Surf the second wave

[25 September] Let’s not pretend that a second wave of Covid-19 isn’t a bad thing so it’s time to learn to surf. As cases rise, Governments are struggling to get a grip on the spread of the virus and stricter restrictions have been threatened. The next six months, or longer, could have complex regulations in place, so it’s important for brands to prepare for several eventualities. Out of Home delivers campaigns at scale, with flexibility across formats themselves, but within booking terms and conditions too. Digital Out of Home is particularly valuable in a changing landscape, offering multiple creatives, fast turnaround and high traffic locations.

According to an exclusive new article on WARC, written by Hereward Feldwick, research director at Basis Research London, and the lead researcher on its Isolation Nation programme, there was a four phase model of crisis processing. These were:

  • Alarm – pre-early lockdown, when nobody really knew what was happening and overreactions were rife. People sought clarity.
  • Adaptation – life under lockdown as defined by early short-term challenges: work and childcare now taking place at home. Steps into online shopping for many.
  • Acclimation – After the initial anxiety, a new pace of life emerged with some people even beginning to enjoy aspects of lockdown.
  • Acceptance – the growing realisation that this is a long-term change we’re all facing.

Not dissimilar from the five stages of grief model, which also ends in acceptance, Feldwick notes the importance of a further stage: meaning making.

“But this process of making meaning is fragile – and even as we begin to return to normality and try to take positive learnings from the experience, there is a widespread and growing sense that a second wave lurks on the horizon.”

“There’s real anger. Frustration.” As new restrictions come into force nationally and loose guidance becomes law, this interrupted making of meaning will be important for brands to understand.

Crucially, people have been here before. But it’s worse. “The novelty has worn off and resources – both fiscal and emotional – have been exhausted. Having their process of making meaning interrupted by a second wave may be more than many can bear,” says Feldwick.

Brands will need to get serious about their roles, learn from the last lockdown’s mistakes, and put people before profit.

OOH’s role

What we saw earlier in the year was the importance of Out of Home campaigns, delivering broadcast messaging right across Northern Ireland. Early in March, media consumption was high however it has fallen in recent months, as too has trust in many sources. Out of Home intersects audiences at various touchpoints, and we found its effectiveness didn’t wane, even in March and April when the toughest restrictions were applied. With locations still experiencing high footfall, and the flexibility offered by Digital OOH, it was the medium of choice for messages of support and public information.

As we move through Autumn and Christmas gets ever closer, brands can approach the coming months confident that their messaging will continue to engage with audiences in key locations. In particular with the robust Digital OOH network in NI, we have the ability to switch on (and off) messaging to specific regions or postcodes. This level of targeting with relevant information will increase engagement and optimise marketing spend in locations of highest importance.