Covid, who?

For the majority of 2020 and 2021, Europe’s marketing and advertising industry was ruled, dictated and governed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, less than a year later it’s like it never happened.

When I landed in London in May of 2022, my first culture shock was just how many people were out and about. A shock exacerbated by the empty streets and buildings found across Auckland for almost two whole years. 

The pandemic changed a lot about the way we operate in our industry. Hybrid working is now the norm,
there is more care and compassion in our communications, and more money is being thrown into digital
like never before. 

However after two years, and countless losses, in London it’s almost like these changes just happened overnight, for no reason. When clients speak of pivoting away from traditional media to digital, they use Covid as an example as to why, but often don’t expand on the ‘why’.

Million dollar briefs and thousands of man hours are being altered simply without further explanation. When I, as a Kiwi, try to approach the subject, I’m often asked to not speak about the pandemic, or told that people are ‘sick of talking about it.’ 

Although this is completely fair, as an industry should we not be looking at the pandemic as a learning experience, rather than a forbidden cosmic event that reshaped almost every part of how we operated for almost three years?

What we’re seeing now internationally is caution and experimentation fighting each other for a place in the new marketing landscape. On one hand the lessons from a forgotten past are still etched in the mind of many marketers, on the other, a new reality full of opportunities is just within reach. 

Courtney Devereux.

Here in London, the balance is clear. Many large scale big tech companies with solid budgets are starting to experiment more than ever before. They’re reworking entire playbooks, and relooking at every part of their offering to meet a new consumer, a new breed of individual. 

Soon these changes will trickle down to New Zealand, and the new intentions from these behemoths will be clear for everyone to see; they’ve got a chance to restart. Something that wouldn’t have been as easy had the pandemic not opened our minds to accelerated change.  

Those smaller, less financially fortunate companies are still clearly playing it safe, but are now starting to push the sides of the boxes they’ve been confined to for the last three years. Across the industry we’re seeing rebrandings spike and endless rewrites of manifestos and creative ethos. 

It seems brands are taking this opportunity to reinvent themselves. Almost a phoenix out of the ashes, if you will. However, big or small, advertising, creatives or marketers, it seems all in the industry have one thing in common; they’re not f*cking around anymore. 

Now as we enter a new era of experimental opportunity, it’s important we look back on the event that led us here. And how there is often no light without darkness. 

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted our industry more than anyone thought plausible at the time, however it seems the biggest changes have only just begun. 

This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

Courtney Devereux

About Courtney Devereux

Courtney Devereux is former Editor of and Senior Account Manager for a global design agency in London.

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