Paying it forward

“We will be judged on our capacity for compassion.”  So said the UK’s Chancellor last week as he announced the first tranche in a support package intended to keep the UK afloat.

I was reminded of these words and the sentiment behind them when discussing our rapidly moving project plans with a client this morning.  His words rang so true:

‘We will all be judged on how we act right now and how we show up’.

It struck me that the future attractiveness of our brands to consumers and shoppers and even the attractiveness of our businesses to future potential employees, may depend more on how we show up right now, than on anything that has ever gone before.  For many, never has it been truer that ‘doing well by doing good’ is how we need to act right now.  Paying it forward needs to be the way we show up.  Get the response correct now and we have the potential to create a different and long-lasting brand relationship.  Get it wrong and some businesses might rue the day…

Lots has been written in the past week about how marketers have responded to the global crisis and much of Mark Ritson’s views I whole heartedly agree with.  Less of the ‘clever’ communications please and more direct support.  So, less of the un-coupling of the Golden Arches and similarly targeted messages from the major car manufacturers to support social distancing.  More please of doing what is critically needed – meeting consumer needs, right now.

Whether or not you think that a certain luxury brand’s move to manufacturing hand sanitisers was a cynical, publicity exploiting stunt perhaps misses the point.  They showed up with something that met an immediate need.  Thank you, Dyson, Rolls Royce and McLaren, for converting manufacturing lines to the critical need for ventilators.  Thank you Mercedes Formula One for teaming up with University College London to create a ventilator replacement within a week.  Thanks to the likes of Unilever, Nestlé and BP for their product, cash and charitable support announced over the past week.  Thanks to everyone supporting our wonderful NHS staff with discounted or free product, from the corporate giants through to the independents.  Thanks to everyone, global corporations through to the one-off businesses, all doing their bit and really showing up.

But another thought struck me.  In these days where the focus on mental health is even keener than normal, perhaps there’s room for corporately sponsored virtual social circles.  Could there be Nescafé or Yorkshire Tea sponsored virtual coffee/tea mornings designed to get people together, virtually, in their local communities?  Once life returns to a semblance of normality, could this be extended to the high street with big brand sponsored community drop-in coffee shops, run by the community in the community?  Today’s imposed isolation simply brings into sharper focus a major societal blight – the loneliness felt by simply too many in our communities under normal circumstances.

I admit that there is no chance of McLaren or Rolls Royce making it into my consideration set for a new car, whatever they do right now.  But, equally, I know for certain which chain of pubs I won’t be buying my first post-isolation beer in and precisely where I won’t be buying my next pair of trainers….

Leave a Reply