These are uncertain times. Amid lockdowns, recession, vaccination rollouts and optimism for the future, this is a volatile and complex period. Navigating the recovery as the world springs back from the pandemic is the biggest issue facing marketers today.
To help brands and marketers plan ahead, commercial radio’s industry body Radiocentre this week (2 March) staged its latest ‘Tuning In’ event, ‘Advertising in Uncertain Times’. Bringing together marketers, agencies, radio professionals, economists and politicians, the livestream offered insight and advice for marketers on how to find success in these chaotic times.
Here we present highlights, takeaways and nuggets from the event that can help marketers plan for success.
Understanding life after lockdown
Speaker: Global’s director of research and insight Sarah Gale, presenting original research from Global’s ‘Voice of the Nation’ study.
People are starting to dream about the future and are making plans. Couples are getting engaged again, families are looking to move home and holidays are being researched. A sense of optimism is returning, according to Global’s ‘Voice of the Nation’ study.
Global, which runs stations including Heart, Capital and LBC, has interviewed 12,000 people since March last year, and found that fear and uncertainty have been the two strongest emotions for most people during the pandemic. But with the vaccine rollout and the announcement of a roadmap for easing the UK lockdown, fear and uncertainty reached their lowest level for a year earlier this month.
“Although it’s very early days, we can tentatively say that we’re starting to move our plans from the back burner and prioritise those life events that we’ve put on hold,” says Gale. The research has strong lessons for marketers, she says. They need to be agile, adaptable and engender trust. “Understand your audiences, follow their rhythms and make sure you stay in tune with their needs.”
Maximising performance in uncertain times
Speakers: Lucas Bergmans, Cazoo’s brand director, and Sam Austin, audio group director at Goodstuff
Online used-car retailer Cazoo has created one of the most successful UK media launches of the pandemic. Founded in 2018 by Alex Chesterman, the entrepreneur behind Zoopla and LoveFilm, Cazoo worked with media agency Goodstuff to launch nationally on TV and radio in early 2020, just as the pandemic outbreak took hold. Despite these inauspicious circumstances, the brand navigated through the lockdowns and uncertainty, and managed to sell 10,000 cars in its first full year of trading – the pandemic year – with a turnover of £150m.
Brand director Lucas Bergmans says that Cazoo has built an impressive prompted awareness of 63% through its radio and TV campaigns. “Radio has played a key role in our launch plans, and we’ve been able to adjust and adapt really well both in terms of our creative and our media approach,” he says.
Radiocentre’s latest research findings on radio listening during the pandemic
Speakers: Lucy Barrett, client director and Kamilah Kamara, insight manager, Radiocentre
This session analyses new research, which Radiocentre commissioned from consultancy DRG. The Industry body now has five pieces of listener research since the pandemic began and had already established that the work-from-home audience were big listeners. ‘New Ways of Working, New Ways of Connecting‘ found nearly half the UK population has worked from home during lockdown and this is likely to continue for a large group of office workers for some time to come.
There has been a huge increase in radio listening among home workers during lockdown, with 40% of commercial radio listeners listening to an extra two hours a day. The DRG research shows that 83% of the work-from-home audience are aged between 35 and 54, 84% are in the ABC1 socio-economic groups and nearly two thirds own their homes. Their incomes are 45% higher than the national average.
Over half of them agree that when they hear something advertised on the radio, they’ll often look it up online, providing a huge opportunity to engage with this previously difficult-to-reach audience. Some 63% of this group have saved money since the pandemic began.
Commercial radio listeners who work from home are itching to spend their money, with much higher projected spend increases compared to May 2020. This is an attractive audience for advertisers and one that can be readily reached through commercial radio advertising.
An economic overview in uncertain times
Speaker: Linda Yueh, former BBC chief business correspondent and Oxford economics professor
Leading economist Linda Yueh underlined the importance for brands of continuing to advertise as unemployment rises and national output stalls. “In the last recession from a decade ago, firms that spent… and importantly, didn’t think about it as spending on advertising, but investing in advertising, in marketing, in R&D, actually did better than firms that cut, because they had positive associations with their products,” she says.
How to stack the odds in uncertain times
Speaker: Andy Nairn, co-founder of creative agency Lucky Generals (clients include Amazon, The Co-op and Yorkshire Tea)
Strategic planner Andy Nairn presented ideas from his new book Go Luck Yourself to show how marketers could improve chances of brand success by creating their own luck.
He quoted US country singer Dolly Parton’s advice to “find out who you are and do it on purpose”. In an era of change, marketers must have a very clear sense of the identity of their brand, its direction and what it is for, he said.
Singer-songwriter Tom Waits switches on two radios tuned to different music stations and melds the different genres together to create a new sound. “I think the best creativity… takes an element from one place and mixes and moulds it with another,” says Nairn.
Meanwhile, Beyonce made her 2016 album ‘Lemonade’ after discovering the infidelities of her husband. “She took lemons that life had dealt her, and she literally created ‘Lemonade’. I think the big lesson for us as marketers is, very often, bad luck or what appears to be bad luck at the time can be turned into good luck if you have the right attitude.”