In this industry, and especially in the current moment, it’s difficult to find time to hit the pause button and truly reflect on what’s going on.
So I grabbed the opportunity to talk for nearly an hour with Christian Kurz, SVP Global Consumer Insights at Viacom, and Sam Taylor, Head of Group Commercial and Performance Marketing at Direct Line, for the Future of TV’s digital panel discussion on ‘TV and Advertising in a Time of Crisis’. A heavyweight topic if ever there was one.
Expertly moderated by Justin Lebbon, he asked us how our respective businesses are dealing with the crisis, what (if anything) has surprised us about the media response, what lessons we can we learn, and what would we like to see come out of this.
Without doubt, every business has been affected in some way. Whether materially affected due to a collapse in demand (as in the travel sector), a temporary blockage of routes to market (as in the automotive industry), or indeed in sectors dealing with very rapid increases in demand (like supermarket chains), helping our brands – and the media industry in general – emerge in the strongest possible position is of existential importance.
For any business, the biggest challenge in dealing with a crisis as dynamic as this one, is the on-going uncertainty. Speed of decision-making, agility and responsiveness are more critical than they have ever been. So how has the TV industry fared in all this? As if the world couldn’t get any stranger, TV has forgotten how famously inflexible it usually is and transformed itself. With so much money leaving the market so rapidly, the rules on how we buy airtime and produce advertising (and programming) have been ripped up.
PHD and Adam and Eve’s client, McCain, is a wonderful example of what you can achieve when you think and act quickly. Adjusting to the realities of a national pandemic, McCain managed to produce a re-cut and re-voiced ad from existing creative in only five days.
The result : Here’s to Everyone – a genuinely moving piece of work that was completely in tune with the times.
The lesson here is this. The most powerful and culturally resonant messages won’t always wait months to be heard. Sometimes you have to seize your moment.
As to legacy, I would love to see TV retain this spirit of innovation and agility. Broadcasters, agencies and brands do have the ability to move much more quickly when forced to.
From a brand perspective, it’s easy to say risk aversion is the wrong way to go (Ritson). It’s much harder when it is your bottom line and you are on the hook, so I wouldn’t advocate spending your way through tough times as the entire answer to surviving the months ahead.
However, I do think we will see brands and businesses ultimately carried through this by creativity, innovation, and a little bit of bravery. With a challenger mindset, there are always opportunities to create disproportionate growth.