Be visible. Why 2020 has made silence impossible.

Creativity in the time of Covid: Part 3. Follow these links to see Part 1 and Part 2

Dichotomy. It’s one word to describe 2020. 

It’s Groundhog Day for many, yet each morning we awake expecting the world to be slightly different.

Amidst this uncertainty, how can your brand connect with customers while OK today, looks out of touch tomorrow?

You can pivot, to show your agility. The fashion industry stepped up / got a head start by making PPE. It’s made heroes of some, but it will be interesting to see the long tail as PPE ‘floods our ocean’.

You can support, to show your commitment. Diageo have just launched a $100m ‘Raising the Bar’ recovery fund to help pubs and bars welcome customers back. Such acts will be remembered.

You can improvise, to surprise and delight. Guinness came up with this novel use of undrunk beer from closed pubs – fertilising Christmas trees. Just imagine the ad campaign when those trees are delivered to pubs around Ireland.

You can be honest, to show your humanity. Our very own Tamara Littleton did so recently, expressing her pride in being “one of very few out, lesbian CEOs”, and how inclusive our agency is. She balanced this however, with honesty around what more can be done. For us, this means increasing representation of BAME talent at every level while ensuring equal support and experience throughout any career with us.

What’s clear is that as a brand, doing nothing isn’t an option.

People can forget about brands they don’t hear from. They can also replace them by others more active in their hour of need.

Campaign recently united a number of senior brand managers to outline the importance of action.

Jill Dougan, Marketing Director, British Gas says; “Brands going dark during the Covid crisis have probably made a mistake. Getting back to growth is going to be even harder if you’ve gone AWOL”.

Margaret Jobling, Group CMO, Centrica added, “…going completely dark makes it even more expensive when you do want to come back, so it costs you more in the long run”. 

In a year where we’ve all had to reassess what’s important, people now expect brands to either celebrate their purpose or find one.

Said Lubomira Rochet, Chief digital officer, L’Oréal; “Today’s advertising is taking a stand, it is also getting more real.” [We] need to reinvent the advertising language and grammar to embrace fundamental demands from our consumers: authenticity, sincerity, transparency and emotional decency”.

These values, however, should be close to your customers’ values.

Mars knows all about this, having recently announced they will change their Uncle Ben character. 

Andy Pharoah, VP of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, revealed; “We need to be very close to the consumer. The consumer is our boss. We’ve always looked for marketing that truly connects and what became increasingly apparent is that purpose was incredibly important”.

Successfully aligning your values will go a long way to ensuring trust. 

According to a new research by Edelman, 70% of those interviewed said trusting a brand “is more important today than in the past – a shared belief among age groups, gender and income”. The reason, said 81%, was personal vulnerability (around health, financial stability, and privacy), while 74% also pointed to a brand’s impact on society.

Trust, respondents then revealed, can lead to loyalty: “75% of people with high brand trust say they will buy the brand’s product even if it isn’t the cheapest, it is the only brand of the product they’ll buy, and they will immediately check out a new product from that brand to purchase”.

Nothing is certain. But being open, and focusing on what unites us may well be a brand’s best way to stay part of the conversation.

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