Year in Review: How to survive a pandemic? Focus on relationships over revenue.
From Member Kevin McNulty, President & CMO, Momentum Worldwide
“Won’t this year just hurry up and end?!” We’ve all heard or said it. Now, as we turn the calendar page one last time, we can finally say “good riddance to 2020!”
December is typically a time to reflect on the year, hopefully one of sustained growth, and look forward with optimism for the year to come. That’s a little harder right now. The massive human toll alone makes any review a solemn one. Specifically speaking of the Experiential industry, there is no shortage of wreckage: brands on the precipice, activation budgets slashed, client teams in hiatus, employee layoffs and furloughs, agencies shuttering. But despite all that, hopefully, we can all look back and recognize moments of positivity, and perhaps even triumph.
I’ll never forget; it was a few weeks into the lockdown when we began to realize that our industry as we knew it had changed forever. It was clear everyone would have to adapt and change, but to what? And how? With no clear vision of what lay ahead, we knew as a leadership team that, more than ever, our clients needed us. Slashed budgets and lack of consumers be damned, if there was ever a time to truly lead, it was then. While no one could foretell what lay ahead, it intuitively felt that being generous with what we’ve always had in abundance—creativity and perseverance—might be what brands needed most.
So, like travelers walking into a dark cave with no flashlight, we pressed forward. We immediately began fielding global pulse studies to capture real-time consumer sentiment on the role brands could play in this new normal. We leaned heavily on experience in the virtual world with longstanding clients like Microsoft and SAP to fill the physical-experience void. And we brought this refined expertise to every client who would listen. This was not a time to wait for a brief; it was a time to double-down on our commitment to keeping our clients’ brands relevant and present. To be honest, most of our (frankly amazing!) ideas never saw the light of day. But that wasn’t the only objective. Being there for our clients, staying focused on their brands, providing them with insights to better meet their objectives, that we did in spades. And while we were at it, we stayed connected as an agency and produced some incredible work for our clients. We launched Momentum VXi, our virtual-experience platform. We created Amex Campus, a virtual platform for our client to engage small businesses with resources and practical help from business experts. We brought Merck unlikely, and successful, partnerships to takeover Twitch with a multiple sclerosis live-stream on MS Day. And we brought the drive-in movie to hundreds of Walmart parking lots across the country, reinforcing Walmart’s commitment to the communities they serve. We also pitched and won a world-class client to end our year on a high note. It would have been easier to give into the malaise that threatened to keep us all in stasis. But that’s never been our way. We know a vaccine is on its way, and consumers and fans will want to return to the lifestyle they’ve missed so much. Brands have the opportunity to be part of that welcome return, and we will be right by their side when they do it. Here’s to 2021!
Kevin McNulty is President and Chief Marketing Officer of Momentum Worldwide, leading the agency’s global growth and marketing communications. Over his 25+ year career with Momentum, Kevin has led the company to become the world’s most awarded and largest experiential advertising agency, working with some of the world’s most famous brands. Previously, he has served as Europe/Middle East and Africa Regional Director, APAC Regional Director, and Managing Director of our San Francisco office. Prior to joining Momentum, Kevin led the sports and entertainment marketing unit ad:vent that was acquired by McCann-Erickson to form Momentum Worldwide ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.