Leo Burnett’s Dheeraj Sinha on the relationship between brands and agencies during Covid-19

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Updated: Jun 22, 2020 10:04 AM

The mantra to be followed by brands during a pandemic, highlights Sinha

Dheeraj Sinha, managing director - India and chief strategy officer- South Asia, Leo BurnettDheeraj Sinha, managing director – India and chief strategy officer- South Asia, Leo Burnett

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, Dheeraj Sinha, managing director – India and chief strategy officer- South Asia, Leo Burnett, 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 relationships in these times will be determined by how we are able to help each other navigate the change. The fact that we are navigating the crisis together has actually cemented the client-agency relationship like never before. One of the things that we did early on was to introduce a new short-term thinking framework to help clients navigate these times. The model, called the 0-3-6 framework, is designed to help brands navigate the crisis in the immediate, the medium and the long-term.

The 0-3-6 module calls for developing plans through online workshops where we look at the brands core equities and evaluate it along with the changing behaviour of people – the culture fuels that are shaping behaviour in these times and based on these, strategize how to pivot our offerings to stay relevant to the expectations of consumers going forward. These workshops have tremendously helped us work closely with the clients to prepare us for the new normal and create value for both our brands and the consumers.

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

I think we need to be able to solve the problems that people are facing rather than make noises of empathy. Identify and offer relevant solutions that cater to the need-gap created by the crisis. For example, we created the #WeddingFromHome solution for Shaadi.com where we conducted virtual weddings in the midst of the pandemic. The opportunities are many, sanitising solutions for cars, platforms that help people manage the emotional stress of the lockdown and so on. Creativity is being called upon to help people navigate these challenging times and to rise up to it is the need of the hour.

On the periodicity of the conversation in these times

In times of crisis it is important to stay connected and communicate regularly with your consumers. But as mentioned before it is also important to focus on what you are saying. Tone-deaf communication can create a lot of negativity towards your brand so it’s important to be genuine and real in your messaging.

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

The role of the agency is that of a partner. It needs to be able to provide the right thinking and creativity to help brands navigate this change. It’s critical for the agency to be the eyes of the brand on the ground.

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

At Leo Burnett we believe that the way you behave in the crisis is the way people will continue to remember you even after it’s over. So brands need to stand up and be counted. Words such as authenticity which had become trite have suddenly become more meaningful than ever. We also believe that positive energy is the only antidote found to this crisis thus far.

Read Also: PepsiCo India’s Tarun Bhagat on the marketing strategy which brands need to follow in the time of Covid-19

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