By the minneapolis egotist / /
By Tracy Call, CEO/founder, Media Bridge Advertising
If it feels like COVID-19 has changed everything in an instant, it has. We weren’t a work-from-home country two weeks ago. Now we are. In the advertising and media worlds, consumer habits have changed for months or years to come. Some businesses are fighting for survival. Others are taking advantage of new opportunities, especially in e-commerce. Unfortunately, the one universal in this crisis is that advertisers feel paralyzed. And that’s not sustainable. As Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
I’ve made a lot of decisions in the last week for my company and my clients. And I’ve made one in particular that I want to share in the hopes that it will have a positive influence on other leaders in media, marketing and advertising. This decision was sparked by something we’ve seen a lot of in the last week: clients requesting a pivot plan, a strategy to shift their marketing dollars to follow consumers as they change their media habits in our new economic reality.
My company has been reaching out proactively to our clients to get these plans done, working around the clock to protect their marketing dollars as much as possible. We would never think of charging for something like this, because we’ve always operated on a “no fee” model. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that some agencies are not only charging for these pivot plans; they’re charging exorbitant rates for them. That’s obscene, and it needs to stop.
The number-one thing ad agencies need to do to help their clients, the economy and the country right now is to stop charging for any non-working dollars.
Right now, advertisers need their marketing budgets to work harder for them than ever before, even if it comes at the expense of agencies like mine. Those dollars need to go toward buying the right media space (airtime on TV and radio, digital placement, etc.) at the right time to reach the right audience in our new reality. Period.
Despite the pain many businesses are experiencing, it’s actually a good time for most media. With the exception of billboards and other outdoor/out-of-home vehicles, people are spending more time on most platforms during this crisis. Advertisers need to adapt to that and use it to their best advantage, and they can’t afford to be charged for every phone call, brainstorm and “thought while showering moment” from anyone at their ad agency. Their lawyers are already doing that to them. We shouldn’t.
Companies also can’t be nickel-and-dimed with high hourly rates to shift copy and production work. We’ve had to change copy direction 2-3 times just in the last week for some of our clients. Right now, that has to be seen as a cost of doing business to get the right message out the door. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, not price-gouging.
We’re hearing from so many companies who are looking for help—so many entrepreneurs and other business leaders who are trying to figure out what to do with their marketing dollars—that we’ve put together a “relief package” to help them move beyond paralysis so they can make smart decisions for today and tomorrow.
I call it The COVID Pledge, and I’m calling on my advertising colleague to join me in taking it:
The COVID Advertising Pledge
- No on-boarding fees
- Free media and marketing audits for new clients
- Free development and execution of Pivot Plans for new and existing clients
- Free consultation for any advertiser who needs to talk to leadership or members of our teams with special expertise
This is what Media Bridge Advertising is doing, and it’s what every ad agency and media-buyer should be doing as well. Remember those words in your wedding vows, “in good times and in bad”? The same holds true in leadership. It’s easy to lead when things are good. It’s a lot harder when your back is up against the wall. But isn’t that the true test of leadership?
Our clients should know that we have their backs. When we’re counseling them at 2 a.m., they should feel confident that we’re here for them—listening and acting in their best interests. They should NEVER have to feel like “the meter is running,” and that we’re going to bill them the next day.
This is about relationships. This is about commitment. This is about people. This is about doing the right thing.