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Brands Hesitantly Return With New Marketing Strategies As The Country Reopens

marketers reopening

For better or for worse, the country is starting to reopen. But that doesn’t mean advertisers are simply flipping their media plans back on.

As advertisers return to the market, they’re thinking critically about how consumer media and shopping habits have changed, and how strategies that worked in the past won’t necessarily work in the future.

AdExchanger rounded up responses from agency executives about how brands are starting to return to the market with a new mindset as the country reopens.

George Manas, president and chief media officer, OMD

“Recovery isn’t the right word. Reset is more accurate. The pandemic has radically altered so many behaviors, perceptions and realities of everyday life. Just how long and how deep this disruption will go is up for debate.

“What is certain is that where we are headed won’t be where we’ve been. Savvy brands are recognizing the opportunity in this reset to use behavioral data and empathy to forge new connections, conversions and relationships. These brands are returning to spending, but reevaluating their channel priorities, mix and messages to new consumer patterns, rituals and routines as well as the new commercial realities of their business.”

Ashley Sobel, group director, The Media Kitchen

“Depending on the category, we are starting to see advertisers reenter the marketplace.

“Those that are uniquely positioned to provide value to their audience, through services that can help with recovery or products people are using in quarantine, are increasing spend. At times they’re surpassing spend in normal periods. Those harder hit by the pandemic – retail, travel and hospitality – have essentially pulled advertising.”

Amanda Martin, VP, enterprise partnerships, Goodway Group


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“The country reopening has definitely intensified the strategy conversations, although those have been playing out the entire time as ‘what if’ scenarios.  The decision to spend or strategize for recovery is not only industry specific but brand specific. There is no one-size-fits-all.

“Reopening is not a light switch to spend. Strategy and tactics need to adapt to this ever-changing normal. With variance in state-by-state reopening strategies, we are advising our clients on a geographically informed approach. [As the country reopens], consumers will be more accepting of product-driven marketing, as long as the value proposition is relevant.”

Talia Raviv, Global CEO, Publicis Media Exchange

“We are seeing fundamental shifts to strategic planning, not just a flurry of re-buying. The very basics of life and consumer behavior are changing, and the existing marketing calendar is instantly antiquated. The rules do not apply.

“How do you do back-to-school if there is no physical school? What does shopping for a holiday celebration look like without the friends and family at the party? How do you turn a national brand into a hyper-local advertiser when each store is on a different reopen schedule?

“Advertisers who were buying impressions in February have moved to buying guaranteed outcomes in June. The digital muscle memory built out of necessity in the pandemic is not going away.”

Danielle Koffer, chief client officer, Mindshare USA

“COVID-19 is a national crisis with a local impact. The path to recovery varies across the country with different case trajectories and state responses. Some clients are shifting investments to ecommerce while brick-and-mortar reopenings are sensitive. [Brands] need to think about capacity and safety along with consumer sentiment.

“In our research, 93% of Americans selected at least one measure that would make them feel safe to return to businesses. But that measure, be it contactless payment, mandatory mask and glove wearing or having a vaccine in place, varied quite a bit across geographies. We’ve been tracking data on mobility and social sentiment so we can help clients navigate their reopening strategies in different markets.

“Brands have to consider the new behaviors people have picked up during this time, whether that’s pet adoption or DIY home projects, and what that means for their strategies. Brands also have to remember just how many people have been impacted financially.”

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