Now is the time for trust and mutual support

We are living through history – a time of immense change. But most things will not change forever. Even last month, seems another world. But we will get through this. And collaboration and partnerships are what will help us all get through the crisis – partnerships between people and between countries and in our industry between agencies and marketers.

Hopefully this crisis will mean people come through it with greater empathy with more care for their health and that of the planet; science and truth will be more valued. But many, many things will return to the way they were before.

Covid-19 is an unprecedented human tragedy and the number-one priority of every business right now has to be the well-being of people: taking care of their staff and doing whatever they can to help the public and society get through the crisis.

Maybe, though, this is a moment our industry finds a fresh purpose and a new respect. Empathy, creativity, logic – this is an amazing time to have the kind of tools and talent this industry possesses, not to make ads with (necessarily) but solve problems, to design real utilities that help people in creative ways. And if social media has taught us anything over the past few weeks, it’s that people’s hunger for interesting content, humour and entertainment is keener than ever. It’s time for the advertising industry to prove itself again here too.

The ad industry is an industry built on solving problems and already there are many wonderful examples of brands and agencies using their skills and resources to make a positive contribution to the battle against the disease. It’s been fantastic to see a rapid-response surge in creative thinking over the past few weeks as agencies step up to address their clients’ problems, their own business challenges and to redefine – what meaningful social purpose really looks like.

The finest examples I can think of are a result of the best agencies and the smartest clients able to work together at speed because they have a rock-solid trust and shared values between them. The truth is that challenges are almost always solved faster and more effectively by collaboration, by partnership.

And collaboration and partnerships are what will help us all get through the crisis – partnerships between people and between countries and in our industry between agencies and marketers.

Now is the time for marketers and their agencies to build new, deeper working relationships built on true partnership, trust and mutual support. After all, they share the same goals perhaps as never before: the care of people, of society, of each other’s corporate health and long-term prospects in order to ensure economic stability as much as possible. The best ad agencies will be their best allies in this mission and the best outcomes will result from the strongest relationships.

We need to move on from the procurer/supplier mentality that has dictated the rules of marketer/agency engagement for so long and redefine what a client/agency partnership really looks like in order to work together to secure livelihoods and find true, useful and lasting purpose for this industry.

Lisa Saunds, Founder and CEO of Absolutely Advertising and Absolutely Health.