COVID-19 the catalyst for new planning model “Culture Converted” at Pulse

COVID-19 the catalyst for new planning model “Culture Converted” at Pulse

The COVID-19 pandemic has, for most of us, led to swift changes in our behaviour. From constant hand sanitisation and donning of protective masks at Bunnings, through to checking the news every five minutes for updates about fresh cases, new behaviours are being formed daily. The perpetual shift in culture presents both a challenge and opportunity for brands to connect with consumers.

To help brands respond to the rapidly changing culture in a COVID-19 world, Pulse has launched “Culture Converted” - a new planning model with data at its core.

Managing Director at Pulse Jacqui Abbott says brands must respond to the “cultural shift at speed” to be successful. 

“Being culturally connected has always been a core part of what we do, and cultural insight drives a lot of our creative thinking for the brands that we work with.

“2020 has shown us that cultural norms have changed forever. We are seeing new behaviours forming every second off the back of the crisis. Brands need to respond to the cultural shift at speed,” Jacqui said.

The key behaviour changes Jacqui has seen since the beginning of the pandemic include Australians of all ages becoming “tech-elite overnight”, the drastic increase in news consumption, and the changing nature of social media use.

“We only need to look at the data from different media outlets to know people are more informed than ever. News consumption and readership data has increased double-fold, triple-fold in many instances. Secondly, social media formats have evolved, and that is also being driven by global behaviours around COVID.

“The online habits of the entire nation have changed and that’s been forced due to the circumstances. This opens opportunities for brands to rethink segmentation,” Jacqui said.

The changing behaviours as a result COVID-19 were a driving factor in Pulse rolling out the new planning model. Culture Converted uses data and insights from the outset of the campaign to build a cultural mapping strategy that underpins paid, earned and owned media. This integrated, multi-service approach is imperative to be able to respond quickly to change in culture, according to Jacqui.

“I'm very much of the view that agencies need to be multi-service in this time. In a constrained economy, and there's no doubt we're operating in one, I think that we have more pressure on us than ever before when it comes to client briefs and the work we do to not only act fast, but really be able to deliver measurable results.

“Every brief is different and every brand is really unique. There's no one size fits all. But no matter the brief, what has changed dramatically is time frames and expectations. Most briefs, these days, are a sprint. We no longer have the luxury of a long lead time. In many ways, we need to be able to pitch in 15 or 30 minutes and deliver end-to-end campaigns in the 24 / 48 hours cycle to really be able to respond to change in culture. And that's becoming more and more important,” Jacqui said.

Jacqui points to Pulse’s work with Tourism Australia as an example of a brand that has adapted quickly to changes in consumer behaviour and a shifting culture due to COVID-19.

“Travel and tourism has been one of the hardest hit sectors this year, not just with COVID, but also the bushfires in early 2020.

“What we saw emerging from this was that virtual experiences were being used more and more for escapism. This opened a real opportunity for Tourism Australia because, although we can’t travel, digital platforms and digital experiences are giving people around the world the opportunity to seek inspiration and visit different places virtually. This is what drove the thinking around the "Live from Aus" events.

“Tourism Australia launched a three-day digital event celebrating the best of Australia from our country’s most famous places, people and things to do. A big contributing factor to the success of this campaign was that usage of Facebook Live had exponentially increased so it was delivered in a format that made sense.

"“The result of the campaign and its success has seen Tourism Australia looking at ongoing use of Facebook Live as a platform to communicate with local and global audiences. The campaign was a good example of responding to culture with the delivery of the event in a virtual world. Secondly, targeting from a paid perspective was essential in making that campaign a success. It was all about reaching the right people in the right market at the right time,” Jacqui said.

The implementation of Culture Converted has also meant upskilling the team at Pulse and drawing on paid expertise within the WPP network.

“We already had a team of planners and data strategists within Pulse and OPR more broadly, but what we've done as part of this is used them and their expertise to really upskill the broader teams and our client's consultants as part of that. We believe that data and insight really needs to sit at the centre of creative thinking and, in terms of how we are not only coming up with the right ideas for clients, but also in being able to respond to culture at speed,” Jacqui said.

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