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ROUND UP: Persevering in times of change


Even in these most challenging times, it’s been encouraging to see the many ways brands, agencies and organizations have adapted and persevered every day.

So many did what they could to help out — whether that be through offering supplies and resources or supporting the many small businesses that have struggled as a result of the lockdown.

If anything, our industry is having to rely on its creativity and innovation more than ever. We wanted to share a few highlights here.


We’re In This Together

There was a huge need to get the word out about vital information relating to the coronavirus. We saw so many brands do their part to creatively address the pandemic and promote social distancing. As marketers were shifting their messaging to be more mission and cause-related, Netflix offered a message of hope to an industry out of work.

Many brands pivoted, donated their products and services or found ways to give back. Other brands getting it right did what they could by offering free resources or relief funds. Several took a crisis management approach and responded with meaningful actions.

We love the creative ways brands were able to stay relevant in their customer’s new normal. From enhancing their new digital life with backdrops for Zoom meetings (West Elm) and augmented beauty lenses (L’Oreal) to stay-at-home entertainment ideas such as building a living room fort (Ikea) or a rather difficult puzzle to keep you occupied (Heinz). kept the wedding spirit alive by offering couples a virtual big day. Walmart partnered with networking app Nextdoor to facilitate neighbors helping neighbors in need of support.


How You Can Help

Support of small businesses has been widespread. While Google offered funding and resources, American Express established the ‘Stand for Small’ coalition, with over 40 companies providing support like expense management and logistics advice.

Agency creatives used their talents to help local establishments create original illustrated merchandise to sell. Our friends at Kindred asked that brands continue to support local journalism with a conscientious media spend and smart giving.

Sites such as the Dining Bond Initiative and Dining at a Distance rallied to help local restaurants, while Stella Artois said cheers to future good times to raise money for them. Chefs used their recipes to help restaurants and their workers stay afloat by creating a digital cookbook with proceeds going to ROAR and the Robin Hood Foundation. Recipes for Relief is a similar fund-raising initiative by a recipe tool for chefs that delayed their launch and quickly pivoted to help.

Many brands and restaurants rallied to support our front-line workers with everything from meals, coffee, shoes and other supplies. While Lowe’s encouraged DIY projects to thank essential workers, the Ad Council put digital OOH inventory to good use with their “out there for us” campaign featuring the music of Alicia Keys. You can go to their site to watch the film or to send your own “thank you”.


A New Landscape

While many advertisers have canceled or paused their campaigns, those who haven’t are reworking them. But as marketing strategies are being re-evaluated, budgets are shifting, rather than being eliminated completely in an attempt to address the new at-home consumer.

Nielsen says keep calm and advertise on citing how reducing advertising now could have long term consequences. Meanwhile, studies show that it’s completely acceptable for brands to be communicating during this time and that consumers expect (and even want) the opportunity to engage.

Life under lockdown has had an unexpected boost on certain sectors such as gaming and e-sports to name a few. Other growth areas included Connected TV, which has seen an increase in programmatic ad revenue as consumers turn to streaming services for entertainment. Facebook recovered in April with steadier revenue, while YouTube surpassed expectations. For Pinterest, engagement has been at an all time high. While influencer marketing has been down, some experts believe it could lead to a potential rebirth.

Due to business closures and social distancing, digitally enabled journeys and experiences have been quickly embraced by customers. The fact that this will likely have lasting effects has forced the acceleration of digital transformation by many companies. Those that are able to use technology to keep going and rethink their business model by fast-tracking digital will be the ones to stay ahead.


Finding a Way Forward

Uncharted territory gives us the opportunity to experiment with different strategies, discover new missions, and put people first. Some new lessons are emerging that may live long beyond the moment.

While it’s heartening to see early signs of the U.S. economy coming back to life, we can expect our recovery to be one of ups and downs. We’re all going to have a different journey in how we experience it and how it impacts us. As marketers, we need to act with intention, but most importantly we need to be human.


However you find your way forward in our new normal, we hope you’ll stay safe and healthy.

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