Brands and advertisers are calling on strategists to help them navigate through the challenges of marketing during COVID-19, according to a new report from WARC.
The Future of Strategy Report 2020, which surveyed 1,2000 senior strategists, found that COVID-19 has driven an increasing appreciation of strategy, with 54 per cent of strategists proving to be an integral part of a brands’ response to COVID-19.
Just one per cent had no involvement in plans.
This was despite the fact 87 per cent of strategists reported that their clients had reduced budgets due to the pandemic.
“The challenges and emergent questions facing brands are complex and well beyond fundamental communications strategy,” said Publicis Group North America chief strategy officer Brent Nelson.
“The pressing need to account for greater and greater uncertainty has made one thing blindingly clear: the value and need for senior, experienced and diversely skilled planning and account talent.”
Despite the growing appreciation for strategists, cuts to strategy teams have been common, found the report.
Junior strategists are particularly vulnerable in the current climate, with 41 per cent of respondents revealing junior strategists had been made redundant or laid-off.
WARC warned such cuts could result in a lack of new and diverse entering the industry.
“Diversity means including people across the ethnic, cultural, physical ability, gender and sexuality spectrum. Diverse teams will push to break stereotypes by pushing success stories, being champions for non-traditional casting and to call out group thinking in the advertising process,” said Ogilvy Hong Kong strategist Kanika Bali.
The rise of short-termism
The study also found the pandemic has brought with it a rise in ‘short-termism’, as brands look for quick revenue.
Such an approach poses an inherent threat to strategists.
However, brands are also seeking advice on how they can convey their ‘purpose’ during this time and have called on strategists to help.
Many strategists feel now is an opportunity to change purposeful marketing for the better.
WARC managing editor, research & rankings Amy Rodgers said: “WARC’s Future of Strategy 2020 report reveals that strategists have been crucial to the pandemic response and have had a chance to shine.
“However, staff and budget cuts are a threat to the discipline. Additionally, the shift to short-termism brought on by the crisis to stimulate quick sales is leaving strategists feeling that their role and value are under threat.”
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