VMLY&R CEO Jon Cook On Branding And Experience Post-COVID

Social Distancing With Friends

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COVID-19 has changed consumers’ media habits – and their experiences with brands.

“So much has been taken away from us, [people will] start to reevaluate brands in their lives, whether that’s consciously or unconsciously,” said VMLY&R CEO Jon Cook.

Ecommerce is now essential as physical stores are closed throughout the country. VMLY&R is helping brands such as Wendy’s and Sherwin Williams not just communicate, but reinvent their consumer touchpoints so they can do business digitally.

“It’s less talking about how we’re around as a brand and more rethinking how to distribute products, how people get to you and know about your brand,” Jon said.

VMLY&R originated in 2018 from a merger between ad agency Young and Rubicam and digital agency VML, and it has spent the past year and a half bringing branding and experience together. The pandemic forced the agency to learn those shared capabilities even faster.

“We’re just fresh off of teaching each other how to communicate, breaking down walls and putting together capabilities,” Jon said.

VMLY&R’s offices are still officially closed, but Jon has begun going into his local Kansas City office as the city reopens. He even went to a Mexican restaurant recently, a strange experience with low capacity and waiters covered in masks.

“It was weird,” he said. “I would generally stay home, but it was a treat to try it out.”

Also in this episode: Jon is refocusing hours he would’ve spent sitting in LaGuardia Airport into learning how to play the piano. He’s also enjoying sports podcasts, despite the lack of sports.

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