The Silver Lining: A Reset, Not A Rebuild

I live in New England. When Tom Brady left the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Bucs this year, there was an air of panic and despair everywhere… “The dynasty is over!” “How unprepared we are!” “Things will never be the same!” “There go my season tickets!”

I didn't panic because I believe we are in a “reset” mode -- not a “re-build.” The foundation of excellence is still there.

The Patriots will modify their approach, not re-create it.

The football fundamentals will be apparent, and the opportunity for innovation and creativity will build on that. After all, we have seen it before, extraordinary peaks after disappointing seasons -- 2013 vs. 2014, 2015 vs. 2016, 2017 vs. 2018, to name a few.

Now that most of you outside of New England hate me, let me bring this back to our current crisis.

Our most recent research on the Coronavirus Effect on Advertising shows that while some advertisers have panicked, most advertisers are modifying and shifting their spend.



And while some (44%) have cancelled a campaign (though not necessarily all their advertising) we have an opportunity to go a step further -- really taking advantage of the moment to re-think strategies and tactical plans.

Like many major sports, advertising campaigns are a “long season.” It is unproductive to think in one-, two-, or even three-month intervals.

The best advertisers employ a lengthy strategic plan, which leads to a long, prolific set of advertising activities. This requires a significant number of critical advertising decisions.

Now advertisers have a moment to reset, to rethink, to look around them more carefully and not only avoid pitfalls, but plan for great things. And while attitudes are changing on a daily basis due to conflicting economic information and consumer behavior, advertisers have an opportunity to respond sensibly to these new market changes -- there is no need to simply react.

They can be thoughtful about when to advertise, where to advertise, who to work with, and how to craft their message.

Advertisers are free to test new media, new formats, and new messaging.

And media sellers can venture into ad categories and environments that may have previously been unthinkable -- for example, replacing sports advertising spend with alternative content, moving linear TV dollars to their digital properties, and stretching the boundaries of messaging, media placement, and direct-selling solutions for clients with very specific consumer challenges to overcome.

There is also an opportunity for marketing and advertising professionals to perform a personal reset. Our research constantly indicates to us that there is a general “weariness” among advertisers.

They struggle with too many media options to review, too much technology to comprehend, too much pressure to perform, and too few resources to draw upon. Every. Single. Day.

While an “office vacation” may feel tempting, this is not the time to disconnect and check out, it is a time to think. It is a time to reach out. It is a time to rally the troops, because success and separation can be gained when the rest of the pack is at a standstill.

And what about all the companies involved? The marketers, agencies, media brands, mar-tech providers and ad tech companies… What has changed? What will change? Virtual conferences, electronic paper handling, digital dashboards and reporting… Could a company save big on operations expenses and put that money back into sales and marketing budgets?

I bet a lot of companies will be thinking about it. This can provide operations and marketing with an opportunity to work more effectively together, and that's a good thing. The irony here is that something that has locked everyone up can actually set us all free.

In fact, our current lock-down situation is a perfect opportunity to prove or disprove the effectiveness of working in a distributed environment. Follow up research to our Coronavirus Report tells us that roughly half of advertisers polled indicate they will likely work from home after the Coronavirus pandemic is over, and 43% think their companies will look to decrease office space and / or locations based on work-from-home results.

This is an extraordinary time for “The Team” to discover and build new approaches based on their existing foundation and fundamentals. In fact, the situation forces buyers-sellers into a more ideal collaboration scenario.

They must, together, find ways to innovate advertising approaches, start-to-finish, from media, to creative, to measurement.

Remember, it's not a rebuild. It's just a reset.


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