Earlier this week, the Marketing Society held and online discussion around the theme ‘The Brand Impact of Covid19.’ The panel of speakers included included Rosemary Garth, Irish Distillers; Richard Colwell, RedC; Geraldine O’Leary, RTE; Andy Pierce, Core and Clíona Hayes, Indeed.com. Chairing the discussion was advertising and media expert Peter McPartlin who summarises some of the key takeaways for Adworld.
“There can be no return to normal, because normal was the problem in the first place.” (Anonymous)
This piece of wisdom came from graffiti on a wall in Hong Kong and perhaps is an apt summary of what many are feeling right now. The Corona-virus has steamrollered over so much, taken loved ones and ruined livelihoods, but also emptied our lives of unnecessary chaff and re-ordered what should really matter to us.
Earlier this week I chaired a really interesting online discussion for the Marketing Society with a panel of experts from across the Irish marketing spectrum. All of them shared their observations, experiences and advice on how customers and enterprises are managing during this crisis.
Here’s what I took from it.
We market to people, not machines
The world as we knew it before has changed and it is very difficult to predict what way the Covid-19 crisis is going to play out. Things are moving at viral speed, there is no rule-book and all of the crystal balls are broken anyway.
But it was clear to me that the crisis is a timely reminder that we market to people, not machines. Covid-19 is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis, but we will also need to have a sustainable economy when it recedes.
Alongside our larger corporate employers, there are hundreds of small and medium enterprises which the local economy depends upon, and they will need to have sufficient cash flow to enable them to trade when restrictions are lifted. Workers will need to be supported to ensure they and their families have the wherewithal to spend again.
And because we may not be able to rely on the levels of foreign direct investment that we’ve enjoyed up to now, we will need to develop new plans to reignite our export sector.
Hold your nerve, back brave and invest for the recovery.
As marketing and communications people, we need to respond appropriately. We need to persuade our companies and our clients to hold their nerve and invest for the recovery. We have to convince brand owners and investors that this is not the time for standing still. But we also need to provide them with evidence to show how to protect their brand equity by investing in the right level and the right type of communications.
A chance to change the often negative perception of marketing
The mood of society is solidarity in adversity – so brand and corporate messaging needs to sensitive and relevant. And this is not just about advertising but also about also about corporate behaviour.
As marketers, we have an historic chance to add genuine value to people’s lives, to add momentum to our economic recovery and to change the often negative perception of marketing as a shallow profession.
As one commentator said recently … “”This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.”
Stay safe, but not in your approach to marketing.