Publicis global head of futures and insights Tom Goodwin says the industry’s response to the coronavirus crisis has been “pathetic” so far.
Speaking to Jules Lund on Marketers in Pyjamas, Goodwin said he’s been “irritated” by how most marketers and advertisers have responded.
“It seems we tend to have a very superficial way to solve problems. Right now, everyone needs to self isolate and stay at home wherever possible and for some reason, the wonderful people of advertising think it’s upon us to do nice print campaigns telling people to stay home.
“I think that’s just a pathetic way to help.”
Goodwin said advertisers and marketers should be using “intelligence” and its “networks” to find out the big problems right now, and solve those.
“Think about the problems that are going to exist in about two or three weeks time and those that can exist in about a month or two. Then prioritising them and figuring out a way to solve them.”
He conceded, however, that marketing during a pandemic is difficult and it’s easy to feel helpless.
“You realise that it’s not the best use of your time to be going to work and figuring out how to sell more, for example, pancakes in five months time.”
However, he added: “There’s a massive amount of human capital and human ingenuity, time, money and imagination that could come together in times like this.”
Speaking on how the crisis will impact society and human behaviour, Goodwin said it won’t last as long as some might assume.
“You need something that perhaps is going to be significantly worse than this. It’s easy to assume somehow that this is going to carry on forever. It’s quite likely that a lot of human behaviour will return to normal, like shaking people’s hand is something that’s been around for about six thousand years.”
While he said human behaviour will return to normal, he added it is a good time for advertisers to pivot their strategy and make deep changes.
“I’d like to think that advertisers will realise that more of their ads should move towards places where they can be more in control, and be more agile with their messaging. I’m not sure they will.
“This is probably a wonderful time to set up a company, and to make really big, deep changes to one. But we have to accept that old habits die really, really hard.
“These are great times to be mapping out what’s changing, and what’s not changing. We’re in good times to be open-minded, to change, but to do so in quite a considered way.”
On the pros and cons of marketing during the crisis, Goodwin said everyone should be asking: ‘what am I doing at the moment and should I be carrying on doing it?’
He said some pulling should be pulling content, while others should be changing the tone to adjust the national and global sentiment.
“If you’re pulling stuff, then you should only be delaying,” he added. “Everyone knows the times where the economy looks to be contracting, are fantastically good times to be investing and building a brand.”
He also said now is not the time to rein in finances.
“Every single person out there should not be pulling back finances wherever they should be. They should be having a much more sensible, thoughtful and robust plan to attack this.”