Manifest Celebrates Creativity With a Series of ‘Creative Pushups’

By Kyle O'Brien 

The ad industry is good at burning people out, but the pandemic added an extra layer of anxiety to the mix—and that means that the creative process can occasionally get lost. Seeing burnout from creatives across the advertising and marketing industries, content marketing agency Manifest saw an opportunity to launch a program that would help their employees stretch their creative muscles.

What started as an internal exercise on a Slack channel, has now grown outside of the agency’s walls and spilled onto the internet for all creatives and would-be creatives to explore, as Manifest prepares to unveil its new mental workout called Creative Pushups.

Creative Pushups is a just-launched hub on LinkedIn to give people the chance to express themselves, break free from old patterns and—most notably—pump their brains full of fresh, innovative and stimulating ideas to get unstuck. It will feature mind-opening exercises, ideas and techniques that provide inspiration to those across marketing and creative fields.


“It originally was a genuine attempt to do something nice internally for the Manifest culture …we are becoming more and more of a creatively driven and obsessed agency. So then it behooves us to try to make everyone as creative and energetic as possible,” Manifest svp, intelligence Geoff Director told Adweek.

One of Manifest’s strategists had an idea to inspire creative energy and relief throughout the day, so the agency started a Slack channel to post creative challenges, exercises, brainstorming techniques and inspiration—and it drummed up a lot of interest and participation, with employees riffing off each other.

The agency was motivated by the concept that creativity is at the heart of everything in the ad world, but even in an industry driven by strong creative, people can get creatively stuck. According to a Gallup survey, 61% of employees say they’re expected to come up with creative ideas, but only 30% believe they are given enough time to be creative. In fact, only four out of 10 people even feel like they are creative, according to Adobe’s State of Creativity study.

“It’s about creating these little microcosms of creativity that are not a client brief, or business challenge … but letting copywriters doodle, having designers and performance marketers write haikus, we just made it entertaining and fun. The intent is to not just tell people go be creative, but to create an environment that helps them do that,” Manifest CEO Melissa Bouma told Adweek.

The agency decided to expand the offering to clients, other agencies and anybody else who wants to exercise their creative muscles outside of a work setting.

“We decided that we should make a community where we’re not always in competition with each other, but where we can just kind of exercise our craft together,” said Bouma.

Creative Pushups will live primarily on a LinkedIn showcase page. To encourage participation, Manifest will offer giveaways—unique access to thought leaders and notable influencers. For the content, Manifest strategist Dasha Ovsyannikova, who runs the project, will post techniques, inspiration and other content, plus exercises meant to be thought provoking and fun.

Those exercises include challenges like writing a haiku about your day, choosing which Zoom lingo would be the title of your autobiography, choose a line from a favorite song and identify the main emotion and then promote that emotion—and “rebrand Thanksgiving from a turkey’s point of view.”

Responses to the Thanksgiving Challenge from Creative Pushups.

In addition, Manifest will host a day-long classroom at a conference, Content Marketing World, coming up in September, which will have stations for creative push-ups that anyone who is in attendance can join and enjoy either in person or digitally.

“If this goes right, eventually, you’ll see long threads of hilarious and provocative thoughts. That will probably take a few weeks to get humming, but that is the vision,” said Director.