2020 is cancelled.
Everything has been put on hold and shunted into next year; the Olympics, the European Championships, films, TV programmes and soaps, musical tours, birthdays, moving house, new jobs (Remember: if you don’t work for the NHS, you are scum); all put off till 2021.
The lack of PPE in care homes prompted the head spokeswoman for the National Care Association, to say that once they had run out, they were working in; “marigolds and bin bags”.
That sums up the current situation nicely.
Thousands of people are going to lose their jobs and suffer financial ruin; others will lose loved ones; marriages and relationships will crumble under the pressure of lockdown, in the year that will become the world’s ground zero.
No-one knows how long lockdown is going to last; but we are going to work our way through some of the issues, some important, others less so, starting with the letter A.
Spare a thought for the poor old advertising industry. Presented with their dream captive audience, they have come up pathetically short and are seemingly bereft of ideas or creativity.
The only advertisers who have come up with some new TV ads, are the supermarkets, led by Aldi, who are putting out new commercials weekly. These ads are not creatively great, but they don’t need to be; they just get their message across effectively.
The rest of the ads on TV are essentially anything to do with health, so we get to see a lot of toothpaste ads, feminine hygiene and Gaviscon. The others are home security, cleaning products or entertainment. Tetley’s tea, vacuum cleaners and online bingo. As well as numerous charity ads; always an indication of unsold airtime.
Hair dye ads are popular, but, like most of the others, they lack an immediate resonance; they were obviously made before This Thing and now bunged on TV with little thought.
None of these types of advertisers are exactly well known for their creativity.
Obviously advertisers need to tread carefully at the moment, which is why so many are being as bland and inoffensive as possible. Sky TV is advertising a lot, which is brave, as their main proposition, sport, no longer exists. The Sun has just started a campaign trying to get people to buy its rag and it is the newspaper industry that could take some opportunities here.
In times of crisis, we want media we can trust, so why aren’t newspapers advertising more? Why aren’t they giving us free access to their websites, come to that? They are fighting for their relevance and existence.
Well, their agencies are currently in hiding, but so what? Get creative yourselves.
It’s not just safety and trust we want, nostalgia has a role to play. The Guardian has a great backlog of commercials it could release. Its ‘points of view’ cinema ad was a classic and would be just as relevant today and twice as impactful.
Beer commercials (Follow the Bear), trainers (Reebok & Nike), lemonade (R Whites), BT (Maureen/Bob), even Shake and Vac and 7-Up all have a rich heritage of ready made talking points.
So come on advertisers, get creative, don’t leave it to the likes of Domestos and Donkey Sanctuaries to influence the biggest TV audiences you are ever going to get.
A glimmer of hope?
Little Austria has a plan to restart its economy, potentially offering a template to other countries for their own escape plans.
The intention is that small shops will open the day after the Easter bank holiday, then all shops and hairdressers at the beginning of May.
Restaurants and hotels will open around mid-May and there will be no public events until late June. People will have to wear masks in public. Everything will be reviewed as more data becomes available; meaning everything could be reversed if infections rise again.
It is obviously useful for other countries to watch and learn from smaller economies as they experiment. Who knows what will happen, but well done Austria for showing the rest of us a plan that may, or may not, work.
Meanwhile, back in the UK.
By now, our B may well now be in a C, because he didn’t D.
B = Boris
C = Coronavirus/Covid-19/coma
D = Distance