2020 took a different route. For many, it has been the year of adaptation. Whether it be adapting to working from home, (which quickly turned into ‘living at work’) remembering to pick up a mask before leaving the house or becoming accustom to exercising indoors. A lot has changed.  

At Route, our thing has always been outdoor advertising. We know the industry inside out and love to work with clients to grow their brands from concept to product. We are part of an industry that can plan for most projections before they occur, but unsurprisingly, we didn’t predict that we would have to try and advertise outdoors when the general public are restricted to their sofas. This post intends to outline the ways in which we were able to adapt to our new normal whilst providing our clients with the best experience possible.  

1. Safety comes first 

I’ll keep this one short and sweet because it almost goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – the safety and health of our staff and clients is our number one priority. Before we began planning how we would navigate Route through the new normal, we made sure our team and our clients were comfortable doing so.  

2. It is so important to understand what it is our clients are trying to achieve 

Whenever we sit down with a client and unpack their ambitions – we always start with the same question: What are you trying to achieve? And we always stress the importance of being honest (sometimes brutally) here – do they want to increase brand awareness? Do they want to become the most iconic brand in their field? Do they simply want to make a load of money? We can’t achieve something until we know what it is.   

In a Covid-19 world, understanding why we are doing things is more important than ever. For many, at the beginning of the year, budgets were slashed and people had limited or no access to production studios or production teams, meaning many had to re-plan and re-strategize and simply couldn’t afford to create content for the sake of it. Although these were such trying times, they taught us the importance of keeping faffing to a minimum and being adaptable.  

If our clients aren’t quite sure what they want, that’s okay too – we’ll ask them what success looks like for them and quickly get to the bottom of why they decided to work with us.   

3. Acknowledge the shift in the media landscape 

We saw services rapidly realign during the start of March 2020 as library buildings and other information hubs were physically closed, phone users were spending a much higher amount of time on their devices and there were less people on the streets who would usually be digesting traditional forms of advertising. Pre-lockdown, the average user would scroll the length of Big Ben on their phone every day – so the amount of digital content we were consuming was higher than ever.  

This certainly posed as a challenge for Route, our audiences were now mainly existing in an online space and the advertising industry we had come to know inside out was beginning to change before our very eyes. However, we know that traditional still works and it works damn well. We just had to think of new ways to get it seen.  

With lockdown restrictions heavily in place, footfall was down; meaning the impacts of our billboards were not being maximised. Enter: our digi vans! Our digi vans took our client’s campaigns directly to the consumers and turned up in car parks, residential streets and service stations. Our high-performance parked-up promotional vehicles meant that we could continue to work with brands to achieve their goals and create content that was able to produce genuine engagement and brand activation.    

We partnered with country Public Health Wales in April, who’s aim was to spread the important government widely across the city; to stay home, save lives and protect the NHS. We have always reassured our clients that their brands are in the safest hands possible. Sanitized up, Route’s hands ensured that Public Health Wales’ message would gain exposure right across Wales in all areas.  

4. Get to grips with social media in an unsociable time  

We will admit, we love a billboard. We can’t get enough of billboards in fact. We deeply understand why they work, and we know how to maximise their impressions and how to effectively use data to manipulate their influence. Okay, we’re showing off. So, we will hold our hands up and say, up until now, we felt as though we haven’t really needed to become social media whizzes – we have been perfectly comfortable within our traditional marketing bubble. And a comfort place is a great place to be but as we all know; nothing exciting ever happens there.  

So, lockdown made us get social media savvy. As we learn to navigate through this Covid-19 climate, why not learn the ropes of the digital world too. Social media has allowed us to continue to connect with our clients and followers during a very unsociable time. Social media is one of the best ways for brands to stay informed, keep up with trends and assert your brands presence.  

5. Remember, humans are brilliant at adapting 

Working in an ever-changing industry, we are constantly adapting to shifts in consumer behaviour; with the viewing behaviour of younger audiences acting as a harbinger. Because we are so accustomed to readjusting our advertising to tailor to different audiences, we perhaps overlook the fact that we as humans are built to adapt. As we have seen this year, no matter how extreme the scenario, once we figure out why we need to do something, we are more than capable of altering our lifestyle accordingly.  

This suggests that even when the industry is experiencing strange changes, we as humans will naturally take it in our stride. So, don’t stop creating content, don’t stop posting on social media and don’t stop communicating your brand’s ethos – just make sure that the content means something. Our brains are built to love to share and pass on information, especially when it inspires us or evokes some kind of emotion.   

We wanted to conclude this post by thanking our clients for continuing to work with us during these difficult times. We have loved building out your brands with you and truly cherish the strong client relationships we have produced together.

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