Mark Ritson wrote an article for MarketingWeek titled Marketing in the time of Covid-19 (17 March 2020).

« I have been struck these last few days by just how few leaders there really are when it is time to lead. »

« Here is what leadership is. It’s making the best possible decision and then sticking to it. »

« There were a few exceptions this week. A big shout out to LVMH, which has already turned around its manufacturing lines at brands like Guerlain, Parfums Christian Dior and Givenchy to mass manufacture hand sanitisers for French hospitals. It’s a little gesture but the kind of thing that gets remembered many years later. »

« Marks & Spencer spent most of World War II manufacturing ration clothing for the British public. No one remembers that these days, but during the heyday of M&S in the 60s and 70s it was a commonly known and widely admired fact. They were with us when the shit hit the fan, and we were with them afterwards because of it. »

« It’s a similar story when it comes to employees… Kudos, therefore, to the likes of Levi’s, Lush and Apple, which have moved quickly to reassure their employees that they will be paid despite global store closures.  »

« And a massive go-fuck-yourself to Sir Richard Branson for asking his 8,500 employees at Virgin Atlantic to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave. While it’s an incredibly tough time for all the airlines, the actions of Virgin Atlantic illustrate all too clearly what happens when things switch from Powerpoint to the present. Branson is famous for talking and writing about his focus on employees. “Clients,” he once mused, “do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” We now know that is total cock… It would cost Sir Richard – net worth around £3bn – about 1% of that fortune to ensure his employees receive a £500-a-week payment to support them and their families during the eight-week hiatus. Obviously, that was too much to ask. »

« Think long, not short.

If there is one major marketing challenging now facing most big brands it is what to do with their newly slashed marketing budget. If you’ve just lost half of it, the temptation is to dump it all into shorter-term performance marketing and sales promotions.

That would be an error. No amount of hot deals and clever sales activation can stimulate a market that is currently terrified, locked inside their homes and unsure of their future.

Confronted with a 50% cut in marketing budgets, the smarter play is to actually focus more of it on the longer-term brand-building mission. Performance marketing is going to underperform in the current market conditions. »

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