The Corona Effect – Episode I


Marketers will be looking for new ways to touch people’s lives while brands seek empathy to avoid reputational damage. Inspirational agencies can help with creative ideas but must think and act quickly.

To take the lead in your market consider one or more of the following suggestions:


Advertising & Content

Help clients redefine what it means to be a social brand today. Distancing is the new practice yet if your advertising messages feature human interaction, try to adjust content. “Finger licking good” claims to express great taste are No Go’s now. Instead make your clients tell us what they are doing to help humanity. Shift the focus to attitude and service, from selling to caring, from stores to homes, from units to people.

And if brick and mortar shops are closed, create virtual experiences so that your client is seen to be alive. The CMO Council of America published a report lamenting that businesses are not ready with Content that can Convert. They have advice on the top 10 essentials for effective leadership-driven content marketing. If shoppers abstain, this is critical. Ask us for a download of this paper.


New Products

In midst this crisis WPP Australia launched a New Product Company called Big. It suggests agencies will enter product creation. Germany’s Kolle Rebbe already struck gold with their range of “Stop the water while using me”. The formula was simple: the agency contributed idea and creative work for 50% of the shares in the start-up. During the 2008 financial crisis, Hyundai of America and its agency created a new insurance product: they returned full price if buyers lost their job within 3 months. On March 14, 2020 Hyundai brought back their Assurance Job Loss Protection but for six months. Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) designed a billboard that created clean drinking water from atmospheric humidity. The university fought an enrolment slump and attracted young people by showing them what engineering could do. Consider investing in your clients to drive innovation.


The Elderly

Not only are they at a higher risk but if they live in retirement homes visitors cannot come inside. They effectively live in a prison but even prisoner can be visited. Install real “prison visitor boxes” so relatives can come. Find a sponsor and be assured that this will make you a hero. Footballer Ronaldo announced March 15 that he is converting his two hotels into hospitals. A humanitarian dead of great proportions and better than ROI or other KPIs. Not all can afford to donate but you can imagine how you might feel and what you would like. It all starts in the head.


Media Usage & Investment

When media space supply exceeds demand, prices fall and ROI from advertising increases. This is typical for any recession. The combination of low prices and weak competition gives companies a unique opportunity to grow recognition share effectively. As people stay home, home entertainment peaks. TV ratings have surged; so, if you offer media planning, consider changing schedules from OOH to in-home. Off prime time are great media buys in times like this. And digital is where people read the news because it is the fastest medium. Are your clients’ brands in all digital channels? When digital is the only path your customers can walk on, Google is your best friend. SEO and SEA can lead the way. Are you brave? Take an option on OOH media and negotiate special prices that you sell-on with a profit when bans are lifted. A gamble? The wine business calls it buying on subscription.

And the recession formula is still intact: Over 90% of companies will stop communication until the dust settles. Yet research has proven time and again that firms which cut their marketing spend during a recession typically see sales and income declines in double digits. If your client has brands that are worth advertising, now is the time to spend and emerge a winner. The fast learning Chinese are following this advice: total ad spend is forecast to grow by 3,9% in 2020 with mobile and digital leading the rebound. Staying close to clients now will help your own recovery.


Novel Home Delivery Services

Sales of products surge that do not require leaving home. Gaming and on-line betting is one such industry. Mail orders are another. When the Sars virus hit Asia in 2003, Alibaba was born. Amazon is now raffling off gift coupons worth 50 €.
Think about creating a new service that helps your clients to deliver products to the door. Recruit companies to join which are not clients of your agencies and create a new collective budget. If your client has its own delivery system, why not add on complimentary products to safe cost? Think of it as a new business tool for the agency with an unstoppable momentum that will outlive Corona.
Onto food delivery: “Dark kitchens” are being set up in disused buildings or shipping containers as cheap kitchen extensions for quick delivery. Subscription food services, paying a weekly, monthly, or even annual fee have emerged; they cap the extra cost of delivery and put more money into the actual food. But subscription fatigue threatens this streaming business model. Another issue is waste packaging. Now is the time to develop eco-friendly packaging ideas.


Pop Up Stores

Is it a stupid idea to create a shop when people are forced to stay home? Is it? Think of this: as mail order surges, so will returns. Many products returned are shredded as that is cheaper than sending them back to the manufacturer. Why not re-route the return traffic to your Pop-Up store where you can sell it at a profit? Join forces with a client open to benefit from untried ideas.


Events & Fairs

Augmented reality may be an answer for the future. South by Southwest could not be saved that way but how about a regional fair? Today, VR solutions exist that allow people to participate in big events with their smart phone and a carton pair of glasses. You could sell tickets to a virtual show where visitors experience the benefits of products or services online. Collect the addresses and follow up. Generate for your clients what is the new gold in marketing: names and interests.
Local sports clubs are selling solidarity tickets to weather the loss of spectator seats in stadiums. Retailers can sell coupons for when stores reopen and contribute a portion to a local community. Remember, companies that invest grow sales when others cut back.

Stay well, avoid crowds but not clients.


March 16, 2020

© This document is the Intellectual Property of CommUnity International. Contact us if you wish to use or distribute it. / © picture: Curtesy of Rodolphe Muller de Schongar


What’s next:

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