29 May - Taking the Temperature of the Nation | Our Industry Insights

Posted 22 May 2020.

Julie Bramley, Insights Director - Ex Bauer Media has been working hard to gather and curate the most useful and relevant research and insights from around the country and globe to help us as move forward from the Covid-19 crisis. Read on for Julie’s top picks and comments.

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Insights - 29 May 2020

Remember this? January 5th, 2020

Scrolling through my photos yesterday I came across this one taken at Bland Bay, Northland, on January 5 this year, when smoke from the devastating Australian bush fires caused the skies above us to turn orange. Holiday-makers at the campsite across the road from us retreated to their tents and an eerie silence eveloped the normally busy bay. If we had known the challenges ahead, would we have been so spooked? And even in our wildest sci-fi dreams, could we have imagined this global pandemic that has touched all our lives – from Wall Street to Wanaka….

Check out my latest picks for the week.

Trendwatching’s David Mattin launches new newsletter

The clever David Mattin, Global Head of Trends & Insights, launched Trendwatching – as a weekly newsletter – in January 2020, interestingly. This week, his “New World, Same Humans”, asks: “What will you build in this new world?” He’s identified three shifts for the post-pandemic landscape: the anticipated arrival of a spate of new tools and platforms emerging to connect us locally; virtual worlds becoming domains of meaningful experience; and continued upheavals expected in the workplace, with automation expected to drive more change and the acceleration of new forms of work.

Surviving a world of financial uncertainty

Now that we appear to have Covid-19 under control in New Zealand, we all need to dig deep to face tough economic conditions. Dentsu Aegis has done another stellar job putting together its latest report focused on just this. First, it covers off consumer sentiment and behaviour, followed by best practice for surviving a recession. Great work, guys.

New strategies for experiences

Written by Christophe Castagnera, Head of Connected Experiences at Imagination, this short article published on the IPA website asks how businesses and brands are going to rethink experiences on a strategic level. It has some interesting links, including Imagination’s first global study of experiences conducted in 2018 and 2019, which “revealed that experiences are not a marketing channel, but rather an entire ecosystem of places, spaces, communication channels and activities that connect brands with people on a deeper level”. He believes there are opportunities for a more targeted approach that will benefit both brands and consumers.

Capsule: the new go-to for stuff worth talking about

The main reason I loved working at Bauer Media was the people. It was full of incredibly driven, smart, innovative people like ex-editors Kelly Bertrand, Emma Clifton, Nicky Dewe and Alice O’Connell, who have launched a new digital site called Capsule. In the wake of the shock closedown of Bauer NZ, they say: “After a few weeks of tears, too many carbs and so much wine that the neighbours judged us on recycling day, we all realised what we wanted to do - write. So Capsule was born, a site for the savvy, strong, intelligent and stylish woman who wants to know what’s happening, what’s trending, what’s new, and what’s worth talking about.” I like it so much I’ve already asked for their rate-card.

Well done, Kantar

Every week for the past 11 weeks Kantar has gauged the attitudes of Kiwis to the Covid-19 situation and delivered us insights. Their latest efforts show New Zealanders wanting to prioritise local goods and services, striving for an improved work-life balance, and 44% are looking forward to travelling internationally again post-Covid-19. [Read more here, see attached.] This is Kantar’s last weekly update. Although they will continue to monitor New Zealanders’ sentiments, behaviours and attitudes, they are now focusing their efforts on hosting a webinar that draws all of their learnings from the past three months, both globally and locally, to understand how Covid-19 will change the relationship between brands and their customers. Not to be missed. Good job, Kantar!

Kantar New Zealand webinar – How should brand and customer strategies evolve in response to Covid-19? 10am – 11:30am. Thursday 25th June. If you would like to register for this event, please contact simon.munro@kantar.com

oOh!media research shows we’re embracing normality

Mobile data based on the movements of a 70,000-strong Kiwi user panel shows audience activity is rapidly surging back to normal with visitation to retail stores and malls getting back to pre-Covid levels. This is backed by Paymark, showing many retail categories recording YoY growth in till takings. Key consumer sentiment shows Kiwis wanting to re-connect with friends and family and rewarding themselves with a little retail therapy or going out to a restaurant or bar.

Movie theatres under pressure

With only a few movie theatres able to open under Level 2 in New Zealand, the industry must be hurting. Mark Ritson has this week dedicated his column in MarketingWeek.com to his thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and what it would mean to lose the magical experience of watching a film on a big screen. None of this is helped by the phenomenal success of the simultaneous release, in early April, to theatres and (home) digital rental market of the kids’ movie, Trolls 2. It has proven to be the highest grossing VOD title in the history of American cinema.

View Cannes and Sundance film festivals for free

In response to the pandemic, 20 major film festivals from around the world are coming together for 10 days (from 29 May) of curated films streamed on YouTube for free. All viewers will be able to make donations to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Trend inspiration

The innovative teams at TrendWatching and Business of Purpose have created a very searchable platform full of Covid-19-related innovations from around the world.

The Disruption Clinic

Every week this cool newsletter arrives from TBWA telling me about the latest trends and innovations by brands in response to Covid-19. This week it included Bose’s new campaign for their noise cancelling headphones, called Dear Neighbour, and Nike’s new inspirational film Never Too Far Down to mark the return of competitive sport. Click below to sign up.

What’s next for the travel industry?

A new report from GlobalWebIndex provides insights about the divergent attitudes between frequent travellers and the general population from various parts of the world.

Did you know the world’s highest waterfall cable climb is in New Zealand?

I thought I was well traveled in New Zealand, but a recent post highlighting special local deals caught my eye to reveal something previously unknown to me. Unfortunately, the Koha climb deal is now booked out, but this still looks like an incredible experience.

Insights - 22 May 2020

Who knew that life without a job, during a global pandemic, could be so rich and fulfilling? No lying around watching Netflix for me! As well as curating this newsletter for the Comms Council, which I’m enjoying immensely, I’ve been working on my husband’s wholesale fashion manufacturing business with my daughter, a creative, who’s also ex-Bauer. There’s been a new website created, a clear B2B strategy put in place and last week, Georgia and I were at the Auckland Domain doing a fashion shoot and creating content. Most enjoyable.

This week I was very happy to see my 17-year-old son head back to school at Western Springs College. Unlike some, he hasn’t exactly “thrived” in lockdown and has produced one paragraph during the past four weeks (I kid you not). Fortunately, the school was one step ahead in predicting different responses from students. I was most inspired by principal Ivan Davis’ email last week assuring students that “they must not feel judged or feel that it’s too late to be able to do well this year… The time it will take for children and some staff to reconnect and relax will be different for everyone. Wellbeing needs to be addressed before learning will happen.” With these thoughts in mind, go easy out there, my friends.

Buy-ology for the Coronavirus World

It’s always good to present different views. Martin Lindstrom, of the well-known book buy-ology: Truth + Lies about Why We Buy – based on a huge neuro-marketing study that looked into the brains of 2000 volunteers while they were exposed to ads, logos, commercials, brands and products – has just produced a short version “for a Coronavirus World”. In stark contrast to Mark Ritson’s comments this week about the only long-term impact of Covid-19 being recessionary, Lindstrom believes things will never be the same. (I think it’s important to remember that he is American, and their experience of the virus has, unfortunately, been quite different to ours.)

He believes our amygdala (the part of our brain that processes emotions) has been activated into overdrive and we’re all living in a permanent cloud of fear. Apparently, the amygdala has one unique skill – it overrides anything and everything – like an emergency breaker switch. Excessive toilet paper buying is a symptom, so we haven’t been completely immune in New Zealand. As a result of Covid-19-charged behaviours, says Lindstrom, we’re psychologically exhausted. He predicts we’ll get fat, divorced, question our purpose in life and re-evaluate everything. The perceived value of money will change, which will express itself in a variety of ways: a rebound bucket list; more risky sports and adventures; parties, holidays and quality time with friends and family. He says the virus has taught us something about “the efficiency of a 100% digital lifestyle; but as appealing as it first seemed, something was missing. We need that something – our craving for a physical sense of belonging, a desire for human connection – at any price.”

In terms of brand he believes now is the moment to build your brand. He says you have the opportunity to make a lifelong impact on your customers, good or bad. Post-recovery, we’re going to find ourselves in a new online environment and, thanks to our amygdalas, we’ll have whole new routines. Finally, he says: “You won’t be remembered for wins or losses, but for how you were there for your employees and customers.”

The Case for Advertising in a Recession

Peter Field’s good work can be found in many places at the moment. This link, to a recent webinar by System 1, also includes the clever Orlando Wood on “How to advertise: advice for brands today”.Some of Field’s advice for advertisers during a recession:

- Going dark carries high risk of share loss and greater price sensitivity.

- Short-term promotional strategies lead to dependency and profit loss.

- Innovation is a better short-term strategy.

- Maintained or increased marketing spend brings short-term hit to profitability during recession but much stronger growth to profitability in recovery.

- Be guided by the SOV/SOM rule: maintain positive ESOV (maybe possible with reduced spend).

In 2008/09 many high-profile successes were driven by emotional “feel good” brand campaigns. Lessons from the past reviewed; focus on the long-term if you can; defend your share of voice; seize your market opportunity; demonstrate humanity and generosity.

Then Wood talks through findings from System 1’s new ad testing, which calls for more right brain thinking for advertising during Covid-19. He says:

1. This is a time of heightened empathy, of shared experience, of alertness and vigilance.

2. Do I need to create new work? Not necessarily: pre-existing brand work will most likely still connect today as well as it did. In fact, revisiting work from the past can be very successful.

3. But won’t new ads connect better? Yes, but there’s huge variability by brand. Some perform much better, some much worse than pre-existing work – on both emotional response and brand recognition.

4. What if I do need to create new work?

- Show life, generosity and how you can help. People, place, community, humour, spontaneity and lived time are enormously valued today.

- Remain distinctive. Draw on your existing campaign, make use of your existing assets or characters.

- Avoid mechanistic advertising that is empty of life, didactic, distant, highly rhythmic, reliant on on-screen words or voiceover, focused on things rather than people. Avoid the cliché.

Tony Alexander on Economic Change in New Zealand

Antony Young hosted a webinar on Tuesday this week with Tony Alexander (best known for his 25-year stint as chief economist at BNZ). For those of you who haven’t come across Antony Young, he’s spent 20 years running agencies in London, New York and China and is now ensconced in the Horowhenua on a blueberry farm. These days he wears many hats – he’s a founding partner of the Digital Café in Wellington and is chair of the Horowhenua NZ Trust, supporting the economic development of businesses in his local area. It was in this role that he hosted the webinar, where Alexander discusses his views on the current economic climate and what lies ahead for New Zealand. In this half-hour session, Tony reminds us that we’re not going through a banking or fiscal crisis; he provides context around key economic metrics and predictions on how the recession will play out in house prices, retail, travel, tourism, hospitality and the rural sector. Worth a listen – realistic, informative and quite uplifting. Thanks for organising, Antony!

Looking for a Way to liven your Zoom Calls? Invite a Goat.

Yes, you read it correctly. Cronkshaw Fold Farms, Rossendale, Lancashire has found a new niche. Their response to Covid-19 was to rent out their goats for important business video calls. “Be real,” they say. “Will anyone even notice if a scape-goat joins the call”? It costs only £5 and all currencies are accepted to have one of their team join the first 10 minutes of your Zoom meeting. Sounds like a plan.

Insights - 15 May 2020

I’ve just spent an hour watching a Zoom webinar with Mark Ritson – not my typical Thursday night, but hey, what’s normal these days? And speaking of which, he’s of the opinion we’re going to snap back into our previous existences eventually. In the meantime, I’m slowly accepting the “new normal”. I’m cringing as I write these words; as some of you already know, it’s my least favourite phrase. However, it’s neatly explained by Devi Sridhar, a public health expert at the University of Edinburgh, in the Canvas8 report below. He says: “The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbour or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. Everyone wants to know when this will end. That’s not the right question. The right question is: ‘How do we continue?’” The report includes a piece on the rising expectations for closure – and I realise now this is what I’m struggling with the most. The lack of closure. At least there’s a wealth of interesting research and commentary to read and digest while we figure out “how to continue”. My best picks below.

How Well is New Zealand Really Doing With Covid-19?

David Farrar has sourced some detailed numbers, which show New Zealand’s performance in comparison to other OECD countries, and the results are pretty bloody fantastic.

Which Brands Are Getting Their Advertising Right?

The IPA asked UK-based creatives for their thoughts and best ideas and responses to the outbreak. The result, I found, was extremely uplifting and reminded me why I love advertising. The piercingly succinct ideation and creativity is inspiring. Worth a look – loads of examples included.

Truths, Principles and Positives

This article by Marc Nohr (Group CEO Miroma Agencies/chair of the IPA – Commercial Leadership Group) provides guiding principles to help us weather Covid-19’s impact on the advertising industry. It also highlights the positives we should hold on to as we look to the future. Nohr says: “The entrepreneur in me knows crises force significant change; and change can be positive. We will come out of this. The pendulum will swing back. But first comes the hard graft.”

Strategising For a New Era of Separations

A shout-out to my good friend David Thomason, who sent me this excellent article by Mark Di Somma, a business and brand strategist. From a New Zealand lens, Di Somma looks at how the current global health crisis has generated huge changes in how we think about everyday life. Along the way, this new age of lockdown has also introduced important, new separations into how we view aspects of our economy and, indeed, the wider global trading environment.

There’s no Place Like (Out of) Home

Ooh!media’s insights reports have already shown New Zealanders moving around more and the Out of Home audience beginning to bounce back under Level 3. With the switch to Level 2, they expect huge increases with the return of more shopping journeys, the work commute and the school run. Their latest report explores the attitudes and mindsets of more than 500 Kiwi consumers, their views looking to Level 2 and beyond and offering insight into how their behaviours might change post-Covid-19.

On Our Way to New Normal With Canvas8

Canvas8’s Pandemic Culture focuses on consumer behaviour. Most of the report provides navigation through the earlier stages of lockdown, so skip past Denial, Anxiety and Adjustment (if only it were this easy!) to slide 50 on Re-evaluation. This is relevant for our move to Level 2 and includes deciding on which “new normal” we want: societal resilience, deciding what’s obsolete and beginning to reinvent the status quo. There’s a guide for the role of brands through this stage before moving to Stage 5 – the dastardly “new normal”.

Powerful Observations Made by Droga5’s Second Cultural Tracker Report

Not for the faint-hearted, this smart report identifies patterns and extrapolates themes that anticipate the new world order for society at large, and for brands and their stakeholders. They believe the pandemic is proving to be an accelerator rather than a series-break for the emergent trends Droga5 was already picking up prior to the Wuhan outbreak.

Deconstructing The New Normal With Dentsu Aegis

Dentsu Aegis’ second report examines consumer behaviour in New Zealand. Their findings suggest we will revert to more normal behaviour once out of restrictions, but they have identified four areas where new behaviours will continue: home, money, e-commerce and retail – also our enjoyment of working from home and what these changes mean to brands.

The Lowdown With Marketing Week

I’m not sure how this escaped me, but Marketing Week has an entire dashboard dedicated to Covid-19, also a special collaboration with partners to bring The Lowdown. Sessions this week include “Why humour is important right now” with Marketoonist Tom Fishburne and “How to remain nimble in a crisis” with Mother ECD Hermiti Balarin. On 19 May there’s “How to control the chaos of remote work” with Joshua Zerkel from Asana. Loads of great stuff here – spend some time exploring the site.

Roaring Out of Recession

This comprehensive article from HBR was recommended by Mark Ritson and is written by Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria and Franz Wohlgezogen. It’s based on research conducted on 4700 public companies and how they perform before, during and after a recession.

Kantar Has Been Constantly on The Pulse of Public Sentiment in NZ

Kantar has published the latest findings of their ninth research release monitoring Kiwi consumer response to Covid-19. That’s dedication. Their most recent report describes New Zealanders’ biggest concern, when it comes to Covid-19, as the financial impact of the pandemic – particularly the impact of Covid-19 on the New Zealand economy and job security. And while a third of Kiwis agree with the decision to move to Level 2 this week, almost one-third of Kiwis believe we should wait until next week, or longer.

Just Released

The amazing people at Wunderman Thompson have just released what they’re calling ‘a companion analysis’ to accompany their annual Future 100 report. They found that many of the trends identified in the original report are still applicable, and have even accelerated and matured. (This acceleration, also mentioned in the Droga5 report). Highlights include; Optimistic futures, the new language of advertising, unconventional brand actions and new payment gestures. I can’t wait to read it fully.

What The World Can Learn From China’s Travel Restart After Covid-19

McKinsey’s latest article outlines how China’s domestic travel industry is tentatively starting to recover now that lockdown is over. They say the first thing people want to spend money on is eating out and the second is travel. Their consumer survey shows confidence in domestic travel is rising, although they don’t predict peak recovery to occur until September/October. Their research also shows that outdoor scenic attractions are the most popular destinations for future travel, with self-driven or self-guided much preferred over anything involving groups.

Even More Innovation From Airbnb

While the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted its core business, Airbnb used its home-sharing platform to create new ways for consumers around the world to attend off-the-beaten-path events from their couches. The Online Experiences platform now enables hosts to continue earning income by offering experiences on Zoom. These virtual events can be booked through the site or app.

Tactical Agility in The Age of Covid

This story by Mark Ritson (I’m a bit of a fan), is about a guy called James Wilkes, who set up a New Zealand business called Triple Nine Farms, producing some of the world’s best beef to supply premier retailers and restaurants. He was set to launch 1 April, 2020. Instead, the country went into lockdown and Wilkes describes the experience as “like waking up in a Jeffrey Archer novel”. This is how he pivoted his business.

Clever Ketchup

Clever innovation from Heinz to provide hours of entertainment with their 570-piece jigsaw puzzle with pieces in an identical shade of red.

And Finally, Here’s an Idea We Could Adapt…..

In collaboration with the Clio Awards, NYC & Company is searching for agencies to participate in the revitalisation of the New York City brand by pitching one or all of three deliverables, all on a pro bono basis.

Insights - 8 May 2020

A few weeks ago, an agency strategist friend of mine told me she was tasked with “kick-starting the retail economy” – and she’s not wrong. Mark Ritson expressed this sentiment as well when he said, “Advertising and marketing are selfish pursuits. They serve a single brand and a single organisation. But if you step back and look at their overall impact, they perform the broader function of helping to turn the wheels of our economy. And right now – other than clean hands, more respirators and two metres between you and your best mate, we need that more than anything.” It’s stirring stuff and as we start progressing through the levels we’re all going to have to do our part.

Mark Read of WPP offers his thoughts on navigating the second half of 2020

In this Campaign interview, Mark Read outlines his plans for navigating the second half of 2020, amidst tough conditions. His message to clients is to communicate with their customers, market yourself if you can, innovate, invest in e-commerce and direct-to-consumer channels and focus on maximum return on investment.

And keeping it local, here’s the best of New Zealand-based insights work this week, being executed at great speed to market:

YoungShand talks “emergency innovation”

This week, YoungShand executive producer Kat Cox has written a great piece on innovation. She quotes Mosas Ma from FutureLab Consulting, who says the most relevant type of innovation right now, “may not be the perfect idea, but rapidly executed, it’s the one that saves your bacon… emergency innovation.” The good people at YoungShand have included emerging trends and tech innovations that have piqued their interest so far. Great effort, guys.

Are we in a rush to get to level 2?

For all the current criticism in market aimed at the government and their prolonged Covid-19 restrictions, Horizon’s new research shows that 73% of New Zealanders want an unrushed, considered move to Level 2.

Global agility reporting with GlobalWebIndex

GlobalWebIndex has released its third extensive insights report, which contains New Zealand data. This impressive global piece was still infield across 17 countries on 27th April – now that’s speed to market! The 100-page report includes everything from attitudes towards government, shopping online, personal finances, the economy to approval for brand activity. Kiwis overall are feeling pretty positive about what’s happening here compared to the rest of the world. Approval for the way the government has handled Covid-19 is 87% compared to an average 75% globally. Australia is 73%, the UK 54% and the US, unsurprisingly, is at 44%. Although 93% of New Zealanders say Covid-19 will have a big or dramatic impact on the economy, only 34% say the same about their personal or household finances. I’ve pulled out all the New Zealand stats on approval levels for brand communications, which show that being practical, pitching in and lowering costs appeals the most.

Welcome back, New Zealand – with JCDecaux

What’s next for brands, asks JCDecaux, as we move through the levels? This strong piece is based on their own very recent local insights and includes 10 strategic opportunities that brands can take up. Smart work. And they quote Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” What more could you want?

New Covid-19 audience segments

It had to happen, didn’t it? Covid-19-based audience segments. One of the 300 strategists (that’s a lot of strategists) based at Hills & Knowlton Strategies in London, wrote a paper that suggested the following segmentation, based on response to uncertainty. Kate Gomes, strategy director, Energy & Industrials, suggested the following breakdown: authority advocates, positive posters, overwhelmed observers, data doubters, scared silencers. And she says there are other qualities that are guiding our behaviour as never before. To cite a few extremes: rebelliousness/obedience, caring responsibilities, personal risk, collectivism/individualism and revolutionary/status quo.

If this doesn’t float your boat, take a look at EY’s first Future Consumer Index. They have developed four segments, based on research of 4859 people across five countries (UK, France, Germany, Canada and US), which reflect consumer behaviours: “cut deep”, “stay calm, carry on”, “save and stockpile” and “hibernate and spend”. Overall, 42% of respondents believe the way they shop will fundamentally change as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. When it comes to brands and products, 34% of consumers indicate they would pay more for local products, 25% for trusted brands and 23% for ethical products.

Read more.

Brand loyalty

A recent US-based study shows how the lack of availability of products and other Covid-19 contributing factors has led to brand discovery and trial by consumers. The study by Mindshare, the sixth of a weekly survey tracking consumer sentiment, shows 64% of American consumers say they miss one or more of the brands they haven’t been able to buy during the pandemic, and they are buying new ones instead. It also found most consumers are likely to continue buying new brands (62%) or try new services (59%), even after the pandemic is over.

Open offices will get a lot more open again

Mark Wilson from Fast Company predicts changes to the open office environment. Going forward, things being considered are fresh air flows, providing more space between people and whether sinks will become primary in entries instead of self-service coffee?

Facebook – crowd tangle

Facebook has made available a free, custom-built and real-time New Zealand social media monitor called CrowdTangle, which gives live insights on information campaigns across the country during Covid-19. Nice one, FB.

Laugh-out-loud funny on the merits of being idle while employed

I’m not sure how I found this funny piece from Justin Lines on this site but I’ve since learned that The Idler magazine was founded in 1993, and has since morphed into multiple touchpoints including books, a festival, an academy with online courses and a comprehensive website. Justine Lines meantime is a marketer and researcher and currently at Kantar. Worth a read to cheer yourself up.

Rewriting our imaginations

This essay by Kim Stanley Robinson, a science fiction writer, was published in The New Yorker and is part of the magazine’s free Covid-19 content. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but will appeal to those who enjoy cultural commentary and looking at things from a different perspective. He says, “We’re getting a different sense of our place in history… We realise that what we do now, well or badly, will be remembered later on. This sense of enacting history matters. For some of us, it partly compensates for the disruption of our lives.”

And from Nielsen, a suggested watch for Advertisers and Agencies covering topics such as changes in media consumption and the implications for advertisers. How are other advertisers responding? What is resonating with consumers? What’s next for advertisers?


Insights - 1 May 2020

My favourite word at the moment is pivot. It drives some people crazy with its overuse, but in my mind if you’re pivoting in these strange times you’re doing okay. As we move into level 3 this week, many businesses will be called upon to respond and adapt to continued challenging restrictions. I was reading about invention and creativity some time ago; they usually don’t happen in relaxed, calm conditions, but are more often associated with stress, aggravation and friction. As they say, “Innovation is borne out of necessity”, but I prefer these words from Albert Einstein:

Out of clutter, find simplicity.

From discord, find harmony.

In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.

What Should Ads Look Like in the Time of Recession?

So asks Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at System 1, UK. More importantly, he asks: “Are people responding any differently to ads today?” He says 55% of advertisers have paused campaigns in response to Covid-19 (SMI estimates for April 20 compared to April 19 suggest 50% in NZ), and believes marketers need the answers to real questions before advertising can move forward. Based on new data and ad testing from System 1, and commissioned by LinkedIn’s B2B Institute, his article answers the following critical questions: “What is the mood of the nation? Has there been a pivot in what society values and, if so, what towards? Will the ads I made and aired prior to the crisis continue to connect in the current context? What kinds of ads will and won’t connect during this crisis?”

The good news is:

1. There has been no reduction in advertising’s ability to connect with people, despite research showing the general deterioration in mood across many nations sampled.

2. Certain advertising characteristics are connecting slightly better today and some aren’t connecting as well.

3. Companies should embrace generosity of spirit, humour, humility and spontaneity in their communications and working practices; these are values that will connect with people in the current climate.

The World Has Become Increasingly Left-Brained

It’s been well documented that advertising is becoming less effective, according to IPA effectiveness data. Left-brain dominance is driving some of these effects, says Orlando Wood, with far-reaching implications for politics, business and culture. It explains a lot! The article (above) touches on this fascinating insight and asks if we’re on the verge of a right-brain reset. It also quotes from Wood’s book Lemon, released in October 2019 by IPA. Here’s an overview of the book, aptly named “A Slice of Lemon” for those interested in reading more.

Established Characters Provide Consistency in a Time of Crisis

One of the features that drives success in advertising overall and particularly during a crisis is the use of established characters. “Characters also have the benefit of operating in a slightly parallel brand world; one that can remain unaffected by world events and allows brands to play with humour,” says Orlando Wood (article above). This is very much in line with local thinking and the success of Pak’n’Save’s stickman. David Thomason discusses the merits of using a fluent device or consistent distinct brand property in more depth.

Mark Ritson on Orlando Wood

Mark Ritson doesn’t hold back (when does he ever?) on the way he feels about some of the generic “same same” or “sunsets and empty streets” style of advertising that he’s seen during the Covid-19 period. He makes for an entertaining read, saying, “Just because we are in a strange and ‘unprecedented’ time does not mean that the usual rules of branding are deferred. You still need to be distinctive.” He references Wood’s work and gives shout-outs to Guinness and their St Patrick’s Day ad, also to Colgate and their #Smilestrong, which we’ve seen here.


The Surprising Ways that Staying Home is Reshaping the Media Landscape

Chris Kalkandis is Senior Media Strategist at Young Shand and the team there have regularly been producing articles, such as How to guide your brand through the emotional and behavioural impacts of COVID-19, today. The latest one, however, looks at what’s been happening to media in New Zealand. I’m not sure it’s as surprising as the title suggests, but their new rules are practical and solid: measure performance; return to community; digital presence first; focus around the news; don’t forget traditional channels; and brand safety.

A Strong Case for Advertising

There’s a whole lot of interesting TV centric information on Think Box from current viewing stats to case studies to research pieces. This week they posted an article which I hadn’t previously seen from UK Behavioural scientist and author of The Choice Factory, Richard Shotton. They say…Richard outlines why life-changing events such as we are living through now will change customers purchasing habits (possibly for quite some time) – in particular, brand switching, so brands must avoid being left behind. He explains … your customers are more likely to switch to your competitors, and your competitors’ customers are more likely to switch to you. Richard says “Now is not the time to stop advertising. You don’t want to land on the wrong side of this flux. More than ever you should be investing in advertising”

73% of New Zealanders say Use my Mobile Data for Covid-19 Tracking


The latest findings from Horizon Research show that many of us would support police and health authorities using our personal mobile data to help track and trace those who have been in contact with COVID-19. See the breakdown by age group here:

Covid-19 Video Diaries - Ipsos MORI Takes an Ethnographic Approach

Ipsos MORI has created a compilation of video diaries in the UK to bring to life the challenges people are experiencing in their everyday lives.

TRA special Covid-19 Conversation Monitor

The Research Agency built a tool to help clients and agencies get a real-time view of what’s on Kiwi minds right now. Powered by machine learning, TRA’s real-time monitor brings together Zavy social media smarts, aggregated and anonymised data from New Zealanders’ online conversations and hundreds of thousands of New Zealand news articles into one dashboard. There is a very basic dashboard that everyone can access and a subscription model in place to get full access to the tool – which allows users to search for their own brand, competitor brands, or any other topic that interests them. Head of TRA’s Strategy, Carl Sarney said, “Our clients are finding it useful to learn what messages land well in this new context (and how to avoid messages that are likely to land badly)”.

And if you’re interested in finding out more, TRA Partner Colleen Ryan and Carl Sarney are sharing their learnings via the webinar, ‘If only you knew….’ It will draw on insights from their Covid-19 Conversation Monitor and Kiwi Codes research. It takes place Wednesday May 6 at 11am. Click here to find out more.

Rewind or Fast Forward

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the first findings from Dentsu Aegis Network’s 3-month tracking research project, which sets out to understand the needs and drivers motivating consumer behaviours at the various stages throughout Covid-19 in New Zealand, and it doesn’t disappoint. The good work from Rachel Anderson-Cormack, Murray Streets, Joeline D’Souza and Claire Beatson takes the form of a comprehensive report which aims, in their words, ‘to discriminate between short-term needs, that will come and go, and the more enduring and fundamental changes’. It is broken down into The New Essentials, The New Me and The New Systems and each step contains insights, trends and what it means for businesses and brands.

A New Normal: Dreaming Up Fresh Possibilities for Entertainment

I thought this article sounded like fun, because I’ve been thinking not all TV shows have translated well into the virtual realm. Graham Norton is definitely not as exciting or funny when he’s interviewing one-on-one without a live audience, but Ricky Gervais has come into his own with his live, daily Twitter video feeds. Oh, the fun. This article explores key shifts in how we create, consume, and imagine entertainment.

And finally, gotta love a good cartoon… This is from the New Yorker:

“Who cares what it is? I’m just happy we still get delivery.”

Insights - 23 April 2020

P&G Doubles-Down

This week’s most uplifting news was that New Zealand’s lockdown efforts are being reflected by a steady flattening of the Covid-19 curve; vaccine trials will begin in humans in the UK and Australia; and P & G has increased its marketing investment.

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While this approach won’t be viable for every sector unfortunately, there has been a flurry of articles and reports on the different ways to navigate through these challenging times. Here are a few of my finds:

The Long, Short or Dark?

Peter Field doesn’t disappoint with his paper, Advertising in a Recession – Long, Short or Dark? A Guide to Advertising Best Practice in Recession, which outlines the value in investing in brand during a recession. It draws on learnings from his examination of 50 case studies via IPA, covering the past recession (2008-09). It’s a thoroughly researched, well-written piece offering tailored advice for specific scenarios.

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Optimism in local insights

It always surprises me that more people haven’t heard of Horizon Research. Graeme Colman and his talented team operate a robust operation, which has seen them at the forefront of conducting research for the Ministry of Health throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Their most recent piece, deployed over the Easter period, seeks to understand consumer attitudes and anticipated behaviour during the next six months. It offers some much needed optimism and hope for retail, travel and hospitality industries.

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Great efforts by Dentsu Aegis Network

A substantial body of work is captured by Dentsu Aegis Network Belgium with The Brand Recovery Series. It summarises and curates the most useful and relevant content so you don’t have to, according to the site. Most useful is the inclusion of a Peter Field podcast and the original Tellis & Tellis recessionary research, which is referenced often by Mark Ritson.

But more importantly, the clever people at Dentsu Aegis Network New Zealand have done a stellar job of pulling together local insights. They have not only committed to conducting quant research every week for the next three months, but have also provided a guide to media planning in New Zealand, 10 principles to guiding your team through uncharted waters by CEO Rob Harvey, and a solid deck on Navigating Through Uncertain Times.

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WARC asks – What happens if I stop advertising?

This presentation of easy-to-digest graphics sets out to reveal the consequences of a brand going dark in the short and long term and, on the flipside, shows what happens if a brand keeps advertising during a recession. Insights-based, it pulls on data from Kantar Millward Brown, Peter Field, TIVo and IPA.

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For those interested in social listening

Pulsar has created a special dashboard mapping the #New Normal. It shows trends and new emerging behaviours such as the rising interest in learning a new language, taking out a loan, getting a will and birds chirping.

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Update on trust research

Every year Edelman Intelligence produces a very comprehensive trust barometer report based on 34,000+ respondents across 28 markets. They had aptly described the theme for trust in 2020 as being focused on competence and ethics. This report provides some context of the underlying compliance issues some countries are experiencing during Covid-19. Click here for a summary and report.

They have also produced a special report on brand trust and the coronavirus pandemic. It covers 12 markets but excludes Australia and is unduly influenced by high skewing results from China and India.

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Do we trust the news?

Horizon Research has also just released a survey on how much New Zealanders trust the news, which media sources rate most trustworthy, and how concerned people are over the use of the term “fake” news by politicians and others in an effort to discredit the media.

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The announcement of media sector $ support

And speaking of trust in NZ media, Kris Faafoi, The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media announced the first stage of support initiatives for the media sector in the form of a $ 50 million package in efforts to provide relief to struggling media companies. Faafoi, a former press gallery journalist, said “journalism was an important part of democracy”.

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This storm will pass, says Sapiens author

Just in case you haven’t read it yet, Yuval Noah Harari’s insightful essay “The world after coronavirus” on the Financial Times website is free to read and calls for global unity, solidarity and co-operation in the fight against Covid-19, as well as making some piercing criticisms against the US. He says, “This storm will pass. But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come.”

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The future of events

Facebook has put together ideas and tips if you need to shift your experiences online, in its Experiential & Virtual Playbook, so I asked events expert James Wotton (also ex-Bauer) for his thoughts. He said, “I think it’s important that…we remember that physical events are not dead. We have seen the rise and fall of virtual technologies over the years yet we all still crave face-to-face human connection. Watching ‘Beyoncé’s Homecoming’ on Netflix while in quarantine did not even come close to the experience of seeing her perform at Wembley to 90,000 screaming fans. Don’t get me wrong, events will be different as a result of COVID-19 and we will begin to utilise these new technologies and push their capabilities to create unforgettable experiences – but nothing will replace Beyoncé at Wembley.” Hell yes, James!

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If you’re looking for management inspo…

Harvard Business Review has made Covid-19-related articles free. There are a wide range of articles, including “How to talk to your team when the future is uncertain”, “Sho