ADELAIDE AMPLIFIED - How brands recalibrated in the pandemic disruption

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 4 March 2021

A black Friday night briefing with the South Australian government set off a campaign to educate the state on how to behave in a pandemic.

The University of Adelaide had to do two years work in two months, the state had to switch focus from international to domestic tourism and media agency Carat dived deep into consumer behaviour.

At the AdNews Live: Adelaide Amplified event  -- AdNews’ first industry conference in Adelaide hosted at Ayers House -- key industry figures outlined how they reacted to the pandemic.

Carat Adelaide managing director Vikki Friscic: “What was fantastic was Dentsu straightaway put together an analytics and insights team that started a COVID hub. It was a place where we could store all sorts of insights and share those with our clients to help them make informed decisions.”

“On top of that our media partners were outstanding in helping us understand the consumer behaviour changes and then the media consumption channels as well.

“A lot of it was around tech adoption. Media consumption habits that we really relied on to help our clients determine what to do with the campaigns.

Showpony managing director Jamie Scott: “The first thing everybody said was just hold on to that part of the campaign because nobody knew what to expect.

“And I think the other thing is people were saying that everything we were going to do offline, we had to do online. A lot of shifting to e-commerce and that was pretty common.

“For us the big change was we got a call on Friday the 13th, which is pretty ominous. SA Health wanted us to meet that night after a ministerial briefing at six o'clock. On a Friday night for government, that’s pretty unusual. We realised that it wasn't good.

“Everything that we knew from overseas was coming to Australia and we had to communicate that to the South Australian public in a way that was not alarming but certainly kept people on their toes.

“We hadn't had expressions like social distancing. We haven't thought about how to properly wash your hands?

“Then we had to work out how consumer behaviuor is going to change in an environment where we would come to terms with this new pandemic.”

South Australian Tourism Commission executive director of marketing Brent Hill: “Our remit changed quickly. We became really good at vouchers.

“Our whole international marketing budget basically dropped out. We then had to move really quickly into making that domestic focused.

“We made a pretty disgraceful ad that had like an Easter egg and it just said don't travel. It won’t win any awards.

“I'm so proud of what everybody achieved and pushed forward, but you know, it was very difficult to get there. That's for sure. “

University of Adelaide chief marketing officer Benjamin Grindlay: “The university serves a local, national or international community through education, research and with thought leadership.

“All of those pillars were impacted. I had to shift really fast into digital and virtual. In a couple of months we did what typically would take two years or sometimes at a university 20 years.

“The sustained border closure for us was around our being able to welcome back international students. International education is the biggest export this state has.”

He says there’s a deep economic impact, including on the university's finances, but also a personal side.

“We often forget, and it gets lost in a little bit of this narrative, some of those international students have been with us for three or four years. They've got one subject, one practical (to complete), and they're done.

“And a lot of the time it's in health and they want to go back to their communities and be able to support them especially at this time. So that's been a real grim outcome of this.”

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