Activations and events beyond COVID-19

The way forward for Event and Brand Activation Agencies


Our livings have relied on person to person events, experiential and marketing campaigns. And then our worlds were turned upside down in a matter of a few short weeks. Sadly some will not survive, some will limp through and the rest of us will find a pivot in our deep agency experiences to pay the bills until we see a shift back to some semblance of normality. But it won’t go back to the way it was, not in the foreseeable future anyway. So what is the way forward for Agencies who rely on human experiences? Here is my take…

  1. Safety & Security
    We need to think of the safety of both our customers and our staff. We cannot knowingly expose anyone to risk and we can’t force anyone to do anything. This will mean smart activations that protect in ways that we never even dreamed of a few months ago. Be it Sani stations, distancing measures, modifications to stands and activations, reconfigured meeting rooms, individual food servings and wrapped items, even PPE, temperature checks and other protective measures. It is our responsibility to be thinking safety and security at all times.
  2. Customer Journey Mapping
    From start to finish we need to map every step and every point that we need to consider. Our pre-event comms, demand gen, our risk docs will now have things we didn’t ever dream was necessary, but that will make us better marketers and agency people. We need to spend more time mapping the path our customers will take so that we can give them comfort and reassurance along the way.
  3. Unconnected Connections
    We need to rethink how we connect and still make the connections meaningful. People will be somewhat cautious and in some extreme instances downright scared. How can we get clever about how we connect? Where a handshake is no longer a thing, let’s think about what we can do, like using LinkedIn’s connections connector, which works like a digital handshake when you are in close proximity. We need to look seriously at campaign objectives and as agencies, rethink what we have done in the past.
  4. Contingencies and Pivots
    For when we have to shift what we are doing quickly. This helps if you are an independent agency who has experienced staff with a gift for flexibility. Executional excellence is expected at all times, but we need to be thinking out and over the current situations and be so close to our work that we can pivot and shift as needed. This means we may need to change the way we negotiate our contracts with venues and campaigns to ensure this flexibility is built in. Last minute cancellations and date changes may become the new way forward as we all flex and move through this situation.
  5. Creating a New Normal
    This goes for our business and our interactions with our clients. Let’s learn from this situation and take the best of what we are currently experiencing and reimagine our traditions. What we didn’t dream as possible a few short months ago will become everyday ‘normal’. Technology can and should be a conduit to creating great campaigns, however we need to remember that after all of this isolation humans need humans to connect with, we just need to be careful and considerate.

The good news is that we are already seeing a shift. With our governments starting to relax lockdown laws we will slowly emerge and get to work on what’s next. Many clients are asking about venue and space availability, marketers are planning and working on what campaigns will look like post COVID-19 and that is a really great thing to hear, and in particular to be involved in. The exciting thing is that we can reshape a time in our agency lives where we can teach our young people how to be truly nimble and flexible, get curious about issues and really question the work we are delivering.

Let’s lead with confidence as agency professionals in this space. Confidence that as agencies we’ve got this for our clients, their customers and importantly, our people. So that leads me to believe that we can build collaborative and meaningful campaigns beyond this changed way of life, because as I have always said, you can’t smell a perfume online!


Alicia Beachley
Event and Activations Specialist
CEO | April5 Agency