2020 has been the year that none of us expected or could have ever planned for. With so much uncertainty, looking ahead to anything has become a huge challenge.
In this new age, we believe fluidity and adaptability are crucial to survival - and to meet clients’ and customers’ rapidly changing needs. It is now essential to ensure that campaigns and live events (and the teams that create them!) are agile, flexible, and able to pivot plans at a second’s notice.
In times of turmoil, being disruptive can be an advantage. Notably, out of the chaos of the last global recession, successful challenger brands began to emerge in almost every sector - from Brewdog in F&B to The Ordinary in beauty.
These companies rebelled against the status quo and capitalised on the emergence of digital marketing channels with exciting offers that responded to the shifting cultural landscapes around them. Older, more established brands, followed suit - adopting strategies to appear more genuine and authentic to audiences.
But right now? You can’t disrupt the game when the sands are constantly shifting beneath you. Forget the status quo, we’re currently living in the age of ‘status-no’.
Here’s how to handle it:
THE FIRST SHIFT: PHYSICAL CONTACT POINTS FOR BRANDS ARE SHRINKING
With so much disruption happening to the ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping experience, it’s the agile brands that are reconnecting with customers in personal and innovative ways to build loyalty and engagement.
During the lockdown, the beauty industry has been a front runner in this space. The lack of testing and demos in-store means that savvy brands like Nars and Laura Mercier have ramped up their experiential marketing activity, combining innovative at-home mailer experiences with Zoom tutorials to bring their products to their customers.
Retail giant Amazon moves into the luxury space with an augmented reality experience ‘Luxury Stores’ and, in the absence of Fashion Week, traditional fashion brands, including Moschino are developing breathtakingly creative event displays like Jeremy Scott’s puppet runway.
LOOK LEFT PREDICTS…
When it comes to maintaining relations with customers, the automobile industry is a sector where building loyalty through experience cannot be ignored. New car sales have been steadily declining over the past few years and getting a customer to commit to a new purchase is often a lengthy process for all automobile brands. As the landscape of car buying continues to evolve, ensuring that consumers are connected to the experience of the brand world is vital.
The return of the ‘lipstick effect’, where consumers indulge in smaller, affordable luxuries to treat themselves during tough times. In our increasingly socially conscious world, we’re also encouraged to buy less and buy better. We believe both of these factors hold promise for the luxury industries to make an impact with intimate and virtual events right now.
THE SECOND SHIFT: A FLOATING POOL OF TALENT
With the live events scene so greatly reduced, it comes as no surprise that sadly, many events agencies are making redundancies - some of up to 70% of their workforce. This purge has resulted in many incredibly talented creatives, producers, stage managers, lighting teams, sound teams, show callers...(the list goes on!) waiting in the wings to get back to what they do best.
The hashtag campaign #wemakevents has made a global impact on social media, with over 45k posts shared by talented professionals who are desperate to get back to work. Hundreds of stunts have been carried out, including the Red Alert lighting show across London and New York, which attracted global headlines.
Unfortunately, some of these brilliant events professionals are having to leave their chosen careers to support themselves in other lines of work. It is also unknown when the bigger agencies will be able to rebuild themselves back to the capacity they once enjoyed, and when the right professionals will find themselves back in their perfect roles again.
LOOK LEFT PREDICTS…
There will be the continued rise of agile, collective-based models of agency, which offer huge benefits to both clients and members in times of uncertainty. This will continue across the marketing sphere where these progressive new businesses are making serious ground.
Working with a collective that knows its talent pool inside out allows a brand to build a bespoke team from scratch and use the very right person for the role. It is access to a black book of talent that will enable smart brands to stand out from the competition by using agile, talented individuals to bring their strategies to life in new and impactful ways.
SHIFT THREE: FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE
It may seem risky to invest in a time of uncertainty, but research has shown that brands that retained and - even increased - marketing spend during unstable periods actually increased profits through a commitment to visibility and interaction with audiences.
Just before lockdown hit, Facebook was about to push live with its ‘Born on Instagram’ event series. As countries across the globe shut down, the event wasn’t panned - instead, Facebook changed direction by going completely online-only. In a global first, the brand used a ‘‘virtual giphy booth’ developed by the Look Left collective’s go-to content creators, Studio Social. Of the pivot in strategy, founder, Richard Ling, said;
“We worked with the Facebook India team to quickly move the concept to digital execution. In the climate, and using the insights we have on what makes content super-shareable, the results were incredible. Within three months, 175m impressions had been generated from the booth and now Facebook is looking to roll it out globally.”
LOOK LEFT PREDICTS
For the brands that are willing to be the first to start hosting physical events experiences again, there is a golden opportunity to build loyalty.
We expect that teams will need to use more innovative digital technologies and real creative brainpower to ensure event materials can live on beyond the experience itself, and brands will demand teams and suppliers that can operate with extreme flexibility.
SHIFT 4: GLOBAL HUB POINTS
In today’s climate, the ability to scale up, down, and back again in the blink of an eye is vital. Foreign travel has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus crisis and the ability to get teams on the ground from one location to another is a challenging task.
A global network is essential to be able to put trusted talent into situations at the drop of a hat. Not only does this protect budgets from being eaten up by flights and accommodation, but working with local freelancers ensures you have someone on the ground who is connected and sympathetic to the local culture and operations.
LOOK LEFT PREDICTS
With the downsizing of major events agencies and no time limit on when the world will be moving to ‘business as usual’, satellite and template approaches to rolling out events and experiences will become the norm.
Removing the opportunities to move teams around the globe will put increased importance on the need for brands and businesses to have access to trusted operators on the ground in an event location - and the people who know where to find them.
So, what now?
How do we conclude when nothing is conclusive right now? Brands that hide from their customers during this time are missing an opportunity to create deeper connections and could well be leaving the door open for their competitors to walk through and steal their share.
READY TO GO WITH YOUR EVENT? HERE’S HOW WE CAN HELP:
01. CREATIVITY ACROSS PLATFORMS
We know that event formats are more fluid than ever right now. Look Left’s global collective is diverse in its approach and experience, with members who work across physical and digital spheres. We work with the suppliers and freelancers at the bleeding edge of innovation who are making a serious impact.
02. AGILE BY NATURE
We’re low on overheads and high on talent. We understand that the events business needs to change to survive, and our rulebreaking model and way of working is the most agile out there.
Look Left’s mission is to build our event teams using the very best people for the job. As the industry gets back on its feet, the demand for this way of working is now absolutely vital. It gives access to work for people who are exceptional at what they do, giving brands an opportunity to maximise their event investment.
None of us know what is around the corner when living and working in such uncertain times. The key is to be able to deploy a plan b (or c!) when required with little or no impact on the overall goal of an event. Look Left has introduced an inbuilt contingency planner within all of its projects to ensure that we can prepare clients for a smooth transition as plans shape and change.
03. A GLOBAL OUTLOOK
Our remote collective lives and works across the world with hands-on experience in multiple markets. With travel restrictions in place and constantly changing, our members are on the ground and ready where we need them to be at a moment’s notice.
04. TRANSPARENT AND TRUTHFUL
We’re not going to sugarcoat it, things are difficult right now. We believe that the best way to work with an honest and transparent approach that focuses on solution-finding.
Look Left operates an open book model, our costs are transparent and the benefits of our excellent supplier relationships are passed directly to our clients. We do this to prevent costly overheads from chipping away at budgets and putting the spend where it will make an impact: the team and the execution.