In March 2020, a few of my colleagues and I stood in the CK kitchen and made predictions as to when we’d return to work on the 13th floor of the Commonwealth Building. I scoffed when my friend suggested it could be at least two months.
Two and a half years later, we’ve only just returned to the office, and only for one day a week. The pandemic has changed office work, perhaps for good. And I should start getting used to it. But my work is creative, and a key piece of that process has always been collaboration. By the end of 2021, after nearly two years of working at home alone, I was feeling burned out and creatively drained.
However, 2022 brought some new inspiration in the form of “Rethink the Drink,” a campaign we’d been developing for the Oregon Health Authority to address excessive drinking in the state. After nearly two years, we were finally ready to produce the creative for this first-of-its-kind campaign.
Always in the back of our minds while developing the campaign was the specter of COVID. In our research we found alarming increases in drinking during the pandemic, an inevitable coping mechanism for the stress and isolation experienced in the last two years. We tapped into these experiences and emotions, often very personally, to connect with our broad audience. For the first time in my career, I saw myself in our characters.
This kind of catharsis is rare in our field. Fulfillment comes from the good work we do, for good causes. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, but at the end of the day you’ve left the world a little better off than you found it.
Yet, with “Rethink the Drink” these two elements came together: a campaign from our hearts that Oregonians need now more than ever. I think it’s the best work I’ve been a part of during my tenure at Coates Kokes, and I hope the passion we’ve put into it inspires people to examine the role alcohol plays in all of our lives.