After the Storm, the beach is never the same. Lockdown opportunity.

By Dan Wheeldon

I grew up on the coast of Australia. Every few years a cyclone or a big storm would roll through our beach town and really mess the place up. Pounding waves would wipe out the walking paths, old trees would topple, new rocks & reefs would appear. The landscape would be battered, but after the storm the destruction delivered would quickly become the new normal. What other choice would we have?

This pandemic is a storm sweeping the planet. And while it is undoubtedly destructive, it is forcing change, revealing new layers and unearthing forgotten bedrock.

I’m writing this from home. I have to. This is lockdown life. But while we’re all trapped at home authentic connection, tech adoption, and shopping habits have gone through the roof. Even people typically slow to adopt tech, online shopping or on demand content are making the switch. And brands who have been slow to invest in these areas have quickly realised it would be wise to get moving. The good news is changes can be made now.

I’ll tell you one thing, we will not go back to how things were. And if we don’t all come out of this wiser, then it is an even bigger tragedy.

Here in Italy we are a few weeks ahead of the rest of the World pandemic. Other than China of course, more on them later. When the first big waves started smashing the global shores the majority of brands reacted by putting the brakes on communications, activity and advertising. 

Now this makes sense if you have supply chain issues, but if not - you’re just letting your competitors have all of the attention. Upper funnel family, now is a time for awareness. Lower funnel friends, get converting.

This is what we see right now:

Digital ad spend is down, so bidding is cheaper. People’s time online is up - therefore attention is higher. E-commerce is going crazy and competitors are quiet.  If I had a message to share or a product to sell, you better believe now is a chance. 

But that is now. What will happen after the storm?  


There are companies who need to bring in revenue and make up for lost time. And there will be governments who need to kickstart their economies. I’m no economist, but I imagine Bank loans will be cheap, sales will be plentiful and spending incentives will be rife. 

One thing we’ve seen from China is the revenge spending factor. Consumers released are spending to make up for lost time. The pendulum will swing back elsewhere too. What happens when everyone tries to get into the same party at the same time? Will there be enough supply for the demand?

eCommerce infrastructure has been established for a long time. The fact that it hasn’t been more heavily invested in by brands is astounding to me. Amazon are madly hiring staff to keep up with demand, but the world was heading that way long before we were locked down. Check our recent podcast on the topic if you're thinking of selling on Amazon.

On that note, we were told that only priority items such as groceries would arrive, but I’ve ordered many semi-pointless objects over the last few weeks and they have all arrived the next day. 

On the human front, we know that people are craving community and engagement. Social live streaming has gone through the roof and so the platforms have answered with new formats and streaming abilities. People are embracing this low fi, raw and real content. Will that mean a swing back to glossy produced content would jar against the authentic reality that have found ourselves living in? Probably. 

Few outfits are making new premium content right now. Instead our feeds are full of TikTok dances, sourdough bakery, bad haircuts, Tiger King Memes and balcony videos. (I think we all teared up and bit when applause rang out across our neighbourhoods. Bravo health services)

So what are the opportunities? I have a few thoughts.

The first, this is not an isolation challenge to be weathered, but rather an opportunity for inspiration and intimacy. For now, don’t get stuck in endless Zoom calls, Hangouts and Facetimes. This is a chance to get back to those dusty good old books. Still your soul. Change the strings on that guitar. Plug the midi piano back into that old laptop covered in stickers. Get fit. To talk to family. Talk to your neighbours. 

Write down your 5-year plan. Your 10-year plan. Your 30-year plan! 

Don’t just plan your business either, create the marketing plan for your life. Make sure you claim this time to make it your own. There are richer things to spend your time on than Citylife Influencers and Insta-stories.

Spring is coming. And we will emerge. The surf is breaking somewhere new now. We just have to cut a new path across the beach and find the good breaks. This is a global awakening that has shifted many habits forever. Brands, prepare for the after effects of the storm. The revenge spenders are coming. 


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