An Australian Christmas like we’ve never seen before: The opportunity for marketers

Richard Hunwick
By Richard Hunwick | 8 July 2020
Richard Hunwick

Richard Hunwick is Nine’s director of sales – television and radio

It’s a been a tough year for marketers, agencies and media owners alike – and we’re only at the halfway mark. So should we be optimistic about the end of the year?

The aftermath of the Eastern seaboard bushfire crisis, the global COVID-19 pandemic and their economic ramifications, leading to a wider economic recession, means that for many in adland we will all be looking forward to getting to that end-of-year break.

For consumers this desire to get to the end of the year and enjoy an Aussie summer (likely to be without the option of going overseas) after the year we’ve all had will be no different.

But as brands start to move out of an extraordinary couple of months, which for many has required a focus on short termism, I wonder if this summer won’t mark the turning point where we begin our collective road to economic recovery.

Summer in Australia rightly has a special place in our collective memory. It’s summers on the beach, it’s barbecues and backyard cricket and of course Christmas (or in 2020 will that be a COVID Christmas?) which marketers and retailers are now starting to get their heads around, given the current circumstances of a combined and ongoing economic and health situation.

Some worry that amid an uncertain economic climate, with social distancing in public/retail environments likely to continue for some time, this summer and Christmas will be fraught

I don’t know if I agree. At Nine, our client solutions division, Powered, has been looking at consumer perceptions around the 2020-21 summer and it’s clear that Australians right now need something to look forward to – and indications are that this thing can and will be summer.

For marketers, we need to tap that optimism, happiness and sense of family that the end of year brings. Our research indicates that consumers will want to emphasise that special time of year and sense of family and connection.

It won’t be a normal summer for advertisers, but the opportunity exists to speak to the Australian identity – built around those summer ideals – and define a really powerful campaign and marketing message.

Domestic travel will surge as restrictions lift, pent-up demand for a break explodes and people seek to get away for a while – it’s easy to socially distance when the views are great. We’ll be looking to share a laugh and a beer (probably a few beers or a bottle of shiraz) with friends and family, in a responsible fashion. Some of us may even throw a few extra shrimps on the barbie. Summer has always been our reward for a hard year’s work, and we have worked harder this year than most.

We have also demonstrated throughout this tumultuous year that we are a nation that supports each other – so look for successful brands to push the Australian angle, localism at a time when consumers want to support businesses that employ people here.

I suspect we will recognise that once again, on a global stage, we have been the “lucky country”, something not to be taken for granted but definitely something to celebrate.

Advertisers have a unique opportunity to push their messaging this summer. Traditionally the end of the winter season has been delineated by the NRL and AFL Grand Finals at the start of October, but now they will be at the end of October, when temperatures are heating up and consumers are preparing to launch their Christmas spending spree – up to $7 billion more than they do at any other time of the year (in the 7-8 weeks before Christmas).

And if Australia has a Super Bowl it’s rugby league’s State of Origin series. Our premium sporting event will be now be held in consecutive weeks in November, right in the thick of planning and preparation for Christmas. The combination of footy finals/Origin is a unique and incredible opportunity for brands strategic enough to use their mass reach and cut through as a launch pad for their summer campaigns. It will also be another reason for Aussies to celebrate – their team, their code, their state – and brands which leverage that tone of summer optimism and recognise that consumers coming out of lockdown will want to celebrate (with appropriate social distancing) and treat themselves will be powerful.

As ever in times of adversity this optimism can and should be the panacea, and tapping the unique place of summer in our minds is the right place to start.

To learn more about 9Powered’s research on summer go to The Big Ideas Store which is on this week and will host a panel on “Unboxing a Christmas like no other”.

The panel will be moderated by AdNews publisher Assia Benmedjdoub, on Friday, July 10, at 11.00am.


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