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Opinion: Business as Best as We Can

Pictured: Eamon-Fitzpatrick, MD IPG Mediabrands Ireland

Continuing our weekly series about adland in lockdown, Eamon Fitzpatrick, MD of IPG Mediabrands says its more about ‘business as best we can’ rather than business as usual.

The phrase “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” has never been more apt. In only a matter of weeks our lives have been upended. Daily routines that were set in stone have had to be abandoned and quickly replaced with new ones we hadn’t previously considered. (To prove the point, I’m writing this having just completed a virtual 8 Minute Abs Workout that’s part of our team Health and Wellbeing programme.)

Reflecting the seismic changes taking place in the economy, the World of Work has changed dramatically. We’re working remotely as if it’s something we’ve always done while Zoom, Teams and WFH have quickly become part of our new vocabulary.

From my perspective, there are three things to keep front of mind:

  • Though appalling, this current situation is Temporary, and it will END
  • The Recovery WILL come
  • We are all in this together – colleagues, clients and industry partners and friends. In such a competitive business never has the need to be collegiate been more important

So, the IPG Mediabrands philosophy is simple. It’s not “Business as Usual” – too much has changed for that cliché to be true. However, it’s about “Business as Best We Can” working as seamlessly as possible, producing relevant campaigns that connect with consumers and being sensitive to the needs of client’s, colleagues and industry friends. We miss our formers lives and look forward to their rapid return.

For clients, we’re being as supportive and useful as possible for their business, providing them with the data, insights and tools needed to navigate and understand the market and its likely impact on consumer behaviour.

And while there’s lots of data around, translating its implications is one of the best ways we serve clients.

In the past few weeks and working with their teams both Sylvia Cawley at Initiative and Alan Daly at UM are producing weekly insight client reports that help make sense of the market and point to where the future might lie.

Authored by our Insights Manager Gary Colton, these track the rapid changes happening in society and translate what they mean for brands.  To give an even fuller picture he’s also tracking key industry sectors and the likely effects of the “New Normal”.

With several clients where our Dublin office is their EMEA hub, we’re very connected to international colleagues and markets via our global network of offices. And belonging to one of the world’s biggest communications firms makes a difference – we’re plugged in directly to what’s happening around the world and how markets and sectors are reacting – that’s a valuable perspective for us to share.

Transitioning to Remote Working

The transition to remote working has been remarkably smooth. Several weeks ago, we had a day where everyone worked from home and we got to test the resilience of our network and subsequently work out any glitches. To maintain a sense of continuity, all our internal and client management and reporting processes remained in place. Thanks to Microsoft Teams, the only difference is that these are now virtual rather than in-person.

Campaigns continue apace and the ingenuity displayed by both agency and clients to deliver these in the face of considerable logistical obstacles, has been impressive to witness (we’re back to my point about Necessity being the Mother of Invention).

Team Assets

JFK’s father, Joseph Kennedy famously said “The trouble with agencies is the assets go home every evening”. As for the assets and our team here, what can I say? Like every other MD in the industry I’m daily reminded that ultimately this is a talent business. What I’m seeing are people thriving with a challenge, working collaboratively to deliver their best work, all the while looking out for each other and their clients.

We’re known for having a great team spirit and I’m very keen to maintain that even if we’re currently not based in the office. Caroline in HR has been doing trojan work with senior managers and input from everyone devising planned schedules of team activity in the coming months.

Apart from regular virtual coffees and virtual drinks on Friday, we’ve got a system where we encourage people to reach out to other colleagues not necessarily working in their teams to see how they’re getting on & the same with clients.

In April we’ve got a Health and Wellness themed programme including virtually exercising with 8 Minute Abs, High Intensity Interval Training, Yoga and Cookery Demonstrations

And perhaps the best piece of advice I’ve had is from my son Dara who reminded me about Boundaries. As a result, he’s policing my laptop shutting down at 7pm daily – that’s one habit I’m going to try keep long after Covid-19 is a memory.

Eamon Fitzpatrick is Managing Director of IPG Mediabrands Ireland