Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Author: Jovan Stojanović, CEO DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
The whole world is facing something that clearly none of us was ready for. No one can, with any certainty, list off all the likely devastating consequences of the situation. Many lives will be lost and governments all around the world are absolutely focused on ensuring their health systems keep victim numbers as low as possible. Clearly, and without exception, this is being done with insufficient capacity under impossible deadlines that are grinding us down. When it’s all over and we take stock, it will be easy enough to judge who reacted better or worse, but for now we have to be aware that this is undiscovered territory and each and every attempt deserves our admiration and respect. In the end, these processes and decisions are for the experts and the people in charge, especially doctors, and our job is to listen to the professionals.
All industries, companies, and individuals, including the United Group, United Media and Direct Media, have a responsibility to help in any way they can under these unprecedented circumstances. Prompt response from all of us will prove vital and probably save many lives. Countries’ systems of support to help keep companies open, whether through one-off or systemic short-to-medium term assistance, will be equally important.
But what comes then? Nobody can predict the economic effects of this pandemic with any certainty, but they will obviously be huge. When we talk about help, I have always believed we can all, without exception, help most in the area of our core business. Media have helped and continue to help most by informing people on how to cope and repeating that information a hundred of times a day. Agencies can help with activities to raise awareness of the seriousness of the situation. Like many other agencies, DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions has reacted quickly and, with Alma Quattro, supported applause for doctors at 20:00, as well as preparing and getting out creative calls for responsible behaviour and organising webinars on advertising and management during this time of crisis. In other words, for now, we are doing our jobs as best we can.
And what about manufacturers, retailers, and service providers?
Well, looked at professionally and from an advertising perspective, it’s relatively simple. They should preserve their brands, their hard-earned positions, and their reputation with consumers by turning to them now more than ever. Along with a large dose of sympathy, their attention needs to be on their products and innovating how they do business, their services, and even the long-term and lasting transformation of products. That’s what they can do for their customers. If what has happened to us over the last ten days has brought anything good, it has made done more to make clear how we need to transform and what we have been doing wrong than the previous 10 years.
Even more importantly, and no matter how odd it may sound, the best thing they can do for the country and society is to stick as closely as they can to their normal way of doing things. They should keep up production and keep offering their services in accordance with the rules and guidelines set out by the government and doctors. By all means, adjust processes to the new circumstances but do not close down, at any point. Payments must continue to flow between companies at a steady pace. All of this applies to advertising as well. To be clear, I say this with a full understanding of the problems all industries will be facing to varying degrees. There will obviously be major challenges and they may even endanger the existence of some companies. But I am certain that keeping all processes, without exception, going is key to survival and any subsequent speedy recovery of the economy. This will all be over in a few weeks or months. If we wake up to find that some processes stopped, it will be difficult to get them going again effectively. In saying this, I am also thinking of the future of the agencies, my final topic for today.
I am thinking first and foremost of the media, which has no revenue if advertising reduces or stops. If advertising stops, agencies have less work, the media has no sources of financing, sales suffer, the shops that stayed open are forced to close, and there’s nobody enticing customers sitting at home and potentially ready to get active on online e-commerce platforms, so couriers have less work, and fuel sales go down. I could keep going, but it’s really just a question of how far we want to go. It’s the same in every industry, not just advertising. Removing a single cog can have fatal consequences for the machine. Elementary physics teaches us that it takes a lot more energy and time to start something than to speed it up when it’s already moving.
Clearly some industries simply cannot advertise and some messages just aren’t appropriate right now, and it’s not possible to embark on producing major new ad campaigns. But over the last few weeks there have been some shining examples of agile companies showing how we can change and adapt our message quickly under the circumstances, and even find some economic interest in doing so, if we are willing to compromise on production values. Even the immediate interest of a particular company is not what is important right now, however. In my opinion, the most responsible behaviour or best CSR for any company now is to keep its business going like before the pandemic, even at the cost of short-term financial goals. It’s because the risk is obvious: a mistaken attempt to maintain results in Q2 or in 2020 can cause various forms of harm to all the members in the chain and will, in the end, boomerang right back on anyone cutting corners, no matter how convinced they are doing the right thing.
To go back to my daughter’s question.
Doctors have a responsibility to try and save our lives. The government has a responsibility to create the conditions for them to do that, but also to think about what comes after the pandemic. We have a responsibility not to stop. We need to carry on as normally as we can in these abnormal times. We need to do the same things we have always done, in different ways and on a smaller scale maybe, but with more energy and new ideas too. The thing is we need to keep doing them.
Only then, will there still be a country and a market waiting in four, five, or eight weeks times for us to get it back on track. Otherwise, in addition to the direct cost of the pandemic, there will be likely be an even larger bill waiting for us at the exit ramp.