No business plan could have prepared the ad world for what 2020 would have in store. The spread of coronavirus has forced business plans to change, campaigns to shift (or shut down) and workflows to adapt to a new normal.
“It’s difficult to imagine a harder time in recent history than this moment right now,” says Brett Channer, CEO of Mass Minority. “What the data is telling us is that people are feeling overwhelmed: from a booming economy to a shut-down economy in days—marketers are dumbfounded.” With global shares taking a dive, and plans to reopen the economies on shaky ground, the path forward for businesses is unclear. “Do nothing and risk losing what you have, do the wrong thing and also face the risk of losing what you have,” says Channer.
Last month, we checked in with leaders from the Amp community to see how they were adjusting to the gut punch thrown at the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic. In part two, they share their best practices for how to forge ahead in the new normal.
Adapting to a changing economic landscape
From a creative standpoint, what may have resonated with audiences pre-COVID no longer works today. “We had a film ready to air, but it featured a lot of handshakes—not exactly the right gesture for an ad at the moment,” says Luca Lorenzini, co-founder and executive creative director at Small. “If six months ago someone had told us it was inappropriate to show people shaking hands, we'd have thought this person was crazy.”
Without a defined end in sight, agency leaders are focusing on what they can control. “There really isn’t an answer to weathering this storm yet: We don’t know how long it will last, or how long society will take to re-engage with brands at 2019 levels,” says Parks Blackwell, PMG’s VP of marketing and client development. “We are adopting creative ways to increase our success coming out of the situation by doubling down on strategic initiatives that we’ve long put on the backburner”—including the now-ubiquitous strategy, not just for agencies but for businesses in general, of suspending all non-critical hiring, temporarily freezing capital investments and strictly controlling spending.