MullenLowe Lintas Group’s Amer Jaleel on the relationship between brands and agencies during Covid-19

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Published: June 8, 2020 10:03 AM

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

Amer Jaleel, group CCO and chairman, MullenLowe Lintas GroupAmer Jaleel, group CCO and chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group

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, Amer Jaleel, group CCO and chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group, talks about how brands need to act and react during such difficult times. (edited excerpts)

On the art of maintaining agency-brand relationship in a turbulent environment

During any challenging period of brand history, we instinctively get into a very tight huddle with our brands and almost make the problem our own. This crisis is no different than individual issues brands have faced over its history. Except almost everyone is facing this together.

Actually, the tightest bonds get formed in times like these because the topmost levels of the agency are constantly interacting with the topmost guys at the clients and that unhindered access actually develops a team mindset like nothing else can.

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

I have no fixed rules for this. Times change, people change, and circumstances evolve. Brands can flip and flop one way or the other to accommodate the vagaries. We operate on common sense, a deep empathy with consumers and gut. It never fails us. In fact when most people ask me what is so special about Lintas I’m not able to put a finger on it and articulate it in a scientific or even methodical way because most of the stuff we think about and do is soft stuff, no real grids or set patterns inform our choices. We look for the ‘penny drop’. How can we keep a formatised approach to that?

On the periodicity of the conversation in these times

The best conversation a product or brand has with its franchise is while it is in use or it is being consumed. We only prepare the audience for this conversation. I find a lot of marketers are in a constant drive to ‘engage’. All the new channels at our disposal are hungering for attention from our brands and we give in to this insatiable demand. However, we ought to do less, and we ought to do better.

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

Agencies have a larger role to play in the life of brands especially during times like these. The best comment I’ve heard in this regard is actually a yelling that I got ‘Are you crazy to let that particular piece of creative go out? Do you not know that people come and go but that my agency is the biggest constant on the brand? Do you not feel the weight of that responsibility?’ This is the kind of expectation that agencies need to fulfill at all times as they partner with their clients.

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

We must be patient and we must be watchful. When huge tragedies hit the world earlier, the human race was very different, we were in a sense simpler, more predictable. We are hugely complexed now and the dynamics of anything happening anywhere affecting us as humans and as consumers are so different and complicated. So again we have to be mindful that we don’t know much of the future. We need to learn, adapt, but more than anything else we need to be agile and responsive to change. When we don’t know what change is coming only the most alert and ‘on-toes’ of businesses will overcome the challenges.

Read Also: Brands turn to moment marketing to remain relevant

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