FCB India’s Rohit Ohri on the relationship between brands and agencies during Covid-19

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Published: June 1, 2020 10:04 AM

The dos and don’ts for brands during a pandemic, reveals Ohri

Rohit Ohri, group chairman and CEO, FCB IndiaRohit Ohri, group chairman and CEO, FCB India

At a time when everyone is trying to look beyond the pandemic called Covid-19, communication needs to be crafted carefully. There resides a chance of either too less talking or more. It is here that agencies play a significant role in hand-holding and telling brands the dos and don’ts of communication. In a candid chat with BrandWagon Online, Rohit Ohri, group chairman and CEO, FCB India, talks about how brands need to act and react during such difficult times. (edited excerpts)

On the art of maintaining a relationship in a turbulent environment – brands and agencies

The art of maintaining a relationship in turbulent times is really about being ‘tone sensitive’. When there is a crisis or the situation we are going through right now, which is the biggest crises that we’ve seen recently; it’s very important for brands to be sensitive when they communicate with their consumers. In this time of trouble consumers should feel you are reaching out to be helpful and not to sell as a brand. It’s really important how communication is decoded at this time and how it connects with the consumer.

On the dos and don’ts brands need to follow when communicating with consumers

In times of crisis, it’s imperative that brands don’t lose their voice. Consumers are relying on brands to help them through these times of trouble. The analogy I would like to draw is that consumers are today walking through a long dark tunnel of turbulence. Brands that wait for light at the end of the tunnel to restart their consumer conversations often lose the loyalty of their customers. Whereas, brands that light up the tunnel and walk with their consumers, create deeper loyalties and newer bonds.

It’s very important that brands are helpful in these times. We’ve seen brands pivot on their promise to offer new solutions. For example, many food delivery brands delivered staples to help their customers, fitness brands offered stay-at-home fitness classes etc.

On the periodicity of the conversation in these times

When one thinks of periodicity in these difficult times, it’s based on simple intuitive logic. It’s like a conversation. Especially in this time of trouble, we know that being in conversation with the consumers is so critical. You can’t go silent! You cannot lose your voice. It holds true in real life too, like we connect with our friends, family and colleagues on various digital platforms. We still want to stay connected, despite the physical distance, to feel the security of our colleagues and the love of the family. Likewise, it is very essential for brands to communicate in pretty much the same way in these times of trouble and need. It’s very important that brands connect with consumers and the communication should not be seen as a burst or release of an ad but rather an act of reaching out and communicating on a regular basis by giving the right information to the consumers, to help them through this trying time.

On the role agencies play in the life of brands and advertisers

The way we look at it is that we need to partner our clients. This is the time when they need us the most. In times of crisis, creativity comes to the fore. For instance, how brands deliver their services, how they look at the health and safety concerns of consumers and react to that is what defines their creativity. It’s essential for creative agencies to reboot their thinking to reset, rebuild and recreate new skills that will enable them to help their clients at this point in time.

On the mantra that agencies and advertisers should follow to beat the Covid-19 blues

The mantra that agencies and advertisers should follow to beat the Covid blues is, being honest, transparent and very responsible in their communication. Everything a brand says and does should be with the greatest degree of honesty. They should be completely transparent in everything that they say. As a matter of fact, consumers go back to the brand they trust and in this time there is a trust deficit, they don’t know what news or source is correct and trustworthy with so much information that is being huddled at them! Therefore it’s very important for brands to be that anchor, giving that trust to the consumers. And this definitely will go a long way, in the brand’s success in future.

Read Also: IKEA India’s Amitabh Pande on the communication strategy followed by brands in the time of Covid-19

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