DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Written by: Jovan Stojanović, CEO of DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Today, my 11-year-old daughter, while she was playing, and for no reason at all, asked me: Dad, how are people going to make money if no one goes anywhere and no one does anything?
The whole world is facing something that obviously none of us was ready for. Still, no one can with certainty put into perspective all the devastating consequences of the situation that we are in. Many lives will be lost and the governments of all the states of the world are completely, first and foremost, dedicated to organization of health system, in order to minimise the number of victims. All of that is done, obviously and without exception, with insufficient capacities, with impossible deadlines and is slowly making all of us exhausted. In the end, when we look at the results, it’ll be easy to decide who acted better or worse in a given situation, but we must be aware that at this moment that is a teritory where no one has been before and each attempt is worth praising and respecting. Finally, these are the processes and decisions that competent and responsible people should deal with, primarily doctors, and all we have to do is listen to the experts.
All industries, companies and individuals, including United Group, United Media and Direct Media, are obligated to help as much as they can, in a situation that is unprecedented in relation to all that we can remember. Quick help from all of us will be important and will likely save many people’s lives. One-off state aid or even systematic short-term or medium-term state aid for companies will be equally important, so that our businesses don’t shut down.
However, what happens later? No one can at this point with certainty assess the economic consequences of the pandemic, but obviously they will be enormous. When it comes to helping, I’ve always thought that everyone, without exception, can help out the most in the domain of their core business. Therefore, the media has helped the most and continues to help by using all of their capacities to educate people on how they should act in this situation and, if necessary, that would be repeated hundreds of times a day. Agencies will help out by organizing activities to raise awareness of people about the seriousness of the situation. DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions has acted quickly, as did many other agencies – and together with Alma Quattro, the agency supported doctors by applauding at 8 PM, by sharing on social media more different creative calls for responsible behaviour, by organizing more webinars on the topic of advertising or management during crisis. Therefore, for now, we are doing our jobs and it is what we do best.
And what can manufacturers, sellers of goods and services do at this moment?
Well, in terms of craftsmanship, from the point of view of advertising, it is pretty clear. They need to try to preserve their brand, their hard-earned positions and reputation with consumers by turning to them more then ever before. With great empathy, their attention should definitely be aimed at their consumers and at innovation of their business activities, service, and even at long-term transformation of some existing products. That is what they can do for their consumers. If there is anything good in what is happening to us now, especially in the last 10 days, it is that we have realized more than in the last 10 years, how we should transform ourselves and where we made mistakes all this time.
But, more importantly, and no matter how weird or inappropriate it sounds, the best thing that they can do for the country and society right now, is to continue to operate as normally as possible. To continue manifacture and provision of sevices, in accordance with the measures prescribed by the Government, together with doctors. To adapt their process to new circumstances, but by no means should stop it at any phase of the process. The payment between companies should flow at a usual pace. All of this also relates to advertising. And make no mistake, I’m saying this absolutely keeping in mind all the problems that different industries, but altogether, face, to certain extent. It is absolutely clear that there will be huge challenges that might even endanger some companies’ existence. But I have no doubts that the continuation of all processes is, without exception, crucial for survival, and also a quick recovery of economy, after this situation where we found ourselves is over. In a few weeks, a month or two, all of this will pass. If we then, however, wake up in an environment where all the processes have stopped, we will hardly be able to completely start them again. When I talk about this, I also think of the future of agencies, but that is the last thing I’m discussing now.
Above all, I think of the media, which if faced with large reductions or terminations of advertising would be left without any type of income. If advertising stops, agencies would have less work, media would be left without source of funding, sales would also suffer as a result, the stores that by now haven’t been closed would then be closed, no one would invite shoppers who are sitting at home and might be ready for action to online platforms for e-commerce, courier services would have less work and fuel sales would decrease. I could add more or continue, it’s just a matter of how far we want to go. And for each individual industry, not just advertising, consequences of stopping work or taking out just one link of the chain would be disastrous for the entire machine. And basic physics tells us that a lot more energy and time would be needed to start something when it isn’t moving, than to just accelerate when we are already moving at certain speed.
It is clear that some industries simply cannot advertise at a moment like this. It is also clear that some advertisements aren’t appropriate at a moment like this. It is also clear that it isn’t possible to start the production of some more serious videos at this moment. But there are many good examples of companies, that are agile and that proved how in a short period, with compromises on their production criteria, of how advertisements can be changed and adjusted to te situation, and even how economic interest can be found. But even immediate interest of any individual company isn’t vital at this moment. If you are asking me what would be the most responsible behaviour or the best CSR that at this moment any company could make for itself, I would say that it is to operate as normally as possible, as it did before the pandemic, sometimes even if it meant not meeting short-term financial goals. Because it is absolutely clear that, for the purposes of preserving current results in Q2 or in 2020, multiple damages could be made to all the participants in the chain, that would return, like a boomerang, even to those who are saving money in hopes they are doing the right thing.
So, let me get back to the question that my daughter has asked me.
It is doctors’ responsibility to save our lives. It is state’s responsibility to organize and provide conditions, and also to think about the days after this pandemic is suppressed. And our responsibility is to keep going. To try to be as normal as possible in these abnormal times. To do the same things we did before, in a different way, maybe to a lesser extent, with more energy and new ideas. But, to do those things.
That is the only way that the country and market that we raised to where they belong would wait for us in four, six or eight weeks. Otherwise, no matter the cost of the pandemic itself, we would all face another toll gate with a likely higher bill.