What Does A COVID-19 Vaccine Mean For Marketers?


Unless you have been on 24/7 Zoom calls every marketer will have seen the promising early results of Covid vaccine clinical trials.

So, what does the potential vaccine mean for marketers?

In our work with world-leading advertisers we are well-placed to see how many categories have reacted in the past few days. And, in our work with Agencies on pitches and Get Fit exercises and Agency Appraisals we have also seen first-hand how many of the agencies have reacted.

We’ve summarized our consultants thoughts here.

No immediate change.

Unless you are one of the Pharma companies, in government or healthcare communication there is little immediate change. Marketers and agencies will still be working virtually, and their marketing plans reflect their countries/regions level of lockdown. Retail & Hospitality of course are the most sensitive categories to different restrictions, and therefore their marketers’ plans are very different dependent upon the restrictions in place.

At Flock we’ve been helping improve their virtual ways of working, building agile marketing processes, and the ability to create Squads to tackle the ever-changing new environment.  

It may get worse before it gets better.

Despite the excitement of the prospect of some relief, the fact is that in many countries cases are rising, more severe lockdowns are occurring, and the economies (especially Travel and Hospitality) are hard hit.

With job losses and Seasonal holiday festivity revenues impacted, many clients are aggressively increasing their cost reduction programs looking especially at media, sponsorship, and Production as priority areas for re-assessment.

Other advertisers are reassessing whether in-house agencies may work for them in a virtual world. So, whilst many agency groups have performed better than forecast, some are rather wishfully predicting a “bounce back”.  The  agencies are reliant on sustained marketing expenditure and the structural changes to marketing, and competitive threat from implementational Consultancies continues. Neither of these are working in the Agency Group’s favour. It may yet prove a long winter for agencies.

At Flock we’ve several projects looking at overall Agency Ecosystem efficiency, Media and Production. Many are designed with plan for a new permanent structural efficiency, not just a short term cut, or one off gain.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. But what can marketers do now to prepare?

The news of vaccines gives a sense of hope that there will be an end, at some point, to this terrible chapter in our world. The possibility of hope, or at least the restoration of it, will bode powerfully in the minds of consumers, and therefore, brands. So as we see a slow creep of norms hopefully restore, what can marketers do with their time now as we inch toward a more normal existence?

For those marketers having to plan longer-term, and who have budget flexibility, media rates have reduced this year to new levels. Companies like P&G have proactively invested in long term brand building taking advantage of lower media costs, and media groups’ need for cash. Have you assessed your rates?

Some Entertainment & Gaming businesses are busy in this largely locked-down world, and companies are aggressively acquiring and promoting new franchises. The eagerly awaited new X-Box and Playstation, and their virtual launches will be of interest to all categories. For example, what can automotive learn from these launches?

Technology business too are seeing rapid demand in the surge of virtual workplaces. Our work with Cisco, SAP, Microsoft has given us even greater understanding of the skills, processes, technology and data that can be employed to drive rapid growth through personalization.

For those business with a strong e-commerce platform, many are quickly looking to build a 1st party data-set, drive revenues, and build new skills.  Do you have a strong 1st party data strategy, and do you have the skills to grow e-commerce.

In healthcare and some other CPG categories there is change in consumer habits that marketers are trying to make permanent. There is a great learning to be had from those categories & brands that are building new activities to meet new demand (through better NPD processes), attract new users, (with engaging upper funnel activity) and retain new consumers (through loyalty programs). What have you learned from these businesses, and how can you make the learrning relevant to your business?  


Whilst for many marketers things may remain tough for a while to come, many transformative marketers are changxzing much of what they do to survive now, and in a world beyond COVID. If you would like to share your experiences and hear of some of our client work, and how it may be of help to you, don’t hesitate to let us know and we can arrange a 20 minute virtual, informal “ideas swap”.