By Ant White, chief creative officer, CHE Proximity.
By now, like most of us, you’re probably a little sick of pandemic marketing. I know I wouldn’t mind a break from seeing encouraging messages from people in sweatpants, and selfie style angles. The need to process our myriad of feelings at the beginning of the crisis through reflection and reflective advertising felt right for the first handful of brands, until it became ‘we’re here for you’ wallpaper.
But heading into week eight of lockdown it’s time to smash the mirror and get back to what advertising does best – inspire, entertain and motivate. We need brands to show us the lives we want to live again, to help us feel something different, to create new ways for us to look at the world and above all to give us experiences and products that make us feel good. No more sweatpants.
Take Monday Shampoo, a brand that has filled up my Instagram these past weeks. Delivering us a cost effective, premium product in this year’s dusty pink pantone. Genius. They’ve tapped into the very essence of our current moment. Yes, we may be in sweats, but we still want to feel good, like we’ve been transported to the salon and for less money. Timing is everything, and there’s not a heartfelt UGC zoom endorsement in sight.
As marketers we cannot stop selling. We need to produce more, we need to sell more and we need to do our part to boost the economy. Like P&G, brands need to keep spending. Nielsen last week revealed that we’re watching about 60% more content than usual. So effectively, we require more content from brands, more entertainment and more creativity than ever.
Travis Scott went from losing his set at Coachella this year to performing to an audience of 16 million during Covid-19 as he tapped into the most growing gaming IP of today – Fortnite. The in-game event was viewed by far more people than could ever pack into even the largest concert venue and recorded the highest number of players ever. His performance, which was essentially a music video to launch his latest song, shows us how he has re-imagined entertainment, experience and e-commerce. This is reactive, relevant to the current climate, yet still on brand and will no doubt change the entertainment industry forever.
For me, the real winners of this crisis in marketing are staying true to themselves and being relevant. There are still opportunities for brands to change tact, but keeping true to their values and products. As Mark Ritson said the other week, do not throw away your well-crafted brand strategies. It is not the time to bandwagon or panic. It is the time to be more strategic, more thoughtful and listen to your customers more than you ever have before. We need brands to be brands.
Attica, one of the world’s best restaurants, has diversified to bring Australians Attica at home. Anyone who works with the restaurant industry will know that it is a ruthlessly tough business and can imagine it wasn’t an easy move for Ben Shewry to provide delivery when his restaurant experience is what he’s spent years crafting and curating. But they’ve demonstrated that by staying true to their values and meeting us where we are – at home, they’re surviving – and hopefully that $60 at home lasagne for two is here to stay.
Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next, when this will be over. Many of us are going to need assistance, and experts are predicting the unemployment rate will increase to 10% in Australia. With the highest rate in almost three decades, there are tough times ahead.
But, this doesn’t mean the next wave of marketing needs to feature people with less money, telling us that we all don’t have jobs, while wearing sweatpants. It may feel like the right thing to do, to capture the nation’s feeling but holding a mirror up when we’re looking to escape and reconnect is not going to guarantee survival. The ‘We can get through this’ brands are not the brands who are going to get us through Covid-19.
The brands that actively help us ‘get through this’, will be the brands that can get through anything, because they are resilient, smart and most importantly giving us what we need right now.