What a dramatic change this Covid19 has brought to our lives, whether it is the business or for us human beings. India was just recovering from lockdown, business was slowly getting on its feet and the second wave has struck. The past two months have been very stressful and most states have now gone into partial lockdown. Undoubtedly, all business establishments irrespective of their strength and type of industry have been affected.
Businesses, jobs, are still seeing great upheavals; the world is also seeing a tectonic shift in the way brands and people communicate. Indian Advertising all through this crisis for the past one and a half year has been on their feet by innovating new methods of communication for their brands to reach out to their consumers. Brand communication has become more empathetic, keeping in mind the sentiments and moods of the consumer in general.
Today we are in conversation with the Industry leaders on how the business has been impacted due to the second wave. Also talking to them on what will be the strategies for their brands going forward
Tarun Rai – Chairman & Group CEO South Asia – Wunderman Thompson,
The second wave has taken everyone by surprise. Clearly, as a country, we had declared victory too early. We also did not get our health infrastructure in place and that’s the reason why we are seeing the tragic shortages of beds, oxygen, medicines… Right now, our focus is, first and foremost, on our employees, their and their families’ well-being. We have taken many measures to try and help our employees in need. We have also told all our staff to prioritize the health and safety of their families over any work issue. Our clients have been extremely understanding and supportive. From the business point of view, I believe that while the second wave is more viscous than the first, there is, at least, a lot of experience that we’ve had over the last year. We understand the virus better and we do have vaccines now. We might be struggling to vaccinate our population at the speed we want to, but it’s only a question of time. There is no ‘if’, only ‘when’. We also know, from the experience of other countries, that the second wave is sharper but shorter. We can’t say for sure but reports indicate that the peak will be in May itself. And we have seen from last year, that as the wave recedes, there is a lot of pent-up demand. People are resilient and they will reward brands that won’t desert them in a crisis. While certain industries may take a bit longer than two months to recover, most others will rebound quickly. The second half of the year, in any case, is the more important half of the year for most categories and the situation should be much better in the July-December period. I believe we will have a semblance of normalcy post-July.
Dheeraj Sinha, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer – South Asia, Leo Burnett.
The repercussions of the second wave and resulting lockdown are difficult to predict at this point. It will largely depend on how the infection charts shape up over the next few months. There is a good possibility that we see infections plateau over the coming months owing to hyper vaccination drives and mass immunity because of the large number of infections. If that happens we can expect the year to end on a positive note whereas we emerge from the second wave we will see people release the pent-up demand of the past few months. On the other hand, if we do go into a third wave the repercussions may be far more severe with people facing the loss of income and battling emotional stress.
Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India
With this unprecedented scenario, unfortunately, there will be an impact. Clients are being cautious and many reassessing their marketing plans (delaying launches, campaigns, activities, etc.) for the next few months.
I am hoping that by mid-June things will slowly get back on track. What will help is to have a good monsoon and hopefully a strong rebound in the 2nd quarter (July-Sept). This will allow the consumer sentiment to step up and thus lead to a strong festive season. But, everything depends on the vaccination speed and opening of the states and the markets.
Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & CEO, FCB India.
The first wave and the second wave of Covid 19 have been completely different in scale and magnitude. During the first wave, the overall sentiments were around irritation and impatience but in this second wave, there is a deep sense of loss, despair, and grief. In the first wave, infection and deaths were numbered, in the second wave, these are names.
Consumers are experiencing a whole different magnitude of emotional stress. It’s extremely important for brands to be tone-sensitive, authentic, and helpful. Brands need to not wait for the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but walk shoulder-to-shoulder with consumers through this dark tunnel. When trusted institutions and leaders fail the people, it’s an opportunity for brands to fill that gap. We’ve seen many brands and companies rising to the occasion and helping consumers tide through this time of crisis.
This helpfulness and partnership is something consumers will not forget for a long time to come. And in the good times, these brands and companies will be rewarded.
Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO India, dentsu.
The business has certainly been impacted. However, sometime back we did see recovery but now, due to the lockdown across states, which is in a piecemeal pattern; it is difficult to obtain a long-term perspective. The impact is there and the global agencies have also given their revised figures on the Indian economy. It is more or less like last year on the impact and likely recovery. Despite this, certain
Industries such as e-commerce or sectors that are digitally proficient are doing well and will continue to do so. But yes, sectors that require physical interaction with their customers will suffer for some time more.
The positive thing is that for the past few days, we have been witnessing the flattening of the curve. Hopefully, by June end, things should start stabilizing. If things start to normalize in the coming months, we will start seeing recovery from the 3rd quarter of this financial year and will continue post-March.
What we now need to adapt is the wait and watch strategy. Rather than focusing on pure marketing, we must concentrate on advertising that is more purpose or empathy-driven. At the current juncture, there is a need for the brands to connect and support their customers or users. Thus, you ought to be there, currently, there is a definite need to reach out to the customers through continued brand messaging.
Naresh Gupta – Co-Founder and Head Intern at The Bang in the Middle
If the lockdown is a short lockdown and the country reopens soon, the impact on advertising will be minimal. But if the lockdown lasts another 2 months, the industry will see a big downturn. There is a residual impact of IPL and brands are investing more in digital, but the sustenance will not come from these steps. The industry will need the economy to open up and fire all cylinders for advertising to have a decent year. The industry will also battle the talent crunch in a far bigger way. There are many who will leave the industry permanently and many will not want to join. That’s the bigger crisis the industry will face.
Rajiv Gopinath, CCO, Starcom.
April ’21 was a strong month for spends and was larger than the full AMJ quarter last year. Adding May and June 21, which are muted, will result in just about ok AMJ 21.
JAS is traditionally the weakest quarter in terms of spends, and we should get by with a slightly better spend than in AMJ 21, with the sentiment still muted
The last qtr (festive) looks to be a bumper in spends, with bulk of IPL (probable) and T20 WC contributing to spending.
Overall, in terms of spending 2021 should be at least 18-20% better than 2020
Looking at last year, brands enjoyed a largely better CPRP from Apr to July. This should reflect in learning for brands that fall in the periphery of essentials and completely discretionary. Brands will spend in line with demand, and that will push the upward momentum to about Sept.
Along with essential daily use products, other large spenders like e-commerce, and categories that have got an impetus with accelerated behaviour shifts over the last year, will continue to spend. Festive will add that extra lunge towards the end of the year with Auto and durables.
From the brands communication point of view, this is really a critical time for brands to come forward as responsible entities who have a stake in the wellbeing of their consumers. This is the time to Act not create ads. As we weather the storm of one of the most challenging humanitarian crisis, people are looking for support systems which will help make a real difference in their lives – be it aggregating helplines, proving oxygen or distributing food to frontline workers. Brands should work towards creating platforms through which they can offer genuine support systems for people.