Coronavirus and the impact on advertising by Marco Girelli, OMG Italy CEO
OMD EMEA
12 March 2020

This article was originally published by ADVexpress and has been translated into English.

OMG Italy’s CEO has been analysing the market during coronavirus, especially the Luxury, Tourism, Travel and Automotive sectors. There is expected to be “a big rebound” in the second half of the year with companies committed to “finding new business frontiers, winning models, new ideas and effective initiatives”.

Let’s start with the organisational model adopted by OMG that has faced the epidemic while guaranteeing business continuity. Have you created ad hoc task forces to support customers more effectively at this stage?

“Our advantage is that we have developed a Crisis Management Team, a transversal body made up of the OMG board, managers of agencies, HR and IT. It has a clear vision of what is happening and dynamics within the group to understand the critical issues and quickly identify the levers to be activated. The technological infrastructure, with connection systems for 100% of our employees, allows easy communication between colleagues and customers. Our structure is based on a clear set-up of operations, coordination and well-defined rules of engagement. It is fully functional whilst working from home and requires that each project is the result of an integration of different skills and roles that belong to different companies and managers. In other words, one of the lessons that comes from Coronavirus is a rethinking of our organisations to guarantee customer service, protect our professionals and an internal communication flow that will reassure and inform all our people”.

What do you think the impact of Coronavirus will be on the advertising market and on the economy?

“Compared to a year ago, there has been at least a 25% slowdown in investments estimated for March, but it is difficult to make predictions. It depends on how long this epidemic will continue. Among the sectors, Luxury, Travel and Tourism and Automotive investments have fallen sharply, whilst investments in the food sector are holding up”.

How do clients behave in terms of investments, projects, advertising messages, media strategies and insight requests?

“In general, clients have different attitudes on the market. There are those that think it is not appropriate to have visibility, and also those who consider it tactical. Then there is a strategic consideration that companies make: it is not appropriate to launch a call to action to consumers to go to the stores and have a brand experience. In short, it is now even more difficult to communicate for a brand. Before reaching consumers, you must consider different social, psychological and cultural aspects. Regarding investments, clients have frozen them temporarily but have not cancelled them”.

What measures should businesses take?

“The delivery of food, products and services is a tool companies could use to their advantage. COVID-19 has boosted the technological literacy of Italians who are kept informed in real time thanks to the internet. It is an opportunity that all companies should use to favour of their business”.

A look at the horizon. Advice to Italy to leave

“The trend of the Italian economy will be like a V with an acute angle. When the country shows the first signs that the crisis has passed, it will be at the centre of a great rebound, as has happened several times in the past. The companies and markets have stopped for now but will resume at great speed as soon as everything has passed. This will be driven by the desire to find new business frontiers, winning models and effective initiatives. I expect great vitality on the market, perhaps even in May and a very busy second half of tenders. Companies will be curious to listen to new ideas, communication and insights so there will be great opportunities”.

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