A creative economy
“Think left and think right
And think low and think high.
Oh! The thinks you can think up
If only you try” -- Dr Seuss
It is true what Dr Seuss had said. If only we try to think, we can think of so many things, in different dimensions and beyond parameters and across boundaries. And that is what sparks creativity.
Twenty first century has seen a boost in creativity in our country, we believe. Businesses -- like event management firms, bakeries or advertisement agencies -- which previously, generally speaking, found comfort in the age-old ways of doing things, are now pushing their boundaries and trying to be more creative.
Of course, Bangladesh has always been very creative. There is no reason to think otherwise of a land whose weavers (to mention just one example) have been weaving the fine, fabulous Jamdani for countless generations.
Despite that, it is safe to say that Bangladesh has taken big leaps forward in terms of generating creative products and services in the recent years. Adding value through creativity is nowadays of supreme importance. Television commercials (TVCs) are a prime example.
Asiatic 3 Sixty is one of the leading communications company. It is more than just an advertising agency, offering a complete solution to all communication needs, be it advertising, public relations, printing, audiovisual production, etc.
Sara Zaker, the managing director, is also a theatre and television actor and a social activist. Being in the creative field for a long time, she understands the changing dynamics well.
“Previously, most advertisements used to follow a few simple formulas, like the song-and-dance routine. There was nothing very original or creativity in many of the ads,” recollects Zaker. “But nowadays, many TVCs evoke emotions, be it through portraying patriotism, the bond between a mother and a child or of that between friends. Other than the ones with emotional appeal, there are now many ads focusing on wit and humour too.”
Increase in competition may be argued to be one of the factors that has contributed to this trend. When there are several brands competing in the market, the need for distinguishing your brand from that of your competitors' is of course vital.
This naturally gives rise to the need for originality. “You may want to do something unusual; then, you have to think in a different way. Lateral thinking is important if you want to create something out-of-the-box,” she says.
Lateral thinking or creating something out-of-the-box is of course not easy. Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, producer/director, Half Stop Down, believes that one of the reasons why there has been a boost in creativity in the TVCs is because of the fact that a lot of highly talented and brilliant people have joined the corporate sector and the world of advertising.
“Since the last couple of decades or so, many students began studying business and joining the corporate sector or the advertising field. On the other hand, many brilliant students with a degree in engineering have also boldly landed in such jobs,” observes Reza. “As a portion of the cream of the human resources is now working in such sectors, creativity and originality will of course come about.”
Reza also feels that the ad agencies and the advertisers nowadays patronise creative works and understand the value of creativity, thus providing audiences with wonderful ads.
Of course, advertising is not the only field where creativity has become second nature. It spans across various kinds of businesses.
Take for example, the advent of wedding planners. Matrimonial ceremonies are in no way less hectic and demanding than any other event. Even at the end of the twentieth century, families would not consider hiring a wedding planner. But they are now in demand, providing you with fabulous and awe-inspiring ceremonies -- from innovative stage designs to wonderful floral arrangements to theme-based weddings. A lot of emphasis is put on aesthetics.
The Flourist is an online bakery shop that opened in 2013. It offers delicacies such as cakes, tarts, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies, etc. Saria Tasnim Ahmed, the owner, provides her own creative twist. The products look superbly enticing, gorgeous and strikingly beautiful.
After she studied French Patisserie and Basic Cuisine in the London campus of Le Cordon Bleu, a prestigious and world famous culinary and hospitality institution, Saria came back to Dhaka and eventually started this venture. Saria imports many of the ingredients from abroad.
Consumer expectations have increased. “Due to media exposure and globalisation, people are more demanding than ever. Knowledge among the consumers is now very high; you cannot fool your client,” Saria tells. “Consumers are savvier, and you must be able to meet their high expectations.”
Indeed, exposure to various media is a prime reason why the demand for creative, premium and aesthetically superior products has increased so much.
The internet has contributed a lot. It has raised consumer expectations, since the medium has opened our eyes to a world of limitless options, choices, preferences, ideas and inspirations -- consequently amplifying our expectations from businesses and service providers.
Moreover, the last decade has seen a rise of 'online entrepreneurs'. Businesses as varied as food delivery services to digital marketplaces have sprang up. “Entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that is prevalent in our country,” Zaker opines. “Add to that the explosion in internet usage and digital and social media. So, a generation of entrepreneurs have embraced this trend, opening up creative ventures.”
More and more people are opting out for creative professions, be it by becoming an entrepreneur or by working for a company that fosters creativity. Reza said, “There are people who want to be different, who seek to leave their mark on the world. They want to be unique, and they want their own identity. Out of this desire, many people are now pursuing a career where creativity is the key.”
Despite everything, the notion of being creative ought not to be restricted to those people who are doing the so-called 'creative jobs'. Every job has a scope for creativity. Every output engineered becomes better by providing creative input.
Creativity is everywhere. And an interesting thing about creativity is that it has the ability to spread from one person/organisation to the other: if one brand in an industry becomes creative, others must become creative too in order to survive. This is probably what happened in Bangladesh.
As Albert Einstein once noted, “Creativity is contagious. So pass it on.”
ART: POET BY GOUTAM CHAKRABORTY
WATERCOLOUR ON PAPER, 2015
The writer is a Feature Writer, Star Lifestyle, The Daily Star. Special thanks to Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, producer/director, Half Stop Down, Sara Zaker, managing director, Asiatic 3 Sixty and Saria Tasnim Ahmed, owner, The Flourist for providing valuable insights for the write-up.