We have all experienced an unprecedented couple of weeks. We are strong, we have lived and experienced catastrophic events as a country before and we will get through this, too. During this time, we encourage each and every one of you to follow your local health authority’s direction and guidelines to keep each other and our health workers safe. The gratitude that we have for our doctors, nurses, and first responders is immeasurable; throughout this pandemic, we will be forever indebted to them, the work they are doing, and the sacrifices they are making to keep us healthy.
In stressful situations, whether it be with an internal deadline or a Client issue, we often banter that “we aren’t saving lives; that this is just advertising”, and this couldn’t be truer today. Our work pales in comparison to what is happening on the front lines to fight this pandemic. However, as a country, we are fighting two wars right now—the COVID-19 virus and a potential economic downturn. While we cannot make a difference on the front lines with the virus, we can do our very best to poise our Clients to be ready for battle when this is over, putting them in the very best position to win when they are faced with potential economic challenges.
Right now, it is everyone’s instinct to retreat. To wait and see. We understand that logic and share in your fear, anxiety, and the instinct to protect. Those emotions are driving a lot of the country right now. We are at a turning point—a fork in the road on how we move forward. And that decision will determine who is able to win the economic battle post pandemic. Those that can see past the fear and emotion and look towards the future will be able to survive this and look back on these times as tumultuous, difficult, and devastating, but also a memory and a lesson of survival.
While we have never experienced anything like what we are dealing with today, the Imaginuity team has managed Clients through numerous challenging times over the years, including:
- Telecom crash
- Dot.com crash
- Oklahoma City bombing
- September 11th
- Housing crisis of 2008
- Countless natural disasters: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires
As local governments begin voluntary quarantines, “social distancing”, and in some cities more drastic moves that include “shelter in place” and “mandatory lockdowns”, what can we do to maintain an offensive strategy during this crisis so that we are ready post pandemic?
With our customers “sheltered in place” and spending all of their time in home, we know they will be consuming awareness-based media at an all-time high. Our media team is watching the metrics around the clock and the data is telling us:
- Broadcast ratings are up and delivering unprecedented ratings—viewership is at an all-time high across all dayparts, with daytime and news leading the way.
- Time spent online is soaring—gaming and news being the sites that are seeing dramatic engagement:
- We are monitoring our Clients’ metrics and are seeing high engagement rates with web traffic and conversion metrics.
- This situation is not slowing down customers’ engagement with brands; right now, people seem to be taking advantage of the time they have at home.
- Direct Mail, if leveraged with the right messaging, can still be an effective channel to reach an “at home” consumer.
- With the local mandates to “shelter in place”, we are seeing drastic decreases in traffic counts with Out of Home media—people are simply not out to be able to view this channel:
- The recommendation is to shift any advertising dollars out of this channel into awareness-based channels like broadcast and digital.
What is our recommendation to get your business through this difficult and challenging time?
While we want to aim to be conservative to ensure we are thoughtfully preparing for what’s next, it’s important to maintain a strong market share presence through awareness-based media. The data tells us that when brands go dark, it takes between four to twelve weeks for a brand to come back into the market with the same share of voice. When this crisis is over, it will be critical for the survival of your brand to hit the market strong, and without a foundational market share presence, that will be difficult. You will be fighting a share-of-voice battle with every other competitor in your category. Staying a conservative course through this and leveraging awareness-based channels like broadcast and online will position your brand offensively to come back strong.
Despite the initial reaction to go into Survival mode and shut everything down in a crisis, the most successful organizations will take the approach to look outward for new opportunities. We are here to help you navigate these choppy waters and to prepare you for success once this crisis passes.
We hope you and your home and work families stay safe during these unprecedented times.
Executive Director, Strategy John Lee brings 30 years of marketing and advertising experience to his role at Imaginuity. Over his career, he’s held senior leadership positions at numerous advertising and public relations agencies, led marketing for a dotcom in the late 90s, owned a social media consultancy and directed social media on the client-side for a 170-unit casual dining restaurant brand. Combining over three decades of both agency and client-side marketing experience allows him to craft insight driven digital marketing strategies and communications plans that impact organizations in measurable, meaningful and exciting ways.