Business Owners, Agencies need COVID-19 Learning to Survive Post Pandemic – Maurice Ugwonoh
Award-winning creative expert and marketing communications specialist, Maurice Ugwonoh has further confirmed that approach to brand communications would never totally be the same as it were pre COVID-19 era but would aggressively feature and deploy lessons from the crisis to better the brand and its marketing post the pandemic.
Maurice, who is the Creative Director, Noah’s Ark Communications made this observation while speaking during a live Instagram chat put together Brandcrunch on Wednesday as he noted under whatever condition, “creativity is the currency of this industry”.
Highlighting the common thread between Marketing and Marketing communications during the session moderated by O’Lekan Babatunde, Publisher, Brandcrunch, Maurice pointed out that though brands need marketing to thrive, effective marketing communications skills is the vehicle that brings about the much-desired sales.
“Pre COVID-19, agencies, I mean up and running, good agencies create compelling stories”, he says, “it is not enough for brands to send briefs, agencies look at the emerging markets scenarios and local environments, to find trends that are very similar to the place of the business and propose ideas to clients” adding that while this is still partly valid, a number of dynamics have come into the industry, over the last four months, to alter the landscape.
“A lot of clients were caught unaware and they don’t know what to say or communicate, simple communications – hygiene and washing of hands, they were slow to communicate because of the crisis brought with it so many uncertainties”
According to him, it is now a defining moment as digital technology is taking a central role in marketing communications more than ever before, meetings are now mostly remote and more frequently; more productive without wasting of the hitherto “normal” transit time; Working From Home (WHF) is now the order of the day in a bid to comply with government directives and observe health agencies’ safety recommendations in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic.
In all these, agencies and clients approach to communication and marketing communications have changed, digital technological tools (though still emerging) have altered the field of play just as it provides easy and instant feedback to communications, he enthused.
“Life is never stagnant; you deep a foot into a pool of flowing water, when you removed the leg and step it into the again, I tell you the water isn’t the same as earlier! It’s flowing and will never be the same. To circumvent the pertinent lockdown, our approach to TV ads, Outdoor ads has changed while tech know-how is helping to blaze a new trail in these regards”.
Any need for outdoor adverts when the streets are deserted with the protracted “Stay at Home” order occasioned by the lockdown? He queried. Similarly, in view of the fact that shooting a TV commercial demands a large number of casts and crew coming together which runs against current constraint, it behooves on the creative agencies to be proactive, become more digitally and technologically savvy.
The result is that agencies fall back on technology such as converting TV scripts to digital animation commercials. “And some of these are doing exceptionally good”, he declared.
While maintaining that proactive actions are needed in the business of creativity to be relevant to the clients’ business by showing a deep understanding of the consumers, Maurice highlighted that agencies must creatively devise opportunities for their brands to engage and bond with consumers, noting this is very critical especially in a crisis situation.
According to the keynote speaker, Hypo, a bleach brand in the Noah’s Ark’s kitty, has so far used the opportunity of the crisis to reemphasize its essence and creatively engage the target public on the importance of proper hygiene and effective hand washing. “And the brand’s scorecard is showing well for this”, both in equity and sales.
Drawing learning from his agency’s work for Airtel – “The in-laws”, the Creative director also noted that creative use of technology would help to structure the direction of communication and determine what will work with the consumers. “Viewers’ comments, likes, and other interactions on the In-laws’ trailer provide a monument of data for the brand. Adequately mined, the information deduced will guide the brand custodians – agencies and clients- in taking the most appropriate next line of action in alignment with consumers’ preference, he noted.
He reiterates that effective and timely communication during the pandemic gives consumers the ability to decide on what product they can “ride and bed” with for efficiency and safety at such a period of uncertainties. He vouchsafes for a good, relevant, and strong in-store promo material to guide the consumer at the point of purchase.
For him, “this is possible because clients are now more involved in the creative process because the business is also demanding more from them”.
Would there be a total return to status-quo the post-pandemic? Maurice doubts this with an assured measure of certainty. “Some of these changes that have up the ante will be with us for a long time. We better learn to live with them”, he advised.
For instance, the workspace has been altered for life, you don’t necessarily need to be at your desk in the office 5 working days a week; physical meeting with clients which hitherto waste enormous time and resources is a ritual no longer needed; a lot more drifts to animation commercials will be witnessed and a lot more. The earlier agencies and clients begin to come to terms with these fresh realities the better for us, agencies; the clients, and businesses, he explained.
While noting that a current statistics painted a gloomy picture that businesses are in a dire-straight claiming just “one out of every 10 businesses will survive this perilous waters”! Maurice optimistically noted that “creativity is the most important and potent force in business”, he advised that business owners should never allow the learning of this season to go to waste.