Guidance From Google And Past Experiences

By Karen Huntoon

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Lead Digital Strategist

The last couple weeks has been an absolute whirlwind as we all adapt to a strange, but temporary norm. Yesterday, I drove up to my mom’s house so my kids could talk to her from her front lawn through her window. Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts has been our lifeline, both personally and professionally, but it can’t beat seeing someone’s face in person, even if its from 6 feet away.

Between all the uncertainty and quickly-developing news, tough decisions must be made. Does business just go on as normal? Many clients are wondering if they should continue their advertising campaigns as usual. The answer is going to depend ultimately on the industry and the organization, but it’s hard to find guidance in such an unprecedented time. You need to start with voices you know and past experiences.

My friend, Joshua Spanier, Google’s Global Marketing VP for Media, published an article yesterday that I absolutely love. Josh explains some of the guiding principles his team is leaning on during these uncertain times that I believe most marketing teams can use.

Back when I was at Elizabeth Arden, Josh and I worked on a campaign for Britney Spears’ fragrance line. While much has changed since then, many of the same things still apply today. In Josh’s article, what connects with me the most is Guidance #4, “Changing priorities to navigate uncertainty.” In short, this guidance focuses on what brands, products, or services under your organization can be used right now to support those who may need it.

If you are a brand that’s helpful, show them what you are doing by promoting your philanthropic programs. If you have a line of products that is useful for the climate we are now living in, use it as the centerpiece of a campaign. While there is a line to walk between trying to grow your business and being insensitive to the times, this guiding principle will surely help steer your marketing in the right direction. Our footwear client,, donates meals to children for every pair of shoes purchased. That’s an amazing program to highlight in ads.

While it’s hard to imagine, where we are now is not where we will be six months from now. Back when I worked at UCI (Calvin Klein, Vera Wang Fragrance Brands) the company almost held off on launching a wedding-inspired Vera Wang fragrance in Spring of 2002. Six months prior were the tragic and horrifying events of September 11th, and with everyone involved living in New York City at the time it was almost impossible to wrap our heads around anything happy. Many executives wanted to pull the plug on this wedding-themed project.

One brave executive pushed us to move forward, which was a real “roll of the dice.” At the time this decision was made no one could forecast what nine, six, or even three months down the line could bring from a consumer standpoint. To our surprise, the world bounced back with a higher-birth rate the following year and an increase in marriages. Given the wedding-theme, this Vera Wang fragrance was a top selling project launched that year.

We all wish we could fast-forward to that moment where we can sit face-to-face with loved ones again, see our co-workers, and get back to the day-to-day grind that I’m sure we all took for granted. As a nation we have gone through unprecedented times before and come back stronger than ever. I’m confident that this too will be one of those moments.

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Published on Mar. 23, 2020, Last Updated on Jul. 18, 2022