Louise Hart, Senior Account Manager at bbd explores the growth of convenience and collaboration, hoping that 2020 will be seen as a time when society knitted itself back together.
Introducing The New
Our modus operandi has been turned upside down. We have now been living a new normal since 23rd March. On the upside, these past weeks of isolation have taught us two new powers.
Power 1: the power of convenience. Proof that when brands have the flexibility to evolve and adjust based on consumer needs at that specific point in time, both parties win.
Power 2: the power of a united front, proving that if businesses come together and react fast, we may have a stronger chance of beating this terrible pandemic.
Both are acts of collaboration and bring us stories of how coming together is for the greater good. I would like to believe that future generations will look back on 2020 as much more than the year that COVID-19 struck, and people were forced apart. Let’s instead hope it can also be seen as a time when society knitted itself back together.
The Power of Convenience
With this in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about the absolute need for convenience and the prevalence of this in the current climate, especially during isolation. What qualifies as convenient can differ massively from one person to the next. The power of convenience is what makes Amazon a genius entity. Due to its vast offering and tailoring, it enables everyone to find their version of convenience.
To give context, I am juggling agency life as an Account Manager at bbd with my beautifully wild daughter, India, aged two and a half. Convenience is my holy grail and generally allows me to function!
New Needs Now
- The need for shortcuts.
The last thing we need in this stressful time is a 30-minute Waitrose queue, especially if we have children, so keeping it local has become essential. We are finding convenience in smaller stores and independents, may it be eggs from the local farm or flour from the health shop. It’s amazing how fast the epidemic has rocketed the smaller players into the digital space and forced them to evolve. It’s vindication of our work with Visa on the Great British High Street campaign, championing the efforts of those smaller players, with particular focus on those who have enabled contactless payments.
- The need for speed.
Home delivery has been a godsend. When most shops are closed, I have been able to source most of what I need online. We are also seeing an understandable shift in the attitude to online shopping from the older generation as many have no choice but to embrace it. Those brands without online presence are massively losing out. Primark for example have seen sales fall from a whopping £650 million a month to £0.
- The need to educate.
School closures have panicked parents. The merging worlds of homeworking and home-schooling have created the ultimate challenge. We’ve seen a wealth of brands answer our cry for help and seen some brilliant charity work from Unicef who launched a global learning partnership with Microsoft. The fast launch of The Learning Passport provided Ukraine children with their curriculum delivered online. My personal thanks go to the free storybook illustrated by Grufallo Illustrator Axel Scheffler, allowing my daughter to understand COVID-19 and feel less confused by the massive change to her norm.
- The need for one moment of pleasure.
Other than the obvious, the end of this pandemic, there is not that much to look forward to. No after work drinks, no dinners with friends, no weekends away. Just Eat have seen an influx in new clients as it enables local pubs to stay in business, delivering their community a rare moment of joy, that Friday feeling. In contrast, Joe Wicks deserves a mention, enabling gym bunnies to stay in shape and the rest of us a chance to work off that take away. HP & Just Eat launched a perfectly timed campaign which I have had the pleasure of working on. Their brand partnership unites two isolation essentials; with a subscription to HP Instant Ink, much needed for home schooling and WFH, comes a free £30 takeaway.
- The need to stay connected.
The outbreak has sadly put physical barriers between families, but I love how this is encouraging us to explore different ways to connect. The obvious ones are the rise of Facetime, Zoom and photo sharing on social media. Whilst it’s great to see the over 70s learning the new tech, I am warmed by going back to basics, the letter writing, the card making, the clapping sounds of a neighbourhood. All wonderful acts of togetherness.
Brands’ charitable acts of kindness
The subject of togetherness brings me on to talk about those brands I believe deserve a shout out.
Those who have put a huge amount of thought into making life bearable for those in isolation and for those on the front line. We find ourselves bombarded by COVID-19 marketing messages and many are extremely contrived BUT a handful have gone beyond the core of their business, beyond the realms of profit margins and have delivered charitable acts of kindness. All are examples of collaborations which have made a real difference to society.
Luxury Fashion Houses & The World Health Organisation
The Armani Group switched production of luxury goods to the creation of single use medical overalls. And Gucci kick started its ‘We are all in this together’ campaign: a collaboration with Facebook, calling upon its huge social following to donate to the WHO Solidarity Response Fund. Facebook matched all funds raised.
New Balance & Medical R&D Institutions
The trainer brand prototyped and developed a production process in collaboration with local medical and R&D institutions. They have repurposed their brand to temporarily focus on the roll out of general use face masks, making 100,000 units per week.
Bulldog Skincare & NHS workers
This London shave brand launched a site for NHS workers, giving away free care packages, consisting of razors, shower gel and soap.
Lucozade Sport & Personal Trainers
Lucozade is reaching out to Personal Trainers, paying them £1,000 for a 15-minute video when spotlighted on Instagram. This dual approach brings financial benefit to those who may otherwise be out of pocket whilst keeping the nation active.
bbd & Our People
Like many other agencies, we were no strangers to the Zoom universe before the pandemic. Collaborating exclusively online has become our new normal. After years of championing digital, we’ve embraced Friday Pub Quizzes on Zoom, daily stand-ups by video, and even built an API to integrate with Slack that allows us to schedule a tea break with a randomly selected colleague. These are internal collaborations, though. We’re also part of a strong local marketing hub and a wider industry. The role we can play in supporting both in the coming months is arguably what will define us.