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Picture: UNSPLASH/HELLO I'M NIK
Picture: UNSPLASH/HELLO I'M NIK

The role of advertising and brand communications will be forever altered by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. It won’t be business as usual post this crisis. Instead, brands will need to find ways to better serve their communities in a way that takes humanity forward.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns imposed by many countries around the world will have a long-lasting effect on consumer habits. What we have learnt to value during this pandemic is family, friendships and human connections over material possessions. Rampant materialism will no longer be celebrated to the same extent as before.

During the lockdown consumers have learnt to make do with less and this habit will persist post the crisis. Consumers will start to question their purchases more carefully and be more mindful of how they spend their money. 

Online shopping saw a surge during the lockdown, even among those who have previously been hesitant to embrace it. The challenge for brands post this crisis will be to marry their digital and physical brand experiences. 

The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for brands to live their purpose authentically. Some got it right, many did not. Those that failed to live an authentic purpose — or even worse, tried to capitalise on the situation — will ultimately lose consumer loyalty and support. 

As far as the advertising industry is concerned, I predict that clients will walk away from agencies they can’t relate to. At the same time, agencies will walk away from clients that don’t respect their input. Trust, connections and connectivity will be highly valued, while the ability to deliver timeously will continue to be paramount.

More than merely offering superficial communication services, agencies that thrive will be those that take the time to develop a deep understanding of their clients’ business and the strategy driving that business, and those that are emotionally attuned to where their clients are going. 

About the author: Nombini Mehlomakulu is a director at Ebony+Ivory. Picture: SUPPLIED
About the author: Nombini Mehlomakulu is a director at Ebony+Ivory. Picture: SUPPLIED

Retainers will become a thing of the past as all work becomes project based. This will ensure more equitable remuneration: agencies won’t be able to take advantage of retainers, nor will clients be able to demand more than the value of what they are paying for.

Project-based work will force the industry to work faster, using more innovation. It will rely on the fact that the agency has a deep understanding of the client’s business. 

While consultants will continue to pose a threat to agencies, the ability of agencies to be nimble, agile, flexible and innovative will ultimately stand them in good stead. Clients will eventually come to realise that agencies offer a less formulaic, more cost-effective and more rapidly deployed solution, particularly as agencies gear up to offer data-driven services. Consultancies, however, will continue to try to poach our best people, which is why it’s going to be imperative that we implement retention strategies to retain our most talented staff. 

In a post-Covid-19 world we need to make sure we understand the affect of brutally long hours on our staff. The more our teams can ensure they have a healthy work-life balance, the more the industry will benefit from their innovative ability to problem solve.

While life after this crisis will undoubtedly go on, it will never truly return to what we knew as normal. It will be incumbent on all agencies to embrace the new normal with brand communications that resonate with changing consumer needs. 

This article was paid for by Ebony+Ivory.

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