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Five for Friday

Wow what a week! From the sad demise of retail on the high street to the promise of the first Vax train ‘pulling into the station’. It’s been emotional. Let’s end this week on a high!

Social media at its best is full of positivity, fun, and encouragement. I get a kick from reading some of the amazing business successes on LinkedIn, here are some of my favourite Pivot stories from past nine months. Warner Bros, Jägermeister, London Blooms, ASOS & I’m a Celebrity: Five successful pivots we can all learn a trick or two from...

Flower Power: you’re not alone, your networks will support you

Businesswoman Alison Gulliman of London Blooms would have been nearing completion putting Christmas decorations into major London Businesses last week, but with no contracts at all for Christmas 2020 she needed to think of another way to generate revenue.

Just before lockdown 2.0, and while the flower markets were open, she created “Friday Flowers” and now delivers to Customers’ homes within a 5k radius around her own London home.

Tapping up her social and business networks helped to make last week the biggest week for orders to date: she puts that down to: “Everyone needing some ‘flower happiness’ in these dark times.”

Blockbuster: easy access

Cinema attendance, clearly, has taken a massive hit this year with most, if not all, of the big releases pushed back or postponed until 2021.

Unwittingly, the producers at Warner Brothers moved Wonder Woman 1984, originally scheduled for release in November 2019, to 2020 summer blockbuster status, slap-bang in the middle of the corona virus pandemic. New release dates were announced. First mid-August, then October, and now Christmas Day.

As cinemas start to reopen, the pandemic has ensured that movie-going habits have not yet returned to normal. With the announcement of Wonder Woman 1984’s simultaneous release in US cinemas and HBO Max on Christmas Day, it appears that Warner Bros has accepted that it’s unlikely to reach the giddy heights of the first outing back in 2017. However, it could provide a substantial boost to the subscriber count of HBO Max, which has been trailing behind the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video.

Only yesterday Warner Bros. announced a new one-year plan that all of its films scheduled to launch in 2021 will be released on HBO Max at the same time they are available in theatres. It’s an example of how AT&T is adapting to the corona virus pandemic, allowing people to safely watch new films at home without having to venture out to a movie theatre, and a great way for the brand to make its films easier to access.

(HBO Max is not available in the UK. We’ll have to wait for Wonder Woman 1984 to release on Wednesday 16th December).

The Bomb: support your people as they support you

Whilst other alcohol brands pivoted to producing hand sanitiser, the iconic nightlife brand, Jägermeister opted instead to help those unable to work during lockdown through its #SaveTheNight campaign[1].

#SaveTheNight has resonated with people in more than 50 countries. What began as a desire to do something altruistic during the pandemic, has become a rich storytelling platform which the brand is now looking to build on in the future.

It is a series of hands-on initiatives created and funded by Jägermeister with the aim of keeping club culture alive through the pandemic, and more importantly helping those in the industry who contribute to the currently-decimated nightlife community:

  • Meister Drop-Ins: join a Meister's hosted party, on their terms, at their link and with whoever they want to welcome

  • Meisterclass Series: from Mixology and fashion to dance and more, watch the Meisterclasses videos and learn ‘5 Easy Hacks’ to wow your friends at your staying-in parties/ events

  • #UNITEDWESTREAM: livestreaming from empty Berlin nightclubs direct to your living room, so you can rave from the comfort and safety of your home

“ONCE TOGETHER, ALWAYS TOGETHER: Exploring, listening, dancing, connecting; the night brought us together. Now we’re doing our bit for the nightlife community by supporting the talented people whose livelihoods are at risk.”

The online frontline: keep one eye on your customer needs in the short term while the other eye watches longer term trends in their behaviour.

ASOS is a fully online business and whilst they experienced disruption from Covid-19 in terms of increases material incremental costs, mitigating action taken across the business combined with the significant and unexpected reduction in returns rates, generated a profit for the business this year of c.£45m.[2]

The shape of customer demand, and hence what resonated as the most relevant product, shifted dramatically from March as Covid-19 related lockdowns impacted customers’ lifestyle and shopping habits. Demand for core ‘going out’ product was severely impacted by lifestyle restrictions: ASOS adapted their product mix to match this shift in 20-somethings lifestyles, increasing their mix of casualwear, activewear and Face + Body. Perhaps not going out was a factor in decreasing returns rates?

A key focus for ASOS this year has been to further improve product presentation and social media engagement by developing video content that felt native and organic to app channels. The year had started well and ASOS maintained this momentum through the second half by successfully pivoting their social video content to reflect the realities of lockdown lifestyles for our customers. This translated into over 79m engagements across social channels during the year, with over 200m video views and over 275m story views.

ASOS also experimented with different social media channels this year. Their first major TikTok campaign, “AySauceChallenge” used a combination of ASOS and creator commissioned content to drive ASOS brand recognition and awareness.

The hashtag generated over 1.6bn views, and made ASOS the only European fashion brand to break a billion views over the campaign period in 2020.

It is widely understood that if a brand is able to advertise through a recession their long term stance will be greatly enhanced vs. competitors who may adopt short term strategies.

Get Me Out Of Here! Rising to the challenge

I'm a Celebrity 2020 is a ratings success - becoming most watched non-news show of the year.

The new series, filmed at Gwrych Castle in Abergele, hosted by presenting duo Ant and Dec, reached an audience of 13.8 million TV viewers over the first seven days of its availability, with a 52% audience share. An additional 0.5 million viewers also watched via non-TV devices taking the total to 14.3 million viewers.

The figures mark the most viewers for ITV since the Croatia VS England semi-final match in the 2018 World Cup. The show is taking place at the north Wales' landmark instead of the Australian jungle for the first time in its history as a result of the corona virus pandemic.

Richard Cowles, Director of Entertainment at ITV Studios, said, "We pulled out all the stops to try and make the series happen in Australia. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and despite us looking at many different contingencies, it became apparent that it just wasn’t possible for us to travel and make the show there.”[3]

The ratings may influence the decision on the show's location next year - reportedly under discussion. An insider told the newspaper[4]: 'It's been really challenging for everyone involved just to get the show on air this year, but it's given producers a chance to reflect and take stock more than usual. They've loved trying new things with a different location and the idea of having alternate years has been discussed.’

Tonight will see one of the last four remaining contestants being crowned, for the first time ever, King or Queen of the Castle.

There are many more positive pivot stories that you will most certainly have come across. Please share them here on this post so that we may all receive some positivity in our newsfeeds. You never know, others may be able to glean some hope and possibly use these examples to help them transform their own businesses into the future. Contributions welcome.

[1] Jägermeister creates #SaveTheNight bottle (thespiritsbusiness.com) [2] https://www.asosplc.com/~/media/Files/A/Asos-V2/reports-and-presentations/final-results-statement-2020.pdf [3] https://planetradio.co.uk/greatest-hits/entertainment/television/im-a-celebrity-filmed-uk/ [4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-8939883/ITV-considering-hosting-Im-Celebrity-year-Wales-series-success.html