If anything akin to what we used to call normal life ever resumes, many people will look back on April 2020 as the most unusual month of their lives. It wasn’t just the commute to the office that disappeared, but any kind of in-person entertainment and social activity. The walls of the home became the boundaries of existence, with one main exception: the daily run round the exercise yard permitted by the government. For many people with children, keeping them educated and entertained while navigating unprecedented challenges in their job was already almost more than they could handle – Matt Bushby, for example, says he spent much of his time “setting up elaborate assault courses in my garden”. But others responded to the limitations and the altered rhythms of life by finding new ways to keep healthy, stay sane and have fun.
Starting with the obvious, there was no shortage of members of the Power 100 taking up new sports and exercise habits. Along with the popular options of cycling, tennis and yoga, other choices included golf (Kevin McNair), kayaking (Danielle Crook-Davies), open water swimming (Andy Hancock), pilates and spinning (Michelle Roberts) and calisthenics (Kris Robbens). Several of our marketers got into running – including Rufus Radcliffe, who is training for a “virtual marathon” in October – but none more so than trail runner extraordinaire Katharine Newby Grant. “I’ve run 800 kilometres across the past months, which is more than I have in the past 15 years,” she reveals casually. Not to be outdone, Katie McAlister has been finding ways to keep up with training for a charity swim of the English Channel.
When not burning calories, several marketers hit the kitchen seriously. Two tribes of bakers emerged during lockdown, both represented in the Power 100. Sarah Koppens – who also trained as a cricket scorer – got into sourdough, while Michelle McEttrick opted for the other trend: “I went the whole hog for banana bread for the first three weeks, not realising it was a global thing.” She also learned how to make fresh pasta and fresh tortillas – “both ridiculously easy”.
Anna-Maree Shaw, meanwhile, spent her time learning how to use the UK’s tiny barbecues – though at least she has enjoyed a hot summer after moving from Australia in January. Cristina Diezhandino also relocated this year and had to navigate moving her family to London during lockdown as she started her job as Diageo chief marketer in July. “Much of my ‘down time’ time has gone into the vast number of logistic tasks that come with moving countries, homes, changing schools, renting apartments, packing, with the added difficulty of having to do several of those virtually,” she says.
For several marketers, an upside of lockdown was the chance to spend more time with their dogs, while others have appreciated nature through bird watching (Radcliffe), gardening (Hancock) and obsessively buying plants (Omar Gurnah). Gurnah also found time to appreciate the urban environment, heading out at night to photograph London’s “super eerie” deserted cityscapes.
Others, meanwhile, filled their time with volunteering – such as Peter Zillig, who delivered prescription medicines to older people for the NHS – fundraising, mentoring and personal development. On top of his job at Channel 4 and positions with the ASA Council and WaterAid, Zaid Al-Qassab says he “also found time to join the board of Creative Diversity Network at exactly the time that the #BlackLivesMatter movement emerged – I really did have a knack of timing things this year”.
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