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2020 round-up – the year in brand marketing: empathy, activism and a global recession

The Drum 22 Dec 2020 09:00
By Rebecca Stewart-22 December 2020 09:00am

As we wave goodbye to 2020, a year like no other, The Drum team is rounding up some of the key stories, interviews and work that have shaped the year. From media to marketing, creativity to digital transformation.

2020 has been a year in which consumer behaviour has changed beyond recognition

As we get ready to shake the dust off 2020, The Drum is rounding up some of the key stories, interviews and work that have shaped the year. Today, trends editor Rebecca Stewart explores the seminal work and strategies produced by brands over the past 12 months — including insights from Ben & Jerry’s, WeWork and more.

2020 has been a year in which consumer behaviour has changed beyond recognition and brands have had to fine-tune their marketing strategies in order to resonate and cut through the noise.

Burger King kicked off the year with a debate about a mouldy Whopper (yes, that was actually this year), Parasite deservedly picked up Best Film at the Oscars and the outgoing president of the US was impeached, then acquitted.

A sea of Covid-19 sameness

Then the cuts to ad spend came. Big brands – hello Coca-Cola – pulled spend. Others, such as P&G and Unilever, invested more.

Brands turned to APAC, which was – as ever – a few steps ahead for inspiration on how to react.

Brand purpose under a spotlight

This was a month in which civil unrest spread through the US and beyond as people expressed their fury at the death of George Floyd under the knee of an on-duty policeman.

Advertisers including Nike and L’Oreal were among some of the corporates that took a stand on racial injusticeand police violence following on from the death of George Floyd. The latter was among those to get it right, the former wrong.

Going into 2021, marketers would do well to take lessons from the ice-cream maker.

Ultimately, it had little impact on the social media giant’s bottom line, but it certainly forced brands to have some uncomfortable conversations with their media agencies and vendors.

2020 has truly felt like the longest year in history. How many of us have gormlessly flicked through Netflix for what seemed like the thousandth time; dreamed up ways to avoid another Zoom quiz; or peered impatiently through the oven door to monitor our banana bread, just to fill the time? As ever, Christmas still came around in what seemed like a whirlwind.

As brands gaze into the year ahead, the groundwork laid in 2020 should serve as a solid foundation on which to build marketing strategies that should see them through what is for certain to be another uncertain year.

adapt to consumers’ needs across every touchpoint, including e-commerce, pricing and media.

To navigate this ‘new abnormal’, businesses must face these economic headwinds straight on with an awareness that brand is ubiquitous.

It’s certainly no mean feat in the current climate, but where there are problems there are solutions.

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George FloydRebecca StewartBen JerryBeavertown BreweryUnilever
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