Wavemaker CEO Amanda Richman shares insights on media amid COVID-19 pandemic and protests

"In this space in time, there needs to be an extra layer of understanding of the message you put out there."

Over the last three months, media planning and buying has had its fair share of disruptions and obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, advertisers are addressing other media issues related to the recent protests against racial injustice and discrimination. 

Campaign US caught up with Amanda Richamn, U.S. CEO of WPP’s Wavemaker, on an episode of Pillow Talk to chat through all things media and more during these unprecedented times. 

When it comes to advising clients on how and where to advertise while the protests take place, Richman said, "I wish it was as simple as COVID was in comparison because with that there was a unifying message across America and we told clients to lean into news because there’s where the audience is."

"In this space in time, there needs to be an extra layer of understanding of the message you put out there," she said, "Is that message relevant to the black community and is it powerful in making a statement and are you going to continue to be there?"

These are fair questions to ask, said Richman, and consumers will want to know the answers. 

"Yes, you can drum up the music and put words on a black backboard, but are you going to live true to that? And can you live true to it when it comes to what the make up of your board looks like? What’s leadership look like? How are you lifting up our own organization and putting people of color on your boards?" she said. 

Richman added that she’s not saying all of this to discourage advertising in news - she wants marketers to focus on the news but advises them to be thoughtful. 

"What is your message? What service can you provide? How can you help versus how can you promote? This certainly isn't the time to promote," she said.

Even internally, Richman said the agency took a step back to reevaluate its plans around Black Lives Matter and diversity before putting anything into action. 

"It’d be arrogant for us as an executive committee to come up with a plan when actually we need to hear from our people," she said. "We particularly need to hear from our black community and people of color in general and have them inform how we move forward and how we act. First we need to listen before we have this action plan because it could be tonedeaf if we don’t have it right."

For the full interview, which includes a look into future media trends and how Wavemaker pivoted and evolved throughout the pandemic - and much more, watch the video below. 

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