The Big Creative Themes for 2021

This is a revolution…

Soon, we’ll all have more freedom to go about our daily lives - and experts around the world anticipate a seismic growth in consumer spending. Starved from our favourite experiences, there is building anticipation for a splurge on all of the things we missed out on during lockdowns: live entertainment, retail, hospitality, travel and much more. We know that consumer behaviour and sentiment have changed - and so now must the products, services and experiences that motivate and inspire them. Creativity - the ultimate problem solver - has never been needed more. And yet, right now, inspiration feels so much harder to come by.

“Challenging times need inspiration to spark reinvention.”


It will be a revolution. At LIONS HQ, we sent a survey to senior marketing and creative leaders globally - those with the job titles of “head of” and above to find out what you think about the “state of creativity”. More than 1,500 of you replied - and the responses are enlightening. You told us exactly what you need to know and what are the most important and immediate themes you need to unpack and debate. This is the first of our reports (the full findings will be released later in the year). Here, we’ve identified the eight key themes that will frame the conversations on stage and on screen at LIONS for the year ahead. Whilst the overall sentiment from the “State of Creativity” survey is perhaps best summarised as “cautious optimism” for creative marketing investments, there is a remarkable disconnect between brands and their agency partners. In answer to the question “To what extent do you value creativity as a business advantage? (vs other aspects of business)”, 67 percent of brand respondents said it was “extremely valuable”. But conversely, only 17 percent of agencies believe that their brand clients value creativity as “extremely valuable” in driving business advantage. We can’t possibly tackle this deep misunderstanding in this short report, but it certainly throws up some interesting conversations that need to be had across the industry. Stay tuned for more on that - as well as more detailed findings that we’ll release in the coming months. Overall, we sense that 2021 will be the year of the “big reset”: where the creative community will charter the unpredictability to set out an agenda for business growth. It’s also a year (and decade) fused with excitement: as brands lean into what many analysts and industry commentators are already nicknaming “the roaring twenties”.

It will be a revolution.

Here are the 8 themes


How COVID-19 has changed everything

Why culture, society and creativity will never be the same again.


Coping with a crisis

Creativity is the answer: now what’s the question?


It’s a journey, not a destination

Rewriting all the rules of retail.


Build back better

How creative businesses will thrive not just survive.


Will brands still save the world?

The purpose priority post-pandemic.


Are you stalking me?

Being cool, not creepy, in the pursuit of personalisation.


A fad or the future?

The good, bad and the ugly: seeing the creative potential of new platforms and technologies.


The vanilla content issue

Getting attention in a blizzard of bland stories