This is a crisis not to be missed: Brands have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Takeaways from the DIRECT TALKS From Home 04 webinar “What do brands do when the going gets tough?”

The economic model might not change immediately, but the collapse of the present consumerist model is evident in the long term. What brands do now will enter the subconscious, and memory stays for life, as noted by the participants at the fourth DIRECT TALKS From Home webinar: Miša Lukić, Founder & Chief Business Designer, New Strategy, Olivera Nikodijević, Marketing Director, Apatinska pivara, Milivoje Čalija, Owner, Čalija&Čalija, Jovan Stojanović, CEO, Direct Media United Solutions. Discussion moderated by Mirko Bunčić, Creative Strategist, Direct Media United Solutions.

Brands that (don’t) play dead

“A business is a community of people, and the brand as an emissary of that business must protect the community in crisis — both its customers and suppliers and the local community. If the business continues to be only a community of interest, with no humanity at all, that strips it of resilience to crises like this,” asserts Miša Lukić. According to him, US research reveals that around 25% of companies “played dead” in the first coronavirus wave and 80% reduced communication, while some brands started to communicate proactively, with consumers being more approving of the latter.

In the first days since the pandemic broke out in Serbia, the Apatinska pivara brewery launched a campaign called Stay at the Crib, egging on consumers to act responsibly. “Of course, we could have played dead, but we thought that wasn’t the right way. We developed communication that targeted younger people and imbued it with a dash of urban slang. The best we can do now that people are uncomfortable in the new reality is make it a bit easier for them when they see their brand. They will remember that later, because in times of crisis new bonds are formed between brands and consumers. If the moment is not used properly right away, afterwards it will be too late,” says Olivera Nikodijević.

Microbrand Anđeli, according to Milivoje Čalija, has laid down precisely the ethos and values ​​it lives by, which helped them when the crisis first hit. “It turns out that now it’s paying off. People have started to perceive us as a kind of sanctuary in difficult moments. We’ve never been a stranger to e-commerce, but our delivery service currently works much better than the store when it was open, and which we closed during the pandemic. We can’t say that it’s not hampering our turnover, but we are seeing benefits through a set of emotions and values, which our customers now by and large relate to,” says Milivoje.

After Covid-19 comes Ecovid-20

According to Jovan Stojanović, in order to get out of the crisis, the communication industry will need to communicate its important role much more clearly and agencies will have to change the way they operate.“We will certainly be witnessing significant economic turbulence, and what is necessary is to maintain business continuity, because holding the process back could be very harmful to everyone. We are ones that help brands to market their products and services and ones that most definitely influence the development of the entire economy. And that is why it is important that we communicate our role better than ever before, and that brands continue to communicate, because that is the most significant form of social responsibility towards the entire community. Before all that, we as agencies have an obligation to make sure that our strategies in three months are not the same as before the pandemic,” says Jovan Stojanović.

Supporting the economy

According to Jovan Stojanović, we will see a new economic bubble after the pandemic, and only the subsequent economic cycle that will not come so quickly will redefine the global economy. In all this we must preserve the national economy. “I am certain that the US will launch a strong ‘made in USA’ campaign to get people to buy local products,” said Jovan Stojanović, noting that this would be a lifeline for our markets, as well. “During this month, everyone found themselves in a situation with no incessant shopping, and the awareness around supporting local must be present in everyone in order to incite the economy,” Stojanović says.

Watch the webinar here DIRECT TALKS From Home 04.

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