Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Ad people: Now is the time to think small - again.

Photo Credit; Jana Traboulsi (a double play on "death to the capital" and "let the capital topple")
Covid-19 has blown the top on everything. Companies, budget, recruitment, shopping, spending, you name it - it is all in flux. People are divided in two camps the "this is the end" and the "this is the end and a chance to a new beginning". This is a blog that revolves around advertising, marketing, branding - mostly in Lebanon (though I do tend to go further afield at times). Lebanon has been facing the perfect storm: Corona, financial meltdown, capital controls, lack of liquidity, crashing budgets, closing companies, socio-political unrest, and and and.... Already prior to the Coronavirus outbreak estimates that there will be less than 100 million Dollar in ad spend this year were released by ad person Naji Boulos (whom I trust in opinion and figures).
Now that we are in a Coronavirus world that number will become a fraction of what it was. I know the livelihood of many people will be affected by it. A marketing manager at a major supermarket chain in Lebanon told me that it was the first time she saw people calculating their bill before getting to the cashier to avoid over-budgeting. People are looking in the trash in broad daylight in Lebanon. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is trying to save their penny.
Paradoxically, am glad idiotic advertising is over. All those corny ads are now gone. Army day? Put everything in camouflage. Valentine? Paint it red and add a heart. New year? Add fireworks. And on all occasions remember to make the logo bigger.
But as Watson (Lucy Liu) told Holmes (John Lee Miller) in that wonderful episode in Elementary: "What if we are looking at it the wrong way?" - I apologize in advance to all those whose lives have been affected by the turmoil. But was it not time for things to come to a screeching halt to assess and reorganize and regroup and downsize and prioritize and maybe cut down and shrink and "think small" (to go back to that eternal VW Beetle mantra)? I am glad the time has come.
With less, creativity flows, with limited resources we can produce more, without the excess we can be more agile.
Of course we could have done so without - as Dr. Nicole Herman said (brilliantly played by Geena Davis in Grey's Anatomy) - "recommending a brain tumor" or a Coronavirus for that matter. Yet as the Lebanese saying goes "if it does not get bigger it does not get smaller". And bigger it did go!
Now is the time to get smaller. Again.