As cold and flu season hits and winter sets in, for the first time in 16 years Codral will not be encouraging us to soldier on with our busy lives. Not surprisingly given the pandemic, the 2020 campaign for this iconic cold and flu brand sees a major pivot driving flu sufferers to soldier on at home.
Before now, it has seemed almost insulting to encourage flu sufferers to stay home and do nothing other than get better. We’re busy people, and busy people are important people! We can’t simply pull up the doona, sip hot lemon drinks and be seen to have time to rest and recover.
Being ‘busy’ has, for the best part of the last decade, been a status symbol – arguably more so than affluence, a large real estate portfolio or even royal ancestry. Bellezza, Paharia and Keinan noted in their 2016 article “Conspicuous Consumption of Time: When Busyness and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol” that individuals perceived to be the most busy were associated with highly desirable human characteristics of competence, ambition and importance.
So, if your response to the innocent question of “how are you?” was anything less than “crazy busy”, “slammed” or “I have no time” then you’d be forgiven for feeling there was something wrong or something missing in your life. If your phone wasn’t constantly pinging and your calendar full of meetings, appointments, volunteering, personal training and more, then a self-perception that you were failing – especially compared to your busy friends and colleagues – was perfectly understandable.
But COVID19, social distancing and enforced isolation has changed all that. It’s stripped our lives pretty much bare. And let’s face it, all this newfound enthusiasm for baking, jigsaws or ZOOMba is not only mildly annoying, but an obvious attempt to fill the void.
Many behavioural scientists are claiming this marks the decline of consumerism and our addiction to over-filling our calendars and our cupboards as we learn to appreciate downtime and a bit of space.
If this is so, where will we find our new social bragging rights?
Will we finally embrace JOMO and seek higher order in “selectively engaging”? Will time out will be more highly-prized than time on? Will the ‘richest’ amongst us break free from the cult of busyness to seek a well-ordered way of life with time to think, relax and dream?
Imagine it now. When asked “what are you up to this weekend” the most impressive responses come from those that say “making sure I maintain my 8 hours sleep a night” or “needle-craft” as opposed to a long list of brunches, bands and bevvies with mates.
Advertising both influences and reflects social norms so will we see a shift in our focus from away from the endless stream of busy mums, time poor millennials, overworked thirty pluses and retirees who refuse to slow down?
Perhaps we will see a retro shift back to advertising like that in the 1979 Cussons Imperial Leather TVC where rather than being beholden to his success, the affluent businessman savors the freedom it brings while enjoying a leisurely bubble bath on a private jet next to his family!
Personally, I suspect post YOMO 2020 (Year of Missing Out), the cult of busyness will quickly resume as we make up for all the activities, adventures and experiences we have had to forego. But perhaps, just perhaps, we will also value our ‘busy’ currency a little less.