At Happiness we believe a world in perpetual change can only thrive with perpetual creativity. What impact does COVID-19 make on our future have yet to be discovered. Change is upon us, that’s for certain. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s in times of discomfort that progress is happening. A recession is not the time to keep quiet as only 8% of people believe brands should stop advertising (source: KANTAR). A recession remains an opportunity to drive progress for brands and corporations that put the right mix of action, the right creativity and experimentation on their agenda in the Outbreak & Crisis stage of COVID-19.

Learning from the SARS outbreak in 2003 brands can plan the next phases of their marketing and communication plans. Happiness worked out a simple model that allows us to consult how brands can behave across 3 phases of the COVID-19 outbreak. The first phase is what’s behind us; the Outbreak (and confinement of course) which has brought upon dramatic shifts in consumer behavior and spending and have pushed brands to move from ads to acts as we recommended before, versus shutting down communication altogether. Now that multiple markets are softening confinement rules, the 2nd phase, the phase of Initial Recovery is starting.

What does this mean for brands, what are the implications for marketing and communication plans, and what’s the prediction moving into Normal 2.0?

1. From Outbreak to Recovery

Brands that benefited so far are the ones who moved From Ads to Acts, and have not kept silent. This action is important to maintain in the transition from Outbreak to Recovery. On a macro economical effect we will see shoots of recovery for categories that have been hit, based on new and more purchase interest from consumers. Brands can begin to redress the balance and move investment back. To maximize ROI and conversion, it is however essential they don’t simply go back to Ads, but instead use the right creativity and balance of “Acts and Ads” is kept.

Continue to align with consumer behavior and base their strategies and executions on this, you won’t fail. An example from China; Decathlon introduced its New Retail experience, showing responsibility towards society by not making people rush to the physical store, instead it launched a mobile game with TMall, integrated its membership award system promoting pickup services and speedy deliveries.

2. From Recovery to Normal 2.0

Data from Recovery as the "in between normals" will inform the strategies of brands moving forward. What is clear is that in Normal 2.0 the economy is recovering, and the recovery of the businesses will depend on their means to connect with consumers respecting their Normal 2.0.

Don’t go back to your previous Marketing & Communication plan, instead adapt it on the basis of what you have learned while continuing to tap in the power of creativity to build value into the brand. In the Normal 2.0’s light it’s important to adapt to this newfound reality.

Here’s a compilation of the rules we stick to:

  • Go for digital conversations: Consumers are more connected than ever, and have become more comfortable than before voicing their opinions. Engage!
  • Ideas drive value, and ROI: Don’t confuse ideas and tactics like promotions, or KOL hires. Those are ways to execute the idea. Go for ideas, this makes your brand / product unique
  • Be responsible towards society: Chip in, do your part to strengthen society in the Normal 2.0. Act with purpose, don’t just go for ads
  • Health & Wellbeing: Obviously! This is a new priority for many, don’t ignore it.
  • Be optimistic: Optimism spreads, its contagious. Like a smile is. Make sure you are lifting the moods through creativity and ideas that connect meaningfully
  • Digital first consumer journey: Duh

The right creativity remains a means to adapt to the situation. More than ever it is the right creativity that will get brands through any situation. We can all be very excited about the Normal 2.0 and the rise of the power of creativity!

About Happiness Saigon Happiness Saigon, an FCB alliance, is an award winning creative connectivity agency based in Saigon, Vietnam and Brussels, Belgium. The agency is well-known to design connected brands that trigger emotions that trigger business. The agency believes in the power of creativity, the power of humanity and in happiness, that fuels both. The very multicultural and multitalented crew of Happiness has won numerous awards, including Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions and have signed for Vietnam’s most awarded creative idea with UNICEF #NoFilter. Some of Happiness’ work is even featured in the V&A Museum London.

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Source: Happiness Saigon