Moving past a year of turmoil

2020 was the most tumultuous year in history for most of us, that much is certain. Generations across the planet were faced with a global pandemic, political unrest, the reality of class and race inequality, and an ongoing climate crisis.

We are coming out of a year where the primary focus has been on what we lost, and we have lost a lot; family members, friends, jobs, peace of mind, any sense of normalcy… to name a few. We gathered at busy restaurants, not knowing it would be the last time for a lengthy period – and the impact of this will linger long after this year and the next.

2020, the year of the pivot

The biggest takeaway for us as an agency this year is the importance of empathy. Really listening to consumers has never been more integral: their pains, their complaints, their stress points. People are coming out from behind the wall of advertising and are aware of what we’re doing.

It’s no surprise that being able to pivot quickly on strategy is always important for any marketer or business professional; this is even more evident after the year we’ve had where things are changing quickly and with little notice.

When it came to our tourism accounts, we had to shift from focusing on branding a specific image to consumers of everything that destination had to offer, to providing the necessary service of educating people on safety protocols and providing security, while also being cognizant of the importance of the long-term image of our clients.

Tourism in a pandemic

In 2020 H2 Accelerator was tasked with the challenge of managing campaigns for tourism during a global pandemic. This was a huge learning opportunity for us in all departments.

We had to have multiple contingency plans in place. It is no longer about protecting the client from backlash, but about protecting entire communities and cultivating a semblance of security and safety. The power of digital marketing has never been greater, both as a destructive tool and a catalyst for real change.

We saw this as an opportunity to guide an important part of our community’s economy through an incredibly difficult period while fostering relationships that will last a lifetime. Tourism needs our support now more than ever.

Transparency is a powerful tool

Honesty and marketing are two words a lot of people don’t often associate together, this is something we predict will shift for certain agencies as we come out of 2020. A year where consumers, agencies, and businesses have all collectively shared in experiences. This changes things.

But that doesn’t mean the value of digital marketing decreases, only that it needs to adapt. People crave authenticity, they want brands to speak their language not because they’re trained to – but because they truly hear what the consumer is saying and empathize in a real way.

Documentaries like The Social Dilemma have also demonstrated a real problem with the internet and with digital advertising. This is a key consideration going forward and has changed the way even we look at our phone habits. The solution to consumer anxiety around these issues is transparency – both to clients and consumers.

The more honest agencies can be with clients about how things work, why we use the tactics we use, and the exact results we get and why, the better. The same goes for consumer communication – you can trust that we only work with clients that align with our own values, and we advertise in a way that considers the interests and needs of those consuming the content.

Coming out the other side

In the years that follow 2020, we believe the things we gain will outweigh some of what we lost. The appreciation for community and the value of our relationships being some of what we gain.

We’ll go out for coffee more, smile at strangers, visit our aging family members more often, appreciate our time with friends, and work to cultivate a true work-life balance. There is a plethora of little things we took for granted before Covid-19, things we never thought we were at risk of losing – these are the things that will become most precious to us.

From an agency perspective, we’re confident that after navigating 2020 and coming out with more insight than ever before, we’re now equipped to handle anything.

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