I Give It A Couple Of Weeks. Tops.
That’s what we do.
Up and down.
Down and up.
‘We’re apart but never been closer’.
‘We’re in this together’.
‘We’re different but the same’.
Clap for the NHS. Clap for the carers. Clap for those wonderful people who stack our shelves (‘No, burrata? Oh well, we’re in this together I suppose’). Clap for the bin men, for the posties, the couriers and the shopkeepers. We’re a nation of them after all. Open all hours. Clap for the drivers, buses, tubes and trains. Clap for the birdsong, clap for the empty roads, clap for tranquility, clap for our new found respect for the world around us. How have we not appreciated it before? Hurrah to it all.
Made Of More.
Clap for each other. We’re apart but never been closer. We’re in this together. We’re different but the same. A new world order has been established. Let’s clap for that too. Clap. It feels so good to clap.
‘Nothing will ever be the same again’.
‘Hey New Normal. We’ve been expecting you’.
I give it a couple of weeks. Tops.
Of course nothing will be the same again - well at least not for some time anyway. Because when we walk out of here, pockets full of anti-bac and loo roll, we’ll be walking out into a shit storm of such dystopian disorder Margaret Attwood would demand a re-write.
The New Abnormal.
Of course COVID-19 has brought us together, a togetherness born of fear, uncertainty, suppression, repression. The most basic needs of humanity are, for the first time for many, under threat . If Maslow happened to pop by right now, he wouldn’t bother with anything above base level. But it’s false, forced, fake, a moment not a transition, a time not a shift and it is far, far from sustainable and far, far from a reflection of the new normal.
Economically, the cumulative loss to global GDP over 2020 and 2021 from the pandemic crisis could be around USD $9 trillion (IMF).
Over 90 countries have applied for emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund, an unprecedented figure (Forbes).
Predictions from the International Monetary Fund warn that the economic fallout is already “way worse” than the global financial crisis of 2008, and they anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.
In the UK, leading forecasters expect an economic contraction greater than 6% this year, compared to 4.2% in 2009.
Societal inequalities will continue to deepen. COVID-19 is hitting societies at its core, and the most vulnerable are hit the hardest. Early evidence suggests that the health and economic impacts of the virus are being borne disproportionately by the poorer people, and if not properly addressed through policy now, the social crisis caused by the pandemic will likely increase the inequality, exclusion, discrimination and global unemployment in both the medium and long term (United Nations).
Hospitality and retail workers, who will bear the brunt of closures, are already among the lowest paid in Britain. They are also the ones who won’t be able to fall back on reserves as more than half of poorer households have no savings (The Economist).
“The coronavirus will be a catastrophe for the poor. This pandemic will be especially punishing for low-income workers, just as they were starting to reverse a generation of widening inequality.” - Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
And clearly employment levels are tanking. Between the last two weeks of March and the end of April, The Department for Work and Pensions revealed that nearly 1.8 million people applied for universal credit.
At time of writing nearly a quarter of employees in Britain have been furloughed in the last fortnight, a total of 6.3m jobs by 800,000 companies with claims amounting to £8 billion and that’s just to 3rd May.
However, next week it is reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce plans to wind down the scheme from July as part of an attempt to get people back to work.
An escalating cash crisis meant that 59% of firms reported they have – at most – three months of funds in reserve (BBC). About 30% of firms have sent home between 75% and 100% of their workforce.
The immediate effects will mean acute hardship for households across the nation, and could also mean that companies will be unable to pick up production as quickly as they otherwise could have once lockdown measures ease. Signalling a long, slow, stuttering recovery. As well as a knock on effect to consumer spending which will continue to drop.
Forecasts predict consumer spending will continue to slip by an unprecedented amount over the next few months, especially across discretionary items such as restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres that have all been closed since March 20th. A reduction in spending on hotels, transport and housing goods will also add to the blow to the economy, as these items make up more than 40% of family spending.
However, all, is of course, far from lost.
Cometh the hour, cometh the (wo)man.
It’s against this backdrop brands and organisations have a second chance, a chance to contribute rather than commentate, to face forward and not look back, one that we suggest we grab with open arms.
Because we know that trust in brands and organisations looks pretty shabby. (Thank you Edelman). And we are all too aware that for many years now that most people wouldn’t give a diddly if most brands disappeared tomorrow. (Thank you Havas).
But now is our time.
To step up.
To win back the hearts and minds of the public through the efforts we make on their behalf over the coming weeks, months and years.
It’s clear the economy needs a jump start of pimped-up defibrillator proportions and in that respect we have perhaps never been so in need (as long as we don’t let it go to our heads).
Be A Key Worker.
Refocus on what you do, what you do best, what you once did best, go about your business and ditch the platitudes about ‘being here for you’, ‘we’re apart but together’, ‘uncertain times’ flannel. Be certain. Grow your business and grow your client’s business. That’s what you’re there for and not to win superficial creative awards. Be a key worker, economically, culturally, socially and earn your right to be classed as one.
Do-Pieces Not Think-Pieces.
Who knew there were so many great thinkers in the world, those with such certainty of the way in and the way out that The Titanic would surely still be afloat, doing booze cruises around The Canaries, had any one of these great thinkers been at the wheel. We’ve never really subscribed to the belief that ‘those who can, do, those who can’t, teach’ …. But now? Well perhaps so. And to ensure the irony of such venom isn’t lost on the fact this is in itself a think-piece, 70% of our clients are doing work now that they hadn’t planned to do before COVID-19. Just Do It. (There’s an idea in there somewhere).
Stop looking at your competitors and outdoing them. Look to your customers and how you can help them. Ditch CX, and the whole notion of Customer Experiences - it legitimises things you want to do rather than things that are right to do. Call it HX if you like, Helpful Experiences, that should see you right.
Very. And Only Very.
What’s apparent through COVID-19 is that marketing judgement isn’t what it is, or at least what it should be, maybe explained by the removal of the pre-test research crutch. Now, let's be clear, research is only there to fill the hole that intuitive excellence has left behind but, if you do need to turn to it, look only to the top box score. Very distinctive, very unique, very everything and anything. In today’s world, there simply is no place for ‘quite’.
Remind people that WFH is the old exception and not the new norm. Once it’s safe to do so, we want people out and not in, together and not alone, doing what they used to do. Populate the bars, the cafes, the restaurants and hotels like never before. It will help. If you are perhaps one of the few who can, then do it for the many who need you to. Who knew that fun could be so important. WFO - Working From Office - the new/old WFH.
Not now but soon. And this is not to be miserable, a killjoy, dismissive of the power and beauty of mutual, community and societal recognition - far from it. No Thursday has passed without loud, proud recognition of those who have stepped up and are stepping up. We’ve shed tears like the best of you, the best of us. So perhaps less controversially, Stop ‘Just’ Clapping because the last time we checked, we could see little correlation between clapping and economic revival.
Guide, lead, inspire.
Do good business by doing good business. Make the world a better place through actions not platitudes.
Take our chance.
Do our bit.
It can be the making of us.
It will be the making of us.