Opportunity in Adversity & Marketing Post Covid-19 – Flock 333


As part of our 333 series, we ask three marketing experts, three questions, in a three minute read, this time we wanted to know about how to accelerate growth post Covid-19, and what role agencies should play.

We asked three questions to an expert panel below and their answers follow.

Jeremy Bevan
Cisco, VP Global Segments and Industry Marketing
Laura Forcetti
World Federation of Advertisers Global Lead, Marketing Sourcing
Annette King
Publicis UK, CEO

Clearly many internal and external marketing projects will be paused during the Covid-19 crisis but are there any projects that could or should be accelerated?

JB – The Covid-19 situation has forced everyone to re-think how they live, work and connect with each other using digital and virtual ways to do this. Even though we have all been digitally ‘transformed’ over the last decade this is probably the biggest acceleration in the use of video and digital technologies in people’s lives. I believe there is a second wave of behavioral change across society that will be permanent as a result. For marketeers and agencies – this will inevitably push the need even further for innovation, and for making purposeful, creative, authentic and meaningful connections with people.

AK – We’re working with our clients to expedite projects that deliver against short-term needs while planning for the new ‘normal’ when it arrives. I believe the way we behave now will shape our businesses for decades to come. That’s why we’ve developed and accelerated a brand neutral idea, Shop Responsibly, responding to the shift in the way people are shopping for FMCG brands. The campaign is just one way we are uniting our clients and other brand owners from across the industry to encourage consumers to be more considerate in their consumption.

LF – Again, quite hard to predict and each organisation may have different goals to achieve, but I believe any projects in the digital transformation space – e.g. programmatic media, Dynamic Creative Optimisation, e-commerce, data management… will very likely see some degree of acceleration. That said, my advice here would be to keep your sang-froid and avoid panic tech buying. It’s essential to have a clear strategy in place driven by long-term objectives. I’m pretty confident that strategic marketing procurement practitioners could help in this area too.

Thinking ahead past Covid-19 and the disruption it is causing, what could be a positive impact for marketers and agencies?

JB Physical marketing events have been a huge casualty in the fallout created by the COVD-19 crisis. However, there has already been some incredible examples of re-thinking how you can still reach your audiences. It started with ‘turning events into virtual events’ but has quickly morphed into re-thinking how the stories and content you want to showcase at your events can be communicated in new ways. By integrating more thoughtfully into carefully targeted campaigns, giving consideration to re-telling those stories in different formats including video and social media activations, and staying connected with customers through orchestrated human (via phone and video) and digital connections. In many ways, the answer is to make sure you are not pausing the conversations with your customers – but staying connected with them, potentially in new ways, and staying engaged in a way that makes sense for them.

AK – Almost overnight, the world has changed. Not only do we face the biggest global health crisis of our lifetimes, we’re also probably facing a global recession, and as marketers, we have a responsibility to step up on a number of fronts. We’ve seen some incredible responses from businesses, whether that’s supermarkets opening their doors early for the elderly, vulnerable and NHS workers, or companies repurposing their production lines to produce hand sanitiser, ventilators and other much needed supplies. There’s an opportunity for marketers to work within their organisations, and agencies to help their clients, to use creativity to bring about positive change. Now is the time for bold, brave ideas and that’s a challenge that we, as agencies and marketers, should embrace.

LF – These testing times are getting all of us out of our comfort zone. We are forced to challenge our routine and plans, to prioritise what’s critical and what really matters. Most of us can’t predict what tomorrow will bring. More than ever, it’s time to focus on relationships and try to help each other in the spirit of solidarity that this crisis has engendered. This may indeed be the most positive thing that comes out of Covid-19. Client and agency teams who have worked hard together might well come out stronger on the back of this. Those who are partnering now and in the next 10 weeks, may well remember this point for the next 10 years. And I see a great opportunity for marketing procurement leaders in enabling some of these discussions

Whilst many agencies may be severely impacted by the current situation how best can they help their clients?

JB – Agencies can certainly play a key role in helping their clients to navigate new and different ways to connect and stay connected with their customers. They should help to provide the ‘market view’, the best examples of where customers are innovating to best effect, and the best ways of communicating and being sensitive to the ever changing and unfolding situation around us all.

AK – Our clients are facing extraordinary pressures, and they need us to help them navigate this uncharted territory. Agencies can appeal to our clients to work together, across competitor lines, to be a force for good within society. We’ve asked our people to stay close to their clients and to listen like they’ve never listened before. Our Power of One country model means that we are optimised to be ready, with the ability to be integrated, and more agile than ever, creating multi-disciplinary teams that help our clients grow in new ways, and more efficiently.

LF – Each client-agency relationship is unique and with different objectives so there may not be a single way to respond here. We often recommend that our members be proactive and get in touch with their external partners to explore alternative strategies. But I do believe it’s a two-way street. Agencies can also be proactive and come up with solutions. Agencies may have some capabilities that their clients are not aware of or haven’t explored yet so maybe it’s time to pull these ‘new’ skills out and test them out…?

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