fast forward 8 weeks and it seems that, not just me, but many people around me in this market, have gained a certain expertise in the absorption of information and gained a certain balance amid all the heavyness. So this takes me to the good side of this story…
We have all become experts in multiple crafts. The lockdown, which was taken very seriously here in China allowed so many people to get creative. For example, I would see dishes shared on wechat that looked like they came out of a 5 star Michelin establishment only to realize that they were created by a person in a job function that almost don’t compute when comparing. These types of surprises were everywhere and were very refreshing and encouraging to me, and forced me to up my game also as a chef, as a Dad, as a listener and as a good citizen. I truly believe that home became the most important place in the world for 8 weeks and the memories created in this time potentially could not have happened without such a lock down. It also brought a certain reality to content being shared on social media. It was honest.
Being the optimist I am, I think great things will result from these tough circumstances. There is nothing great about illness and loss of lives but there is something great in change. The lock down and social distancing for me personally, has changed the way I look at how I work and live.
It has changed the very notion of what can be done and how. For example, we did have a lot of work during the lockdown. We had work that had to go live. One major change I noticed was how the classic approach of fleshing out a presentation for clients and then pitching back didn’t really matter as much as I thought it did.
During this period we worked together, sharing scribbles shot on mobile phone rather than pages in keynote. We connected two or three times a day and got feedback instantly. I would even go as far as to say we created the work together, in (almost) real-time.
So this change actually changed a lot for me and how I work, this is a new thing to me, something I really want to gain expertise at also.