You must admit that life could not have thrown a greater curveball than the one now: Coronavirus aka Covid-19.
Companies have moved from the office to the ‘burbs in self-isolation. The Himalayas can be seen from afar as the smog has cleared up. And corporates look at the 2020 annual planner and ponder: what is next?
ForwardKeys reached out to a few marketing agencies in the UK and Greece, who are clients, to check their pulses and see how they are managing the crisis. Here is the sage wisdom that came from the recent catch-up.
The Evolution of Travel
Many are seeing the world polarised between Before Coronavirus (B.C) and After Coronavirus (A.C) and the buzzword of the day is “the new normal”. Predictions upon predictions are being made regarding the pre-screening options at airports, hazmat suits for flight crew, social distancing onboard planes with plexiglass barriers. What will develop is still uncertain, but the pandemic will certainly leave a legacy on society, not just the travel industry.
“We expect leisure travel to show more resilience and we are seeing signs of “rebound/ revenge travel” – people with a greater than before appetite for travel when it is safe, and restrictions are lifted. However, this may well take longer time than expected and some segments (i.e. Low-cost air carriers and All-Inclusive resorts) may need to reinvent themselves and their business model,” says Theofilos Kyratsoulis, General Manager of Mindhaus Tourism Marketing Strategy.
“What will not be different though, is the need to relax, have fun, explore, learn, and physically connect with places, cultures, and people. That is why we remain very positive for the future of travel,” Kyratsoulis adds positively.
The Good Teachers Pets
Rather than brands cutting their advertising budgets or feeding audiences the same campaigns as per before the pandemic to the extreme of “going dark” and unseen, clever companies are working through adversity by offering sincere diversity.
“The advice we’re giving to our clients is to stay disciplined, true to your vision and carry on your brand strategy and baseline branding/ marketing actions. At the same time, rethink, adjust or stall any major advertising expenditure. Messaging should be based on empathy, positivity, creativity, and transparency,” says Kyratsoulis.
This view was echoed in the UK when we chatted with PSI Advertising. “We believe the worst thing that travel companies and brands can do now is go dark. It is our opinion, that these companies should continue to advertise where possible and relevant. However, the key to any advertising right now is ensuring the tone creative and messaging are in-line with the current situation. That may be messaging that provides current travel information or simply providing nostalgic ‘holiday’ creative to remind people that when the COVID-19 situation is over, these companies are there ready to hit the ground running,” says Edward Heaney, Business Director at PSI Advertising in London.
Destinations can make use of this time for dreamy yet meaningful campaigns. The #GreeceFromHome campaign is based on empathy, authentic Southern hospitality as depicted by real, local Greek ambassadors who open their homes to show you personal things they love.
From Globalisation to Localisation
How long will the world be in quarantine is anyone’s guess. Rather than planning that long-haul trip someplace exotic, many governments and tourism boards are urging travellers to focus on the domestic travel options. And some inventive travel operators are seeing it as an opportunity.
“As physical distancing will continue to be an issue and safety a major concern, we believe that there is a short/ medium-term opportunity for lesser-known, leisure destinations with a sense of remoteness. But they must have good road connectivity to start communicating their brand with more confidence, to attract interest and drive visitation as soon as travel barriers are lifted,” says Kyratsoulis.
This local flavour can also be seen in the streets as OOH and local councils share more community-centric messages. “The “rise of localism” is increasing in importance as brands adapt their strategies to engage with audiences in and around their homes,” adds Heaney.
“OOH still plays an important role in this, with brands, as well as the government, focusing on the medium to deliver more community-based and health and safety messages. An example of this can be seen with the recent ‘Clap for our Carers’ campaign in the UK.”
Data & Content
Recently, you must admit it, there has been an overflow and overabundance of Covid-19 related information and intelligence. From reports, to free webinars, and virtual forums, the sea of experts has greatly expanded just as quickly as the fake news.
At the same time, the organizational resources who manage this information are limited. Therefore, it is very critical to know exactly which intelligence make sense for which brand, and for what purpose.
“Emotions may blur expert opinion. Whilst historical data has little relevance now, forward-looking insights and analytics have greater importance. Getting unbiased and a factual understanding of the current, unprecedented crisis is what matters most,” says Kyratsoulis.
Meanwhile, the ability to provide a clear picture of how audiences are adapting to these new conditions is of vital importance for brands and retailers. “Data visualization allows brands to understand these changing behaviours and adapt strategies swiftly and accordingly,” adds Heaney.
“As England adapts to life at home over the coming weeks/months – the supermarket queues, short walks around the local neighbourhood and home exercise routines – ECOS, fuelled by Locomizer + multiple data sources, will keep our finger on the pulse of the nation in these ever-changing times. We use our access to both ForwardKeys and travel partners to provide this visibility at a global level.”
In sum, the pearls of wisdom derived from these conversations emphasise one thing – don’t stop advertising. Budgets may be smaller but sincere messages should continue to be shared. People may be in the ‘burbs due to the lockdown, but they still need to shop, work and dream of travel.
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