Unforeseen, Unprecedented, Unparalleled Opportunities

Guest Column: Pandemic paralysed us momentarily, but has presented opportunities for economic & social reset. Divya Karani, CEO, dentsu X India, shares how companies can utilise the opportunities

e4m by Divya Karani
Updated: Dec 14, 2020 10:51 AM
divya karani

Planning ahead is a great strategy until life throws you a curveball.

2020 was a curveball. Strap in, 2021 is going to be a series of curveballs.

The pandemic paralysed us momentarily and now presents opportunities for a global economic and social reset. The big question for 2021, is whether we are bold enough to grasp it.

We need to be prepared, as well as we possibly can. The answer lies in the coming year of “Metal Ox”, beginning February 2021. An Ox is known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination; traits that will be a must to find our way forward in the coming year. Add two more to the above characteristics, honesty and trust. This applies to an individual, company, brand, conglomerate and even the government.

Trust is a valuable and scarce commodity these days. Especially during these new normal times. With the economy still reeling from the impact of Covid, consumers are unlikely to return to pre-Covid behaviours and spending levels until they think it is safe to do so, both physically and financially. They are looking for brands that give them the feeling of safety and trust.

Here is where the role of an agency partner is paramount. Serving as just an outside agency is no longer the accepted norm. We need to walk the talk and be partners to our clients. The role of the agency has pivoted. Mere exposures are not going to cut it and dentsu had predicted this long back. Hence, dentsu X started evolving on the foundation of delivering consumer and client experiences beyond mere exposures.

Compressed Transformation. Social distancing, work from home, virtual meetings are the new norms. From remote working to online retail, the pandemic has compressed years’ worth of transformation into months, bringing with it a dramatic shake-up in how people live, what they buy and where they work. Demand for at-home digital media has grown significantly, as habit-formation and ease of access emerge as drivers. OTT platforms and digital media adoption has accelerated and is expanding to new locations and demographics.

 “We have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks,” declared McKinsey, in May 2020.

The way brands need to communicate is changing. It is more about building a connect and ensuring it. Stepping into consumers’ lives and crafting and connecting two stories, the consumer story and the brand story together. We define it engineering experiences beyond mere exposures. Building meaningful relationships with consumers, with trust as the bedrock, is the only way.

Even once the crisis passes, the psychological overhang from the virus might mean it would take some time for consumers to embrace external consumption models again, especially in areas that have been the worst affected by this crisis. This could pave the way for innovation and outreach solutions wherein consumers turn to virtual live events and new delivery models to connect. Technological advancements could play a pivotal role in bringing outdoor entertainment and outreach directly to the consumer.

Media consumption is at an all-time high. This is true across platforms, both offline and online. Covid-induced lockdowns have radically accelerated digital revolution. Consumption of meaningful interactions and experiences are being sought. Marketers need to take advantage of this opportunity to build stronger connect with consumers.

Brands need to use this as an opportunity and make the most of it by walking the talk and making sure consumers know about it. This will build connections that will deliver in short and long terms.

Relevant, personalised communication at scale basis his/her consumers need state, context, psychographics, demographics, geography and beliefs. Get the message out quickly, with short TAT. The consumer is discerning and has various options available to him for engagement.


Real time communication, with content taking precedence. Consumers are spending more time with media, so do have time to go through the message. This is a never-before opportunity for clients to interact with consumers and ensure that the consumer not only interacts with but retains the message and develops a bond with the brand.


We hope to see development in the field of cross-platform media measurement. More so, specifically in multiple usage of TV screens, linear TV, connected TV, DTH, Mobile TV. The consumer is seamlessly toggling between screens and at times using multiple screens together. Consumers have evolved, technology has evolved, now measurement needs to evolve and keep up with consumption.

Brands need to focus on the existing set of products. In the Covid era, when the consumers’ world is mostly limited to their home, driving affordability and omni-channel availability will be critical. Brands need to focus on volume first and foremost. Extraction can follow through when one of the recovery shapes actually comes true.

Aptly captured by Gaurav Jain, SVP, South Asia (Health), Reckitt Benckiser, “To survive and thrive in these uncertain times, brands must be reliable, responsible and deliver on their promises. Keep the consumer in the centre of all that you do, be agile, be forward looking and do not stop communicating. Keep all communication channels open and active.”

Companies that utilise this opportunity well will be the ones that will come out stronger from this situation.

Godspeed, “make it happen” 2021!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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