Back to the marketing drawing board
Yet Sherwood-Smith quickly recognised that they needed to start again with their broader marketing campaign: “People’s needs were really evolving quickly so one of the first thing we did was talk to people about what they really missed.” It was an approach which quickly established that consumers were fixated on the question of when things will get back to normal. This posed a question for the brand: how do we capture that moment moving forward?
The brand had previously launched the Love My Local digital platform, which encourages pub-goers to support their local pub in a safe and responsible way. The app enabled consumers to support pubs, bars and restaurants in lockdown by buying from online food and drink menus; it took online payments and gathered customer data. The app also provided a technology-based lifeline to pubs when they could reopen by enabling them to take payments and deliver. Sherwood-Smith says that My Local was really focused on helping local pubs get back on their feet: “Success for pubs means opening again.”
Success also meant going back to the marketing drawing board and scrapping the product-based campaign the team was planning prior to lockdown. A decision that Ryan Newey, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Fold 7 describes as “painful”. Yet it was clear it was the only option. He adds: “For a brand to be too introverted in the time of COVID just doesn't make sense. The question for brands is, is there a message for the greater good.”
Yet he was equally clear that didn’t simply mean adding to the noise of the Coronavirus advertising that was already on screens. Newey describes how even friends outside of the industry asked him: “You are not making another Coronavirus ad are you?”
He explains: “During the novelty of the first stage of lockdown everyone was bonding over the shared sense of weirdness.” Yet this initial stage was clearly not going to last forever, he adds: “There was a definite shift in sentiment. From a creative point of view, we have seen lots of creativity across the industry going into lockdown particularly with regards to how you make an ad. Yet as we went on there was a real sea of sameness.”
In response to this the team focused on the consumer insights and the shift in culture afoot. This equated to focusing on the strong sense of what consumers were missing; “The smell of your local, your favourite bar stool, the good old days kind of vibe,” Newey adds.