Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Finding positives amid the Corona chaos: Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks and more step up

By Dan Brain, Co-Founder, Madfest

Innovation, creativity and good ethics are enabling businesses to find positives in these challenging times.  

Switch on the telly, radio or internet and it’s hard to find too many positives right now. People, businesses, industries and communities are all adjusting to economic and social challenges and three things nobody likes — fear, uncertainty and shortages of toilet roll.  

In these difficult times, it’s important to remember what we’re all about, be resilient and find the seemingly elusive silver linings. 

Once we’ve had a chance to take stock of the situation, we’ll shift our thinking from what we can’t do to what we can do. We should use the next few weeks to take a long, hard look in the mirror and find solutions to the things our businesses and industry could do better. 

Purpose has a new meaning

Purpose is one of them. So rather than PR-friendly stunts that might land a Lion or two, it’s refreshing to see brands like LVMH — which have shifted all their available production to making hand sanitiser that will be available to French hospitals free of charge — make a commitment to doing what’s in its power to make a difference.

Giorgio Armani has pledged funding to hospitals in Rome and Dolce & Gabbana is backing scientific Corona research projects. Starbucks has extended its provision of mental health to employees. Google has made sick pay available to all staff and contractors globally.

Amazon has gone on a hiring spree and made unlimited sick pay available for staff showing symptoms of Corona. Facebook is launching a $100m grant system for small businesses affected by the disease. The list keeps on growing.

Such acts are the right things to do. Call me an optimist, but I’ll hazard a guess that in the long run, a residual memory might just tip the balance when weighing up which perfume, handbag or even cup of coffee to buy.

Let’s live up to our innovation and creativity credentials

We need innovation and creativity more than ever. We, in media, think of ourselves as torchbearers for innovation. Corona puts this claim into sharp focus. 

They say necessity is the mother of invention and it’s amazing to see how businesses are already adapting to these unprecedented circumstances. Zoom’s healthy share price growth reflects the reality of shock being replaced by proactive decisions on organising teams and sales functions.

We have to make flexible and homeworking…work. The evidence around productivity has been around for ages, yet progress that could benefit parents, families, regions and people living outside major hubs like London has been slow. We need to learn what works, what doesn’t, and embrace the change technology has enabled.

Creativity isn’t just a beautiful ad. We can all be more creative about how we run our businesses and communicate with people. With a little imagination, we can keep the world turning. 

When you don’t have the usual tools at your disposal, how can you still achieve the thing that you’re trying to do? Get a blank sheet of paper and some Sharpies, then self isolate and see what happens.

You’ll probably be surprised about the number of good ideas and solutions you can come up with when you give yourself the time and space to think creatively. 

Forge alliances

It’s not the time for distasteful opportunism. In the world of media, it’s fantastic to see businesses throughout the ecosystem support each other. 

In the events industry, we’ve had several productive conversations with other organisers and publishers and we’re learning from our different approaches. We all have an unprecedented opportunity to form partnerships and alliances with our peers. 

If you’ve ever been on gardening leave, you may relate to the feeling that you actually miss the office and being around people. I remember the puppy-like feeling of my wife arriving home from work during my own exile (definitely the most exciting event of the day…as it always is!)

So whilst we have to grin and bear it for now, take a fresh look at why you love doing what you do (although you’d be hard pressed to ever miss the London’s tube at rush hour). 

When things start to return to normal, I’m sure we’ll all emerge from this Corona-induced cabin fever like eager puppies desperate to meet people, do business and make up for lost time. 

Embrace a Nietzschean outlook, focus on what you can do and emerge the other side stronger armed with lessons learned, new ideas and imaginative solutions. 

We very much hope to see you at MAD//Picnic on 9 July and MAD//Fest on 11-12 November.