Brands Behind Closed Doors: Content For a Changed Audience

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As the pandemic takes its toll on live sporting events, fans across the country are eagerly anticipating the return of the beautiful game to their screens. With a six-week hiatus to date, the Premier League is now proactively discussing how to broadcast the season’s remaining fixtures, with a return in June being considered behind closed doors. For football fans, while they will miss out on match attendance, they will still get to watch their beloved team play (praying for my home team Coventry City sitting atop of League 1). However, what does this mean for advertisers who invest in live sports?

It’s clear that the goalposts have moved, and brands are having to rethink their marketing strategy to adapt to the shift from the physical to digital. Now more than ever, it’s vital to create valuable content viewers want.

With that in mind, there are things brands need to consider when creating content and campaigns during the pandemic. How do marketers successfully offer consumers the right content to escape from the deluge of coronavirus news until we can return to the stadium, while still providing the right impact for their brand? There is a vast new opportunity here, and it’s the most agile brands that will come out on top.

What success looks like behind closed doors

In this new reality we are facing, with limited activities available to pass the time, consumers are clamoring for content. Sports fans everywhere are still hungry for content to satisfy their passion. As well as the Premier League, other sports are adapting their format – the NBA televised a H-O-R-S-E competition in the UK professional darts from home to engage with their audiences, where players shoot hoops or hit doubles in isolation.

However, brands looking to capitalize must be cautious. This monumental shift in consumer behavior has happened in a very short space of time. Nielsen’s recent report states that staying home could lead to nearly a 60% increase in the amount of content watched online. While audience sizes are unprecedented, they will be much changed due to the current circumstances.

Successful campaigns are possible, but the results won’t be measured in the same way. Brands will need to look at video engagement rates, visits to the brand website, and social media engagement as a more complete assessment of how a campaign performed than an immediate boost to sales. Ultimately, brands need to interact with consumers in a different way to keep them engaged and plan for new world order, but what is critical is reassessing what success looks like and what the end goals are.

Adding value to an adapting audience

All brands’ sales are impacted by the pandemic and economic crisis. Either they cannot meet the rise in demand due to panic buying or impacted supply chain, or sales are halted as consumers re-evaluate their needs. Therefore, trying to stimulate short-term sales will likely prove problematic.

Despite the impact to sales, brands should not just go dark. Far from it. There is huge value to be offered to audiences with the right content, even to offer light relief and a sense of calm away from the constant news updates. To be a voice of reason and consistency in a time of uncertainty, brands need to understand that their advertising objective has to change.

Prior to the lockdown, many brands sought to increase sales through building relationships with consumers. However, people’s priorities have changed as they look to what is necessary to survive and thrive, over buying excess. Therefore, advertisers must understand what their new relationship will be with audiences to continue to provide that value. If advertisers can switch their product offering to a content offering, they’re still fulfilling their place within audiences’ hearts while maintaining brand awareness. The need for new content presents an opportunity to think outside of the box.

In this time of uncertainty, there is an opportunity for advertisers to serve as a reminder of our normal way of life. Brands have to interact with the market in a fundamentally different way now – using the lens of brand purpose and understanding the new objectives will help ensure that activity isn’t perceived as profiteering, but as a contribution to the society as a whole. So, when sport eventually restarts behind closed doors, so too should brands be set up and ready to dive in to engage with fans. And this time, who knows, you may even pick up some new ones along the way.

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