The lockdown has set us back. We are running a single-legged race to serve our clients as we have always relied on other creative partners to bring alive our ideas; and most of them being action-based services, have now come to a complete halt. But the truth is, nothing can dampen the spirit of our ad industry. As far as I know, restless agencies and people within the industry are trying their best and their hardest to make the most of their creativity when it comes to partnering with their clients. They’re using the limited resources that they have at hand to bring their ideas to life. And hence I feel the focus on the core, on the idea. In the absence of flashy, big budget execution, going back to basics is coming in handy. And those whose basics are strong are the ones managing in a reasonably better way.
KEEPING THE WHEELS OF THE BUSINESS RUNNING
Like any passionate professional in the industry, I might say that we should be aggressive and keep communicating, so that the categories we function in don’t feel the impact. But it would be stupid to suggest to all of our brands to keep going the way they were before. Each brand is built on certain values and only if the times call for it and allow it, should we take those values forward, keeping the right tonality in mind. Some categories have taken a massive beating, as the timing is genuinely not right for them. The lifestyle category, which was on the rise, with our fast-moving young nation, has remained unmoved. The health and wellness categories are already in demand, as are some of the e-commerce and digital products/apps. Today, the consumer sentiment is very different from how it was ten weeks ago. ‘Precaution’ is going to be a key word, going forward. So categories aligned with that will definitely do well, while others will have to work on rebuilding and strengthening their relationship with consumers. Going forward, brand loyalty will take a beating, as consumers’ priorities will have undergone a sea of change and we’ll see this reflected in consumption patterns.
ADDRESSING THE SITUATION CREATIVELY
For last 11 years, we benefited from being a small unit and we continue to get less impacted purely due to the way we are structured. We always enjoyed coming together, sitting across the table and addressing an issue. So we are missing that human vibe, which is key to our business, as we are in the people’s business, after all. Having said that, we’re a strong-headed community. All of us are a bit bananas! We think from the heart, and love challenges (even though we routinely crib about them). In that sense, we are blessed, because we get to solve this problem in a creative way, just like we’ve been doing throughout the time that we have spent in this line of work. That’s the one thing we know how to do well.
LEARNING TO BE ‘AATM-NIRBHAR’
One interesting thing that has happened during the lockdown is that it has also forced us to become self-reliant. So many of us have learnt so many new things, just in order to survive and live well. I hope we take these learnings forward. They won’t just make us well-rounded (or rather aatm nirbhar) individuals but will also serve as stress-busters for some.
Some of my lockdown discoveries are:
- The utensil grip got firmer in the last few weeks and some of us are no longer wasting water and liquid soap these days.
- We have finally got time to see those beautiful patterns on the flooring and how they complement the house while we try to keep them clean and bright
- Engineering skills being applied while using the broom now - how 30% slope wipe helps create more time for oneself versus 70%
- The voting finger responsibly reach the switches to reflect responsibility
- Our vision has improved in lockdown – we can differentiate between jeera (cumin seeds) and saunf (fennel seeds)
Some of these household chores have pushed us marginally ahead from a non-athletic nation to fitter nation.
In conclusion, these are really challenging times for our industry. And the only way to shine will be to be real, honest, loyal and hardworking. And that applies to everything – from brands to agencies to people.