Some old rules and some new rules for consumer media in Covid Ireland

Some old rules and some new rules for consumer media in Covid Ireland

Mark James-MC at our Reopening Ireland webinar brings us through his thoughts on what the results mean for brands and marketeers.

This insightful webinar had as its touchstone a new, fourth wave of Covid-19 tracking research conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of TAM. The results of the tracking were combined in the webinar with the operational business experience of four key players in the Irish marketing industry, each contributing their own perspective.

Ian McShane, from B&A, began by using the consolidated findings of all four waves of the research to bring the eyes and ears of the consumer to the conversation.

Ann-Marie O’Brien from Three Ireland then talked about the practicalities  of keeping a conversation going with that consumer, especially given the limitations of life under lockdown.

Taking a longer term view, Andy Pierce from Core explored the potential implications of the Covid crisis and how, in order to stay successful, we should continue to prove the worth of brands, protect their values, and promote them in the right way.

Finally, as champion for the commercial TV industry in Ireland, Jill McGrath from TAM reminded us of why TV remains the leading medium for building brands, and how Irish TV is evolving and adapting in line with today’s viewer (or user).

Taking all four speakers together, then we can expand into three broad themes which came out of the webinar:

  1. Hold on tight it’s the ‘coronacoaster’!
  2. There’s no such thing as never
  3. Don’t let your trust go to rust


  1. Hold on tight, it’s the coronacoaster! Even though we have been on this ‘coronacoaster’ for over 6 months now, we heard from all speakers that we are only at the ‘end of the beginning’ of the ride. Either as consumers or as marketers, we still don’t know which behaviours will properly stick. For example:
    • To many of us home is now headquarters, as we continue to sit behind our bedroom desks (doing our extra 48 minutes of work a day!). So what will happen to the traditional office workspace? What kind of hybrid model might emerge and stay? How could this impact our long-term media consumption?
    • Staying outside the home, we might not be walking and talking amongst real people as much as we’d like to be, but there’s plenty of centrifugal movement in the world of consumer buying behaviour. Where once we may have been sometime, or not-at-all digital shoppers we are now an army of regulars scaling the walls of traditional retail. Much of this change runs off the fuel of investment into digital media, either as storefront (PPC) or ‘instore’ display. As white vans roam our streets, we can already see the (unfortunate) results of this big behaviour change with bricks-and-mortar retail closures and job losses


  • We’re more cranky than we used to be, and who can blame us for the year that’s in it? We have gone from the initial lockdown feeling of life in flux (fear, denial, confusion) to the ‘new normal’ (acceptance, resilience, simple pleasures) to ‘over the rainbow’ (feral, release, caution, hope, confusion) to where we are now which is a new kind of ‘limbo land’. The question is what will this do to us as consumers? Will we respect more those brands that have stood with us, or have our new digital buying habits, and new-found thrift, made us more likely to be switchers?
  • Whatever the mood, Ian McShane in his presentation of the tracking research suggested a new set of table stakes for consumers which are value, availability and convenience.
  • Building on this point, Andy Pierce in his talk referred to the current received wisdom of marketing – the two pillars of ‘mental availability’ and ‘physical availability’, but he then added a third pillar, ‘digital availability’. This pillar representing a confirmed role for digital in the consumer journey, and being able to show up “in new browsing moments”.


  1. There’s no such thing as never
    • As a business, between marketers, media owners, and agencies, many of us may have experienced the pressures and joys (!) of producing campaigns during lockdown. Amongst teams who are experienced in working with each other, then we have found this new way of working easier than we might originally have thought. In fact, some of the old walls have just come tumbling down – we are all more accessible, ‘process’ has speeded up, and we have met difficult deadlines through extra levels of cooperation and understanding
    • The origination and production of the Three commercial, ‘Monster Hunter’ bore witness to this new way of working. In her talk Ann-Marie described how a beautifully simple idea, that came from a relevant and relatable insight, led to a powerful new ad being made. All done at the height of the C19 restrictions and in double-quick turnaround time with no set, no crew and a remote director (in France!).
    • Ann-Marie went on to say that this whole case history came from staying true to the purpose of the ‘Three’ brand, and using this purpose as a compass throughout the whole process. So no pandemic panic, just keeping faith in the brand, and keeping the show on the road. Her biggest learning, surely echoed across our industry, was that extra constraints don’t mean “No”, they just mean ‘How can we do things differently?”


  1. Don’t let your trust go to rust
    • Trust is hard earned and easily lost. Nowadays we too often see a lack of trust infecting our understanding of the world, particularly through the social channels that we consume.
    • Both Jill McGrath and Ian McShane talked about this role of trust and the different levels of trust that consumers invest in different media. What’s clear is that the tracking shows that no other medium is as trusted or as familiar as TV. It’s the medium that provides trusted news and information, satisfies a yearning for escape and comfort, but also sets the bar for quality. Here in late 2020, just as it has done in the last six decades TV continues to provide an environment of long-held trust for advertising messages.
    • With this in mind, Ann-Marie talked about how that trust in TV allowed the ‘Three’ team to deliver the ‘Monster Hunter’ ad in the exact sort of tone that they wanted with a focused media choice that minimised waste.

She explained, ”If it weren’t for TV, then I don’t think this ad would have been as effective, and the message wouldn’t have reached as many people as it did.”

  • Like ‘Three’, many advertisers during the pandemic have embraced the opportunity of much bigger, trusting and cost-effective TV audiences. Other advertisers who haven’t are perhaps proving the old adage of “Something happens if you don’t advertise – nothing”

To finish this webinar summary, then, yes, the still hair-raising coronacoaster ride continues and, yes, we may need to keep turning on a sixpence, BUT we need to keep our business beliefs intact. That’s still trusting in our own instinct as marketers, trusting in our own brands and trusting in consumers. We have some new rules and some old rules. Like any game of sport we just have to adopt and adapt to them.

The full deck for this study is available by visiting the Client Area of our website