If only we had 2020 vision

6 Things We Learned in 2020 (One of which is: cake never ceases to please)

We started 2020 with plans to make it a great year. Come March, it was clear that 2020 was going to be a year like no other. But any contingency plans we might have had, didn't stretch this far.

And yet on reflection in many ways 2020 was an important, if not good, year; but not for the reasons we mostly measure - business was down 50%; we are still earning just 80% of our salaries; our clients mostly took hard knocks - no alcohol sales, no events, sales down on consumer goods.

But it was a year of paradigm shifts and innovation -and in my view the year of the great reset with 6 valuable lessons

  1. People can change and adapt quickly . Be agile.

We decided to isolate and work from home two weeks before lockdown was declared . It meant quickly establishing the new operational needs of the business as we segued into remote working quickly and easily. We ran the business as usual, despite it being very unusual

Our clients too, were just as agile, switching from in person activations to virtual events as Jameson did with the hugely successful Big StayInn fronted by Kwesta. At a time when Jameson could not sell any alcohol they realised the need for people to connect in disconnected times. The campaign included donating funds to the #KeepTheSpirit initiative to support bartenders and waiters who were out of work due to lockdown through the Stay Inn. The campaign became one of their most successful ever.

Read more about Jameson’s #TheStayInn campaign

  1. People are resilient

Hats off to the team, who overnight carried on with business as usual, setting up home offices, establishing new routines, adjusting quickly to seeing each other virtually and looking out for each other too. It was jump in and swim and the team did well.

Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital, despite being on severe lockdown with stringent protocols in place, rallied their staff - surgeons, nurses, admin - and young patients and parents to very quickly get behind the Jerusalema challenge, which earned them much social love and national attention.

  1. People are generous …show some love

It was clear early on that we needed to conserve what cash we had, as our clients were forced to cancel events and cut fees dramatically across the board due to reduced sales. That meant cutting salaries by 20% which 8 months down the line are still in place and yet the team is understanding and fully behind this.

Absolut Vodka has a long standing relationship with the design industry and when the pandemic hit they decided to step up and show support to the industry that supported them and arranged a series of design masterclasses given by leading designers and commissioning unique pieces inspired by the times we found ourselves in.

  1. Change provides great opportunity … just make sure you seize it.

Lockdown forced a 100% shift to digital for everyone. What was in everyone's plans and at various stages of implementation suddenly became a necessity. We took the chance lockdown provided to get back to learning; implementing a new model for modern PR - the PESO model. The team went back to school and in six short months had completely revolutionized how we do things - making us unique and deadly .

Red Bull had planned a campaign with South Africa’s favourite house duo, Black Motion, to celebrate their 10th anniversary in the South African music scene with a national tour! With lockdown blindsiding them, their plans quickly segue into a documentary looking back on the seminal moments in their career, now accompanied by a special live virtual performance at the spectacular God’s Window in Graskop. It was deft move that resulted in one of their biggest campaigns in 2020

See some of the coverage we got for Red Bull in:

Texx and the City, SA Music News and IOL

  1. Adversity forces a paradigm shift.

We have given up our offices. We’re now full time remote workers. We have a shared space where the team can and does meet every Friday and we are alive to the challenges and are on the lookout for bumps along this new way. It's liberating, it's refreshing, it’s efficient, its effective and its total exposure reimagined.

The E! People’s Choice Awards are one of the highlights on the entertainment calendar. What was typically a major glamorous live show had to be reconfigured to a virtual show that turned out to be really fun. Not only did they rethink the show they also rethought their place in the world introducing two brand new African categories - ‘African Social Star 2020’ (winner Kenyan comedian Elsa Majimbo) and ‘Trailblazer of the year’ (won by the iconic Siya Kolisi) .

  1. Cake never fails to bring a little happiness

Despite lockdown and us not being able to sit down together and eat cake to celebrate our team birthdays we just had to do it virtually - delivering cake to team members and taking time to share the coffee.

Our client E! (which airs on Channel 124 on DStv) brought a smile to Mzansi’s face as they delivered spectacular cakes to celebrate Kim Kardashian-West’s 40th birthday

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