Changes in Marketing

By Tom Dougherty

21 December 2020

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Changes in marketing: What it really means to pivot

Each year, the Association of National Advertisers announces a marketing word of the year. In my mind, they are usually silly. But they do mark changes in marketing. Or at least the perception of it.

For 2020, we could get snarky. “Shit” would be appropriate. But ANA named “pivot,” a word describing how marketers adapted to a year when nothing seemed normal.

changes in marketingThe changes in marketing some of ANA’s members reported weren’t really all that revolutionary. Mastercard says it pivoted from “physical experiences to digital experiences.”

McDonalds says it “pivoted to a more emotional message.” And Trinity Health says it “pivoted to highlight new options for receiving care.”

In my mind, those changes in marketing are just good sense. In fact, 2020 didn’t actually cause abrupt pivots. It simply accelerated trends that were already in place.

“Making changes in marketing is something every brand should consider. The list of companies who fail to do so are the losers no matter if there’s a pandemic or not. It’s called adaption, and looking to the future. Sony didn’t. Blackberry didn’t.”

Changes in marketing SHOULD happen

Case in point. As you may have heard, WarnerMedia is placing all of its 2021 movie releases on its streaming service, HBO Max, this year. Those releases – starting with Christmas’ Wonder Woman 1984 – will simultaneously be released in theaters and stream on HBO Max for a month.

There was a lotta faux outrage over this move. True changes in marketing – or, pivots, if you will – often do. But this strategy was already trending this way coming into the year. A handful of new streaming services debuted in 2020, including HBO Max, Peacock and Apple+.

It was only a matter of time until a WarnerMedia-like move came to fruition. This pandemic simply sped that trend up. (And if you want to watch the movie in a theater. Go ahead.)

Making changes in marketing is something every brand should consider. The list of companies who fail to do so are the losers no matter if there’s a pandemic or not. It’s called adaption, and looking to the future. Sony didn’t. Blackberry didn’t.

The list goes on.

So, yes, there were some changes in marketing this year. Pivots, if you will. But that’s not so out of the norm. It’s just a definition of what all great brands do.

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