Five tips for embracing collectivism

Jonny Clow
By Jonny Clow | 28 July 2023
Jonny Clow.

Jonny Clow, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Silver Lining

One silver lining from the pandemic is a renewed appreciation for togetherness. Our basic need to connect and have connected experiences, for many, has brought new purpose and meaning.

As societal and environmental challenges rise, now more than ever, there is an ongoing need for collectivism.

Collectivism is the practice of giving a group priority over each individual in it. In a collectivist society, decisions benefit all the people. 

While it’s more common for us to embrace collectivism in our own communities, creative agencies can sometimes struggle with a unified collective mentality.

So, here are five simple tips for embracing collectivism.

Find your mob

There are so many interesting collectives out there.

From ad industry led groups like MADC, Never Not Creative and The Aunties, to purpose-driven communities like 1% Pledge for the Planet, B Corp’s B Hive and a swathe of volunteering options. Contributing to something other than everyday work is hugely rewarding. Meeting others with shared values is what true business culture is about.

See what your company is supporting or pioneering, and get involved. If it is falling short in areas you are passionate about, find interesting ways to bring the company and its people together.

Start using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’

‘I’ is subjective. ‘We’ is powerful.

In the children’s party game ‘pass the parcel’, we see individuals compete for the prize, as sheets of the parcel are unwrapped. Often we want to be the one that the light shines-on, the one that cracks the idea and solves the problem. But great ideas need layers and input from different walks of life. Ideas with purpose should get stronger the more people it touches. Passing the parcel in reverse not only protects the prize, but makes the prize bigger and gives ownership to all.

A Company's opinion and values are far more powerful than the individuals it contains. Mother, founded in the UK, and one of the best creative agencies in the world, used to sign-off all their credits and un-named spokespeople with just ‘Mother’. Be confident in your company's positioning and make sure you are aligned in meetings with a collective narrative.

Collectivism can lead to activism

People often get scared by the word activism, but activism simply means the policy or action of using campaigning to bring about change.

At Silver Lining we strive for advertising to affect the world in positive ways. Not only do we feel more inspired when we work with clients who share the same values, but we can see a greater impact in the work.

Many of our clients within the Mental Health sector are rallying for increased levels of activism within the sector. We are all very aware of the mental health epidemic, but now it’s time to focus on collective approaches that drive action-oriented campaigns. Creating systemic change is the collective responsibility of us all and the advertising industry as a whole should do its bit. Similarly, it’s our responsibility to advertise brands more responsibly, which means making strong calls against the not so responsible ones. Comms Declare and Make My Money Matter are doing some great work in this space.

Collective Creativity

Sometimes it’s better to not overthink, but just to release. You’ll get a lot wrong, but you'll be more right overall.

Award School uses the practice of filling 50 blank boxes with 50 ideas. This is no doubt about facing your own fear - getting all of the obvious and ‘keepers’ out onto the table without judgment. Once you have them, you can collectively come together and see what works. There is a good reason why when everyone in the room gravitates to a specific idea. It’s infectious.

I heard a brilliant thing the other day about collating ideas into Earth, Moon and Neptune. Earth delivers safely on the brief. Moon pushes it outside of the atmosphere. And Neptune reclaims its place as the last solar system planet that’s truly ‘out there’. Why it works is that once you’ve gone to Neptune, the Moon seems a hell of a lot closer - even though it’s some 384,400 kilometres away.

Meet people, with no fixed agenda

There are so many reasons why not to do this. Everyone is so busy and guarded about what others want from them, let alone the daunting nature of a meeting without an agenda. But you don’t need to have a reason to connect if you already know there are commonalities. It could be a natural fit with values or purpose or that you both simply share the same challenges everyday.

Sometimes it’s just interesting to chat. An opportunity to find out about other people and their businesses. It’s hugely cathartic.

In the last week I had two such meetings with fellow B Corp organisations where there was no fixed agenda. With both meetings, there was plenty of common-ground and future collaborations to be explored. These conversations not only expand your network, but give you reasons to help each other in the future.

Keeping lots of doors open makes interesting things happen.

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