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We are living in a complex new world. Brands are having to adapt, fast, to an unpredictable situation. So, to provide global marketers with some helpful advice during this crisis, we decided to host our latest GMC webinar on Global Marketing in Times of Coronavirus.

While you might think we’d all be tired of Zoom calls, our stay-at-home speakers were more than happy to dial in and share their insights during our latest webinar. Our panellists included Laura De Stefanis from Jaguar Land Rover, Briain Curtin from Fitbit and Christian Wilbers from Head Racquet Sports. Each representing different sectors, and different regions, they provided lots of discussion on today’s pressing issues, from shifting consumer mindsets to adapting media channel strategy, and more.

Here’s what they had to say:

Reacting to the crisis in the short term

  • A first step for these 3 marketers was looking at what the crisis meant for their company, thinking about savings and the long term health of the company, ensuring its health was guaranteed.
  • For all of these brands, retailers and showrooms were suddenly closed all around the world meaning activity couldn’t shift from one region to another. As a result, messaging focused on driving sales had to be adapted quickly.
  • A key short-term action for all the brands was to figure out what messaging made sense, and then to tailor the media towards it.
  • Some regions are still operating in some ways, so regional differences had to be taken into account in the short term too.
  • Brands had to think about their campaigns, either cutting campaigns that simply didn’t work or adapting them. Fitbit was launching a new product and couldn’t delay the campaign. So imagery and messaging were assessed and adapted to ensure the content was sensitive to the current situation. Imagery of hikers, for example, was replaced with footage of home-workouts.
  • Brands are also thinking locally too in the short term. Head are considering what will happen when clubs re-open, shifting their event plans and the messaging to best fit what might happen in the future.

Reviewing creative and remaining relevant

  • Right now, all brands are trying to support the essential workers that keep our societies together.
  • If a brand offers a product or service that can benefit key workers, then that’s great, they should do their bit. For example, Jaguar Land Rover used their ongoing partnership with The Red Cross, donating their Defenders to the charity to help care workers transport supplies.
  • But, if a brand’s product isn’t relevant, they shouldn’t force a campaign or movement. They must stay authentic.
  • The focus should be on adding value to the consumers that are still going to be around when the pandemic is over. To do that, brands need to deliver engaging content that adds value to their customers’ lives during the crisis.
  • Fitbit introduced the Fitbit premium 90 day extended trial, featuring personalised health and fitness guidance, stress management, sleep programmes, home workout plans, and more. The Fitbit community really appreciated the opportunity to access the premium content.
  • For Head, the world of tennis relies primarily on courts and events. However, Head’s customers are still incredibly passionate about tennis, and want to talk about it, even in isolation. So, the brand is delivering the tennis content they want to see.
  • Brands should use data to inform the content they produce. They should see what people are searching for on platforms like Google or Pinterest and apply the data to their content strategy.
  • The key takeaway? Brands need to be brave and continue to spend on marketing, as long as their messaging remains thoughtful and relevant to their audiences.

Adapting media channel strategy

  • The immediate reaction for brands was to shift their spend to the media channels that seemed the most logical, for example games on social.
  • For the first time in a long time, the media market is unsaturated, so there’s a huge opportunity for brands. Media that’s currently running is overdelivering on its value.
  • More people are at home spending more time watching TV, listening to podcasts, scrolling through social and searching on websites. Brands should use these platforms, but only if they have something relevant to say. They shouldn’t just invest in media because it’s cheap.

Finding new ways to produce content

  • Shoots have come to a halt, so brands are turning to other types of content, like animation.
  • As work slows for many people, the internet is predominantly being used to communicate and connect. People are producing really great content in their homes and sharing it with their friends and favourite brands – so making the most of UGC will be key.

Looking at the mid to long-term impact

  • In both the mid and long-term, brands will have to plan for multiple scenarios, allowing them to be as flexible as possible, adapting to an ever-changing situation.
  • Older generations who’ve been resisting certain technology and tools for so long are now gladly adopting them. So, the way we work will change as resistance breaks down.
  • The crisis will have huge implications for the economy, which will impact everyone’s lives. It’ll become more difficult to encourage consumers to buy in a time of economic uncertainty.
  • Behaviour is changing around the world. Countries like Germany that were once much more traditional about media and commerce are now online, engaging in ecommerce. This will affect local strategy in the long term.
  • People will think differently after this crisis. They will value time spent together, and there’ll be a shift towards experiences. It may only last for a short time, but brands will need to take this shifting mindset into account.
  • In terms of advertising again outside of Covid-19 messaging, brands should look to the wealth of data out there to see what’s happening in each region. The transition from this current state to post-coronavirus life will be phased across the globe.

And while our panellists shared their insights and answered any queries, global marketers from an array of brands also let us know their thoughts on our Global Marketing in Times of Coronavirus poll.

Here’s the results:

In terms of marketing in the coming year, which of the following are you going to focus on as a priority?

  • Brand awareness 52%
  • Innovation 22%
  • Tactical promotions 17%

Which media channels are you going to invest most in?

  • Social / Digital 66%
  • TV 20%
  • OOH 6%
  • Radio 4%
  • Print 4%

What has been your greatest challenge over the past few weeks?

  • Change in demand 64%
  • Operations going remote 22%
  • Affected supply chain 14%

To conclude, there’s a lot for brands to think about right now, and the future seems fairly uncertain. Thankfully, our panellists also provided us with some with some much-needed positives to close the discussion:

  • Never have teams been more closely bonded, starting everyday by asking ‘how are you feeling?’
  • History shows us that crises always come to an end. There’s always a day after.

Just to let you know, we have a few more GMC events coming up, including a webinar for the APAC region exploring marketing during the coronavirus crisis. We also have an upcoming virtual roundtable series on current global marketing challenges. If you’d like to know more about these future Global Marketers’ Club events, join the club here.

Stay tuned