I woke up this morning in an unusually good mood. Enjoyed my shower, made an excellent coffee, embarrassed the teenagers on the drive into school with exceptionally rubbish singing. I was - dare I say it - bouncy, ready for the day and for work.
Then I put on the radio and was assaulted full force by the shitshow that is 2020. Do go home for Christmas. Don't go home for Christmas. Rising case numbers. Schools opening, closing, opening. Interminable Brexit negotiations. And the cherry on top - looming recession.
"Listen you people. I was in a good mood. I AM in a good mood. And you are making it SO VERY HARD" I shouted to an empty passenger seat (which BTW was far less satisfying without incurring the squirming shame of the over 15s).
Change is hard and, after a year of essentially sitting still, it seems to be rushing at us at a million miles an hour, from all directions, and all at once. As soon as we think we have worked out the rules (actually often before we have worked them out) they switch on us. Regrouping calls on reserves, reserves that are depleted, and yet we have done it, are doing it, again and again.
So, as we pick ourselves up and put one foot in front of the other, our chins raised and our eyes steely (once again), we need to look ahead to how we make the best of the change hurtling towards us.
All around us, as Samuel Scott's must-read article (seriously, read it) on 2020's three surprising marketing trends shows us, the discussion is about "rebooting" and about the acceleration the pandemic has brought to technology in particular. Experts are nodding "sagely" as they discuss the turbocharged pace of change to digitalization in particular.
However, as Samuel's article showcases, how many perceived wisdoms have actually been reversed because of the pandemic? A year at home has, in many ways, brought us closer together physically and emotionally. Family movie time, shared boxsets, less phone use and more communal activities are now commonplace when just a year ago they seemed archaic anathemas.
A year ago we were still joking about Christmas with the mother-in-law, now we are panicking it might not happen! A year ago I wrote about "kind communications" in the year of Brexit. That blog seems both a million years ago and just yesterday (one of those quirks of 2020 I suspect). In 2021 I want, no I demand, to see that expand.
We have an opportunity to address huge injustices, injustices in race, equality, poverty, the environment, economies, geographies, politics - the list is endless. Our year at home should have taught us just how fundamental community, support, care and hope are and that they are not from some nostalgic past, but crucial to how we move forward together.
As communicators, our role in driving this dialogue forward, in choosing to work with brands who prioritise the conversations that really matter, and crafting campaigns that drive change, is - as RuPaul (a powerful voice of change) says so perfectly - "fundamental".
I don't expect 2021 to be easy, but I do expect it to matter. And, like Charlie Bucket as he stepped into the Great Glass Elevator (and the inspiration for this blog's title), let's hope we are in for a brilliant, though undoubtedly unexpected, ride.
If there is one thing that 2020 should teach the marketing industry, it is that no one knows what will happen in 2021 or any other given year. Last week, Scott Galloway wrote that “the pandemic’s most enduring feature will be as an accelerant of existing trends”. He and others have long routinely recited the now-cliched Vladimir Lenin quote that "there are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen”. The basic idea – according to them – is that the coronavirus and resulting lockdowns have changed the world forever based on pre-existing trends. Especially in the marketing and media industries. But when you look at how this year has actually unfolded, the opposite has often occurred.