THE COLLECTIVE COVID-19 EXPERIENCE WILL CHANGE CONSUMERS’ EXPECTATIONS OF BRANDS FOREVER SAYS MARIANNA RUIZ, GROUP CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF HAVAS CHICAGO
As the world struggles to surface following the tidal wave impact of Covid-19, the devastating global experience will alter consumers’ expectations of the brands they support in its aftermath. Marianna Ruiz, a Group Creative Director at Havas Chicago, believes companies must use their influence to support change and make a difference in these unimaginable times in order to compete with the changing mindsets of consumers in the wake of the pandemic. In life post Coive-19, audiences will not tolerate inaction from brands, especially those who sat silent through some of this generation’s darkest moments.
“Every company is being scrutinized for what they’re doing, or not doing, right now , not what they’re saying,” says Ruiz. “For a while now, the trend has been that millennials value experiences and what a company stands for, more than other generations. Doing good for your customers has never been more important. If you put a message out right now, trying to push a product just to take advantage and exploit the situation for profit, you’re not going to last. There’s a ‘do good or get out’ mentality that has been amplified by Covid-19 and will last going forward. As a creative, I can’t imagine a better future for the advertising industry than being able to advise our clients on how to do good by people and do what is right.”
The Creative Director said Havas’ commitment to meaningful work matters more than ever and working remotely throughout the pandemic has put creativity to the test. In just four days, the Havas Chicago team pulled together a series of Covid-19 public service announcements for the city’s charismatic mayor Lori Lightfoot, published on the politican’s social media platforms. As global healthcare systems heave under the weight of the virus’ pressure, the light-hearted videos helped convey the most meaningful message of all – stay at home and save lives. Ruiz said: “The reason I’m in this industry is to make effective messaging that resonates with people. What message could be more important right now than ‘stay home, save lives’? So, when the opportunity to work with the mayor presented itself, it was simply something we had to do. Havas has a pulse on culture and we try to make internet-worthy content for our clients, so the team was poised and ready to jump in and bring it to life in a matter of four days. It was a super quick concept and writing process, then we went to set, shot it and edited it. It was a SWAT team effort to get it done.”
Focusing on the humorous nature of the mayor might have been a risk during such a stark time, but Ruiz believes it is what made the messaging so effective. “We played into her light-heartedness and sense of humor because that’s a side of her that’s been connecting with people. There are memes making their way around the internet about the mayor that are funny, but supportive. Everyone calls her Auntie Lori; she’s stern but endearing. She can seem serious but at the same time she’s sassy. The mayor really enjoyed herself on set and we had a good time. She’s wonderful at taking direction and delivered the lines in her own way. The set was fun, but we were in prime social distancing mode. The props were constantly being disinfected. From what I’ve seen, the reaction to the PSAs has been super positive. With this video people saw that she embraced that fun side of herself and played into it. It created a feeling that the mayor is doing what’s right, she’s working hard for the city and she’s got Chicagoans’ best interests in mind. It feels pretty special to be part of it.”
As tragic and overwhelming as the experience has been, Ruiz said there are some silver linings. “Outside of the tragedy and devastation caused by Covid-19, the environment is flourishing right now. We hear birds chirping, butterfly migrations are back up. The earth needed a break. I’m heavily conscious about the environment. I have a two-year-old running around here, she’s out of daycare and it can be hard to juggle. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to have time like this with her. And be able to be here with her, play with her and sit down and have lunch with her every day. Work-wise, it’s challenged our creativity and communication in new ways and I’m excited to see what the the future holds for the industry. There are positives even if they are outweighed by the darkness of it all right now.”