Shreyas Kulkarni

A look at Ogilvy's report on how brands can navigate through a crisis

From taking lessons from past crises, to dissecting the present scenario for better understanding, this report is a helpful guide for brands.

In retrospect, certain events offer tremendous learning - what we should, or could, have done, instead. This is exactly what Ogilvy did in a new report aimed at helping brands navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Chris Reitermann, chief executive, Asia and Greater China, Ogilvy, says, in the report, “We revisited SARS and the 2008 Global Economic Crisis. We looked for potential learnings on how some brands found ways to rebound stronger. How new business models were shaped during crisis, and how bold moves and timely investment enabled winning brands to gain disproportionate share."

"We have looked at how we can apply these learnings, our understanding of today’s environment, and the specific situations surrounding COVID-19 to come up with actionable guidance for brands," he added.

"Whilst there is still uncertainty about how and when the virus will be contained, what we do know, for sure, is that the crisis will pass," says Reitermann.

"We believe, and history supports this. Agile and competitively-minded brands, that get it right in the tough times, can capture competitive share and be best-placed to capitalise on the eventual rebound and beyond,” he said.

The report includes five timely lessons from the past, which are relevant today:

1. ‘Black Swan’ events break or make a brand.

2. There will be an after event period.

3. There will be new behaviour and opportunities.

4. Key is to managing all time horizons.

5. Be prepared.

Due to COVID-19, there will be a change in purchasing behaviour that may become the norm because the longer the crisis goes on, the more we get used to living like this. And, there is a strong possibility the changes we experience will become the new normal.

The changes, which the virus will influence, include emergency purchases, feel good consumption, home purchases, and so on.

As per the report, the brands have to make efforts to matter across three time horizons. They are: Right now (acute outbreak phase), Medium term (recovery phase), and Long term (new normal).

Brands in the 'Right now’ phase should do this:

1. Activate purpose and optimise funnel mix.

2. Be where people are now, and support what they’re doing.

3. Create meaningful action and support for public health and safety.

4. Support partners and associates to manage through constraints.

5. Build meaningful utility and content to help people tide over crisis time.

6. Contribute with corporate responsibility initiatives that matter to relief measures.

7. Add cheer and positivity to people’s lives as they struggle with uncertain times.

During the recovery phase:

1. Make up for lost ground by leveraging shifts.

2. Affected categories will rebound differently.

3. Category first-timers are an opportunity to convert into regular users.

4. Business and services born during the crisis may provide opportunities for disruption and competitive edge.

During the new normal, the report suggests that the brands transform themselves to lead in a changing landscape. Read the entire report right here: