COVID Lessons – Keep Serving

This week marks 6 months since the (first) UK lockdown began. And, as the UK closed it doors, marketers threw their campaigns out of the window. Months, or even years of careful planning were pushed aside whilst agencies embarked on an urgent rethink of how to keep sales going. Whilst the challenges varied greatly from business to business, a common behaviour emerged – a behaviour which we have always advocated at PrettyGreen (http://itsprettygreen.com/the-emotional-evolution-of-brands/) brands became servants

For months, Covid-19 became the only item on the agenda, every insight driving our rethink stemmed from the new challenges our audiences faced. In their urgent need for relevance within a new paradigm, brands began staring at the immediate consumer need. Setting aside their own messaging and agenda, the brands that won hearts and minds during lockdown chose to providing something useful: like hand gel, face masks, quiet shopping aisles for pensioners, at home fitness regimes and supplementary lessons for home schooling.

And, whilst many of these initiatives were provided without a specific ROI in mind, the generosity of the gestures did pay back.  After offering daily P.E. workouts and raising £500,000 for the NHS, Joe Wicks saw his followers balloon, saying: “It took me nine years to get 800,000 subscribers. That was last week. Now I’ve got two million in the space of ten days”. His publicity this year dwarfs anything he has had before.

At PrettyGreen we add the filter of ‘brand as a servant’ to all of our thinking. It forces us to question whether the ideas we are generating are genuinely addressing a need, vs. generating PR for PR sake. It pushes us into developing actions for the real world instead of fictions for media.

Take one of our longest standing clients, Nando’s: from developing studios, running music workshops, helping students find the Nando’s in their city or even just offering free chicken, it has become a brand that’s integrated into youth culture via the authenticity of its actions over hollow tactics and stunts.

Whilst many marketers are pre-occupied with how to cast their brand as the hero. The dynamic brands of today (Insta, FitBit, Apple, Nike) know their place, and are not afraid to be the consumer’s subordinate.  They have learnt that being useful, supportive or even entertaining leads to them being depended upon and it’s from this position that they can generate loyalty and actually matter in consumer’s lives. 

So as Covid is on the rise again, and another potential lockdown looms, please brands, keep on serving.