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How ‘Scotty From Marketing’ is failing to market his response to Covid-19

The Drum 30 Mar 2020 03:42
It was vital that Scotty From Marketing got his marketing communication strategy right this time.

For Australia, 2020 is shaping up to be an apocalypse of biblical proportions. First, there were bushfires, then floods and now a plague has descended on the country and the world. At a time when leadership is required, Australia has #ScottyFromMarketing. As I have written before, the Australian prime minister’s hashtag is actually a significant insult to professional marketers everywhere.

It was reported earlier this year, the chief creative officer at PwC, Russel Howcroft, was called to the prime minister’s office late last year for marketing advice. Clearly the advice was not taken in regard to the bushfires, where Scotty From Marketing failed on a number of occasions to get the marketing message right.

Facing the looming threat to Australia that the coronavirus (Covid-19) posed earlier this year, it was vital that Scotty From Marketing got his marketing communication strategy right this time. So how has it gone?

It is also a brand that has the trust of the customer and so they can take a generally unpopular stand, but their supporters love them even more for it. Take the Colin Kaepernick ad campaign.

The impact of this lack of marketing discipline is that consumers are not listening. It is why on a sunny day in Sydney, the iconic Bondi Beach was crowded with people when the government had urged the public to practice ‘social distancing’. The photographs of the crowded beach were published around the world as a sign that Australians were not taking the threat seriously. Clearly the government marketing messaging coming from Scotty From Marketing was not working. But why?

Let’s consider this not from a political or operational perspective, but simply within the context of the hashtag #scottyfrommarketing. While real marketers know that marketing is more than just marketing communications, the cynical context of the hashtag is derived from the perception that marketing is simply communications spin. So, what does great marketing communications look like in these unprecedented circumstances? In other words, how can ‘Scotty From Marketing’ live up to the true potential of marketing?

Is there a clear and consistent theme to the messaging that builds awareness, consideration and action from the audience? All of the communications, from press briefings, interviews, advertising and more should be on strategy, reinforcing the overall campaign message, responding consistently to the changing needs and building reassurance and relevance on the issue.

“Unprecedented” is an overused word to provide context to the current situation. But, while the magnitude of challenges dealing with a global health crisis cannot be underestimated, as a marketer Scotty From Marketing is not a shining example of what marketing can achieve in these unpreceded circumstances. As a politician and leader, Australia will have to wait for the next general election to have their say.

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AustraliaScottyScottyFromMarketingRussel Howcroft