One can only imagine what went through John Wren's head when news broke Friday that the name of the latest COVID-19 variant is Omicron. No, not Omnicom, but close enough to trigger a principle in cognitive processing known as typoglycemia, which leads people to read words in similar ways, even when spelled differently.
It's a principle that defies one of Madison Avenue's oldest adages -- "say anything you want as long as you spell my name right" -- but apparently triggered one of Wall Street's, sending Omnicom shares down 4% at their low on Friday.
And depending on how the news surrounding Omicron plays out, it could be the worst COVID-19 brand damage since Constellation Brands Corona beer became associated with the Coronavirus.
Omnicom aside, the emergence of yet another potentially elusive variant sent most stocks downward on Friday, amid news reporting suggesting the global pandemic isn't exactly behind us.
Interestingly, that news also makes a new report from another big agency holding company -- Dentsu -- seem prescient by comparison.
In a section titled "The Prolonged Pandemic," Dentsu's just-released 2021 Media Trends report is one of the first to come from Madison Avenue that doesn't necessarily portray the rosiest of scenarios.
"The pandemic is having far more impact, and is lasting longer, than almost anyone initially thought," the Dentsu team writes, adding: "The world has changed. The past 18 months have brought about a greater change in the way many people live, work, shop, and socialize, than any time in the past 70 years."
While Dentsu did not predict the impact of yet another highly transmittable variant, it noted that "the world will not simply rewind to 2019," and emphasized that much work needs to be done by big brands and their agencies to adapt to the changes in culture, health and commerce.
Dentsu's report outlines this new "megatrend" in five ways:
Oops, I meant "Omnichannel Everything." But you get the point.