Campaign podcast: Group M's Brian Wieser urges marketers to reassess everything

Clockwise from top left: ex-Halifax brand spokesman Howard, Wieser and Nike
Clockwise from top left: ex-Halifax brand spokesman Howard, Wieser and Nike

Renowned ad industry analyst Wieser discusses how brands are being forced to adapt amid the pandemic.

It's time for marketers to reassess the very assumptions about what consumers want and how their brand engages with them after the coronavirus crisis, Group M leading media analyst Brian Wieser has warned.

Speaking on this week's Campaign podcast, Wieser, who is global president, business intelligence, at Group M, pointed out that the crisis is particularly affecting smaller businesses that may have been slower to transition to digital platforms in recent years. 

He said: "Small businesses have been disproprtionately impacted, especially those that are retail-skewed. Those smaller businesses who are often in a desperate situation struggling to survive are finding that the only way to keep this business going is to transition part of the business online. We’re seeing business transformation by these smaller business bring forward their [digital] business by several years."

This is one of the reasons why, Wieser suggested, that last week's report by Warc forecast that this year's global adspend contraction will not be as bad as in the 2009 financial crash.

"A business that is transitioning its business from a physical one to a digital one probably will spend money to support their business with advertising," he added.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Campaign about marketing trends during and after pandemic, Wieser urged marketers to "reassess the very assumptions" they have made about consumers and how they engage with them as the crisis accelerates the economy's pivot to digital platforms.

However, this does not necessaily mean that marketers should spend less. 

Wieser said: "If there is economic decline, in general those marketers will be weak in their behaviours and you will see softer spending, and that’s what presents an opportunity for marketers that recognise what an average company will do. If you are not 'average', try to find new opportunties – just question the assumptions about why people make the decisions they make."

Campaign consulting editor Jeremy Lee also joined host Omar Oakes to discuss the surprise Halifax ad account move, some of the week's more notable ad campaigns and how the protests over George Floyd's killing is again posing tough questions for brands trying to act with purpose.

This episode was recorded by No.8 and edited by Ben Londesbrough at Campaign.

Running order

1.15: How New Commercial Arts pinched Halifax from the founders’ former agency, Adam & Eve/DDB
5.10: Howard and other classic Halifax ads
8.05: Why Walkers has split with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO after 22 years
11.00: What’s happening at Bartle Bogle Hegarty amid Jon Peppiatt’s departure
13.20: Industry numbers show green shoots of optimism
15.33: Brian Wieser interview: global media and marketing trends since the pandemic and what we expect to happen next
42.26: Ad review, featuring NikeCampaign Against Living Miserably and Argos

[Ross McManus, father of Elvis Costello, sang the song featured in the R White's ad but was not the actor – fact-check ed.]

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