Just Curious - Ep. 18

Lockdown 2.0 vs. Strictly Come Dancing





Less than a year ago no one had ever put the word ‘social’ next to the word ‘distance’. The acronym, ‘PPE’ was familiar in professional circles, but unfamiliar to the rest of us.

Back in March 2020 with no, err precedent, we ventured into unknown territory. Our shops shut, or open with empty shelves; no coffee, salads or cakes; kitchen offices; Zoom calls; home schooling; going for walks; baking. New behaviours were being learned every day and we didn’t know when it was going to end. It was a fascinating, if not always enjoyable experiment. And it was undeniably real. The roads were silent. City centres ghost towns.

It was officially a lockdown.

But we told ourselves it was a temporary aberration – we were all planning back in the office and back to normal by September. I remember Emily Eavis saying the plans for a return to Glastonbury 2021 were well underway – a beacon of normality, of freedom - we could aim for. Now not so sure.

Then came ‘Lockdown 2.0TM. Over recent months it has acquired status in the national lexicon - one of those words destined for greatness as it is quickly adopted into everyday language. On the day of writing it was declared word of the year in the Collins Dictionary.



For the month of November, the government declared a month of Lockdown 2.0TM . We all know what it means now.

But it wasn’t like the authentic, original article of early 2020. The glossy new branded Lockdown 2.0TM isn’t raw with rough edges. It’s been cleaned up and given a lick of paint. Bars and restaurants closed but schools remained open; my Dad expected queues in the supermarket again – like a RTB, but they’ve sorted all that out and even toilet rolls were in good supply. The roads are busy. It’s normalised and feels acceptable.

Just as every London skyscraper acquires a moniker before it’s complete: Gerkin, Walkie Talkie, Cheesegrater etc, we’ve quickly created a vocabulary around the pandemic experience – and an innate desire to brand everything that helps explain New NormalTM, Unprecedented TimesTM, WFHTM

The Brits are world-class in this game. The enormous English vocabulary (the Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words) gives us a head-start, but the irrepressible desire to bottle ideas; to verbally engineer bizarre circumstances so they become accessible and engaging along with a profound understanding of irony and kitsch, so that even in deepest crisis a unique sense of identity is forged around the common experience.

As if on cue, Strictly Come Dancing returned to our screens. If ever a brand exemplified the nation’s response to the global pandemic… The brand with a target consumer aged 3-93 years; engaged and participating – check out the home videos of the Children in Need dance #strictlyCiN. Add the incredible Zoe Ball each weeknight and the proposition is complete.

Can a dance programme bring the nation together?


· Insight: people need an emotionally engaging experience to get behind and cheer for other people doing something really difficult

· Benefit: Shared moments together and people saying nice things about each other

· Reason to Believe: It’s is actually really, really difficult

The dreary Lockdown 2.0TM brand was never going to be the real thing. Hopefully it will be delisted soon.

Just saying...