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Show 118 – Futureproofing your business in a post-covid world

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Recorded in partnership with FutureBrand, we looked at brands within key industries that have a heavy focus on a physical presence such as sports, hospitality, travel and entertainment. We talked about how they are adapting to the continuing concerns over the corona virus pandemic and the impact of social distancing rules, as well as looking at how their industry leaders are set to future proof that business in a post Covid world.

Main panel guests were:

We also heard during the show from:

Recording online with (Top L-R) George Gottl and Russell Goldsmith; (Bottom) Sanjay Patel and Aliya Khan
Recording online with (Top L-R) George Gottl and Russell Goldsmith; (Bottom) Sanjay Patel and Aliya Khan

Our guests began by sharing the biggest impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their businesses.

Aliya explained that as she works for a hotel company, the biggest thing for them has been getting guests to a point where they feel comfortable coming and staying, with this literal unknown and the lack of transparency. She said it’s very easy to want to barricade yourself at home and not be around other people or travel. So, for them, it was all about, how you mitigate some of that because it’s a very real concern. Where do you go? You go to the place that you know you’ll be safe and anything outside of that bubble becomes questionable. So, it’s been hard for their business, but it’s a collective industry and everybody has banded together, and they are starting to see the needle move slowly.

She added that they are seeing a lot more collaboration with other hotel companies, particularly when this all started, certainly at a very high level with the senior executives, but secondarily subject matter specialists. She said all of the designers were talking to each other; What are you doing? What’s working? How is this going? They were learning from each other. Aliya told us that she was recently traveling and ended up staying with a competitor, she explained that it was interesting to see how they handled their cleaning protocols. So, she thinks that at the end of it, everyone acknowledges that there’s no unique solution for some of this. It’s how do you make the mass of the world feel comfortable traveling, whether they stay with them or someone else. It’s let’s get people feeling good about what’s out there.

Sanjay then explained how he was all set to launch The Hundred in July, a new cricket tournament in England and Wales. Eight new teams, men and women. When we went into lockdown on 23rd March, they had a look at what their options were. They examined all options from hosting a tournament behind closed doors, to hosting a shorter length tournament, they were left with only one decision, which was to unfortunately postpone The Hundred to 2021. So, that was the biggest impact for them, it had a big impact financially in terms of the revenue, that they will not get in from broadcast, sponsorships or matchday ticketing revenue.

George added that Covid has accelerated a lot of trends that were already beginning to happen prior to the pandemic. The digitisation of consumers in general is something that has had a huge impact, especially the clients that UXUS deal with and their particular disciplines is working in the physical world. For example, one of their clients is McDonald’s, and as Aliya said about safety and feeling secure in an environment, it’s incredibly critical, especially in the restaurant world. So, he believes Covid has accelerated this idea of contactless physical retail experiences. The beauty world, another category that they work in a lot is also highly affected by this. Again, the safety aspect of sampling and products. How do you sample cosmetics in a world where you have an infection rate? Certainly, this idea of contactless and more digital types of experiences, doesn’t mitigate the need for physical spaces because consumers still love to shop as a pastime, it’s something that’s not going to go away, but how they shop in the future, is definitely going to be transformed.

Aliya admitted that she is tired of seeing places that look like crime scenes with the yellow and black tape. She believes that as an ingenious community of inventors and designers and thoughtful people, there are smarter ways to do that. So now that we’re in this world of, how do we get people to move through, be healthy, be safe, but feel welcomed, there’s nothing more frustrating or disappointing than seeing the black and yellow tape and thinking, you don’t want me here. So how do you take the core of hospitality; make people feel welcome? Step one. How do you ensure their safety? Step two and then step three, and this is where it’s going to bring out the best in all designers is the ingenuity, how do we get back to a world of meetings? Aliya said that they have been looking at a number of different things. For example, the future of fitness. What is fitness going to be as we move through this? Are you going to go to hotel gym anymore? What can they bring to you in your room? How does that work? Minibars. Do you really want to be opening up a mini bar versus what if they brought you something that was curated to your specific needs? Aliya believes the approach is the same with meetings. How do you allow people ways to gather, brainstorm, engage, connect, look at each other in the eye, but do it in a way that perhaps is less than conventional? She told a story of how she went to a meeting, her first business meeting, and it was interesting, little tables of two scattered throughout the ballroom. There was plenty of distance, two people to a table. But there was something incredible about being able to look out at a room and look at the gentleman in the corner as he was presenting and look at him in the eye and it reminds you that where Zoom is incredible, there is something about a face to face and being able to engage on that level that she thinks we as a community all have to focus on recapturing. That’s where the invention will come. That’s the thought. How do we get back into that world where people feel comfortable enough to do it but do it in clever ways?

A large part of that conference experience is the networking area outside, with all the exhibition booths and also the lunch buffet. To get around not being able to have these spaces in the same way, Aliya gave the example of the Yo! Sushi style conveyer belt, where there is no need for menus, and no one is serving you directly. She said that’s the thinking they are going after, what are the ways that you can be inventive, still deliver experience, do it well, be a little bit memorable, but also make people feel safe. She also gave the example of a bento box, are they wrapped and packaged in specific ways? Or Moet & Chandon in a champagne vending machine. If you can’t go up to a bartender, maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world, taking your card and swiping and getting a little flute of champagne. What she is loving is the way people are adapting and changing and being accepting of these changes that in a way that she doesn’t think we were before.

George explained how, at the time of recording, they were still not allowed to meet in large groups. He said that we also have to remember that pandemics have happened in the past as well, so it’s not like this is going to be a permanent state of terror continuously, but it will transform the landscape and it will transform behaviour. He believes that’s where we’re going to get the newness, the innovation that Aliya described in terms of new ways of eating, new ways of behaving in a lot of ways. George thinks it’s quite exciting and it offers a lot of opportunity. It’s kind of like a recalibration of what the experiences have been in the past.

Sanjay said that, again at the time of recording, their office was still closed. So, he hadn’t ventured that far away from his computer screen, unfortunately. But he loved what Aliya said, because it’s about reimagining what conferencing might look like and what these spaces are. He added that if he had to go to a conference next week, would he be 100 percent comfortable? Probably not, because that’s human nature. He doesn’t think people are 100 percent going back to completely normal. However, once you do it once and if that environment isn’t intimidating, if that environment, as Aliya said, doesn’t have big red crosses and yellow stickers and so on and is done in a way that makes people feel comfortable and it’s done in a way that’s really relaxed, people will get back to normal. He thinks that it’s a huge opportunity for businesses to completely reimagine what they offer with their customer experience. If you do that, when we do get back to normal, Sanjay imagines those businesses are going to be doing brilliantly because they would have already thought about how does this work for the customer? And what are the benefits that I can bring to that experience?

In terms of bringing crowds back to the sporting venues, Sanjay said he doesn’t see it happening in 2020 and the best thing they can hope for this year is potentially some pilots of having crowds in stadia, which will give a really good blueprint to learn from that. If we’re in this state next year, the way they would approach The Hundred is what is their unique take on it. How do they use that to their advantage? Sport very much relies on, at the moment, packed stadium and a great atmosphere. That’s what the TV cameras want. That’s what the players want. However, if that’s not possible, what is their version? Do they think about reconfiguring stadia? Do they think about bringing more of a cinema feel into a stadium? These are things that Sanjay thinks, as a new competition which is designed for a family audience and designed to be entertaining, are the sort of things that they actually need to think about. If they do it in a way that signals what their brand is all about, he believes long term they can be in a great place. These are great opportunities to send a strong message about what your brand stands for. That’s certainly how The Hundred will go about thinking about it next year. If social distancing is down to one meter, they are just going to have to make that work. But the number one thing for them is public safety. And then creativity, reimagining the experience and making sure when people come, they’re like, wow I had a great time.

Aliya added that when Sanjay said cinematic, automatically in her head she thought back to drive in movies. We now live in a world where we’re watching all of our content on iPads and televisions. But what about the art of an outdoor movie? We used to do it as kids. You sit with your family on a picnic blanket and you’re together, but you’re separate. And that aspect of nostalgia, she hopes that creatives and people, as they start to solve through all of this forward-thinking technology is so valuable and important. But there’s something about the nostalgic thread that often brings things home in an interesting way. She thinks the fusion of the past and the present is a compelling way for us as a collective to address this.

Sanjay believes that there is something around this Covid experience that has brought out that nostalgia, where people have been separated from their families for a period of time. People have been working at home with more time on their hands. Potentially, people are facing such sadness around them in terms of potential life lost and he thinks what that does is it makes people think really hard about what’s important to them and that sense of nostalgia does come back. So, again, just thinking about how do brands actually tap into that, it is an interesting thought.

When asked about the economics of not being able to fill stadiums, Sanjay said that they are in a relative position of strength because they have got strong broadcast contracts, strong sponsorship contracts which allow them the investment levels to actually think about how you reimagine stadia. He added that he can imagine for lower leagues, that is going to be a real challenge as they are heavily reliant on that match day income. For example, if we go into this year’s football, rugby or any other sport season and there’s one-meter restrictions in place, that is 40 percent of the stadia, the economics don’t stack up. Sanjay believes at that point; some sports are going to face serious financial crisis. That’s something that, a) the government is going to have to think through and b) the sporting bodies that are in charge of those sports are really going to have to think through. How do they get themselves through that period, if they rely on match day income?

John Timms explained that it’s going to be an interesting challenge, not just for professional basketball clubs in the BBL, but for all sports out there, they’re looking at trying to re-establish their seasons and get supporters backing venues. It’s one of the things that’s a lifeline for most professional sports clubs and amateur clubs as well. So, he is really looking into it and following all the advice. He explained that Sheffield Sharks are definitely monitoring what other countries are doing and looking for good practice and they would look to adopt elements of that. Their key thing is they are expecting lower attendance figures because of restrictions on venue capacity that might be put in place. So, they are preparing for that. They’re looking at platforms where their games can go more on a pay per view platform. Currently, all the games are available free to air. But that might move on to pay per view platform to try and maintain income streams coming into clubs to be able to keep paying players and keep the club operational moving forward.

He explained that they are expecting there to be some reluctance to attend mass gatherings, just generally in the world going forward, sports fixtures obviously would be one of those elements. Coming to a Shark’s basketball game, it’s going to be really important that they build confidence that it’s safe to come into venues. They are anticipating a drop and John thinks that a lot will depend on when the seasons restarts, how much confidence is rebuilt, and restrictions on their own capacity. Arguably, they might have 100 percent capacity because they have only got X number of seats available in the venue from a safety perspective. So, he believes that supporters will pay to watch their teams, but it’ll be about a financial and costed model that makes it worthwhile for everybody to do. So, there’s going to be more thought process into that. But at the moment, they need to build on and follow the advice of working towards the numbers that they can get.

Sanjay explained that the use of crowd noise on TV coverage is something that they have actually been using on their cricket, which he thinks helps the viewing change. The other thing that they have been doing is looking at working with Sky on different camera angles. Generally, camera angles always pan out onto the crowds, for example and they have taken a lot of those camera angles out because that’s actually not a great shot anymore. It’s not a great picture. So, they have revised the way that they look at, or Sky have advised, the way they look at shooting the game and then with the introduction of sounds and so on, hopefully that helps the viewing experience. That translates all the way into the digital world. He said that they normally just do short format clips, another thing they have been thinking about, how do they look for the viewer. So, it looks as normal as it possibly can, pre-covid with stadia. Sanjay believes that that’s probably the only way that you can really try and keep the element of tribalism, because as we all know, sport is reliant on atmosphere, reliant on crowds, it’s reliant on passion. Those are the things that you can’t and don’t get when you don’t have people in stadia.

Aliya explained that Washington, D.C had re-opened restaurants. She said there’s something amazing about the buzz of conversation. Even if your tables are six or eight feet apart, just hearing the aura and the bubble around you is pretty amazing. You don’t know that you missed it till you have it again. But she thinks it’s going to be about capitalising on the energy piece and find ways to compress the energy. So, when you do come into a place, even if you aren’t right up against someone, can you do things with sound? Can you do things with proximity, with visuals? Can you layer people? She said she has been talking a lot about screens. There are screens that say, don’t come near me and there are screens that really feel designed and calibrated so it’s this is my VIP pocket. She told a story of restaurateur in Amsterdam who was testing this concept where everybody sits in a glass box and that’s your glass box for the evening, you have your meal, and they serve your dinner on a beautiful charcuterie board. But the point of all of that is how do you deliver individual experiences that are so individual that they really impact you in a sensory way close up. But you’re also thriving off the adjacencies of other people. She also told us about how in The New York Post, there was a piece about people doing yoga in individual bubbles, but the bubbles were all together. So, your individual space was your own, but you are still part of a tribe or a community. She believes that whether it’s sports or whether it’s hospitality or meetings or, even shopping, if you can be made to feel like you’re part of a community, even if you physically, technically aren’t, there’s something to be said for that.

George added, something he loves about living in Amsterdam is that the Dutch are very innovative. They really take every opportunity to try something different. For example, there is an 18th century concert hall that has been turned into an events venue and there’s a restaurant in the front, but the restaurant in the front of the building is quite small, so it doesn’t allow for the distancing that needs to take place. Since they can’t have these big events right now, they turned the main hall into a restaurant, and they set these tables up in the space with all the distancing that’s required. They serve a predetermined eight course, gourmet, Michelin star meal inside a space with the most unbelievable audio-visual presentation you can imagine. They give you a menu of each theme that the course is based around and you sit down. What the circumstances are creating is a tremendous amount of creativity and new ways of approaching experience. George explained how this was absolutely one of the most memorable meals he has had in a long time, both for the quality of the food, but also this immersive, very emotive, exciting experience. And you felt like connected to this whole room of people at the same time feeling very safe.

Aliya added that that’s genius because now there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to want to try it. You’re going to find a way in your head to be safe about all of it and get over certain considerations you might have just to go and experience this. That’s really clever. It’s something about compressed timelines and compressed energy that Aliya thinks makes people a little bolder and a little bit braver.

George believes that people are at their most creative when they have the most constraints. He thinks that what’s happening is if you do it right, it doesn’t diminish the experience. If you do it right, it actually elevates the experience. Ordinary people can feel very VIP because now all of a sudden, they have this personal one on one attention. They have their own private space. They have things that normally you’d have to pay a lot of money for.

Aliya gave the analogyof back in the history of civilization and cultures and architecture, there was this notion that existed in many parts of the world of a harem. By having a harem and having the architectural partitions that were often beautifully detailed, you were framing points of view. So, what you’re doing is you’re not saying, ‘hey, all of you, please come mingle and connect and socialize’. We’re going to put these deliberately designed interventions between you. It’s not going to stop you from socializing. It’s going to make you a little bit cleverer about how you do it. The way you frame the points of view become super thoughtful because you’re really thinking about those little windows and what you’re looking through, seeing, hearing and smelling. So, it’s a very basic example, but Aliya thinks if you can activate anticipation through design or through thoughtfulness, there’s some basic human instinct that we need to find or trigger to create that anticipation that people will want to go further.

James Ralley explained thatwithout the Wimbledon tennis championships running, it was obviously a huge challenge for them to ensure that they maintained a degree of relevance and they felt that that was really important for them to do rather than just doing nothing at all. The announcement was made on terms of cancelation in April and collectively as the team and also working with IBM, their partners, across digital world, they worked in a very agile way and created the concept of what they are calling ‘Wimbledon recreated and the greatest championships’. What that entailed was that they felt it was really important to try to engage with fans and ask them to participate within a campaign. So, they have seen huge amounts of people creating their own films, lots of user generated content around their memories of Wimbledon, both from just watching far away, but also actually attending as well. There’s been a huge collection of those films coming through. In fact, James said they been overwhelmed by the numbers that they have seen. And then just to support that, across the fortnight itself, they created this concept of the greatest championships. They collected their ‘tennis boffins’ and selected their favourite matches played on each day of the tournament. So, their favourite matches from day one, day two, etc, going through the tournament and ultimately choosing what they see is that those greatest matches that have ever been played. That was live on wimbledon.com as well as across all of their social media channels. In many ways, they followed the greatest championships like it was a live event. So, it was a similar operation, but ultimately using their archived content. James added that what they like to think they have done is use that archive in a slightly more creative way than just sending it out. He thinks that what made it equally more powerful really is that they have great relationships with their key broadcast partners, the BBC in the U.K., ESPN in the US, beIN Sports around France and the Middle East, etc. They took the concepts to them and the U.K., the BBC had featured Wimbledon programming both in the day and at night, celebrating great matches that have been played in a similar way to how they had done that. So, it was a really joined up approach. They didn’t see anywhere near the numbers that they would get during a typical Wimbledon fortnight, but considering there wasn’t a tournament, the engagement levels were pretty good.

James also added that they had the concept of the Wimbledon Wish, which fell out of what they were trying to do when the cancelation was made. They wanted show real humility, because at the end of the day whilst they were all incredibly sad about having to cancel the championships, there were so many things happening in the world that were far more important, and they wanted to embrace that. He explained that they had lots of content that they had created around the heroes for the NHS. Roger Federer voiced over a film that they did and that went out pretty soon after the cancelation. Then they also created the Wimbledon Wish concept where they asked people to send in their wishes of what Wimbledon could do for them as fans. He thinks that what helped them was to break down some of the perceptions of Wimbledon being, effectively, slightly elitist. So, it tried to show that they are a lot more open, much more accessible. The numbers of wishes that they had outstripped any other promotions that James had ever been involved in and a lot of ticket requests, as you could imagine, but also some pretty interesting stuff as well. They also created a mobile game, it had a retro feel and so fitted with the archive focus that they had with the greatest championships. What they were trying to do within that as well was to generate sign up to their CRM tool, My Wimbledon and sign-ups were really good.

George thought that James had something very interesting to say about creativity. Looking at new ways of handling a very traditional, very aspirational event. Wimbledon is kind of like a luxury sport. It’s a very elite high level, highbrow moment in the world of sports. He believes that Covid is accelerating this accessibility aspect. So, it’s not only transforming behaviour, but it’s also transforming what consumers consider aspirational. George thinks the world of luxury in particular is being completely shaken up by what is happening in terms of, going back to what Sanjay mentioned, a recalibration of what’s important in life and looking at what is it that you really want and what is it that’s really aspirational. James mentioned that the Wimbledon Wish activation was creating more accessibility to people and that Wimbledon isn’t this far removed, difficult thing to attend, it can be part of everybody’s lives.

Charlotte Williams explained that Cannes Lions were trying to be something a little bit different. She said they realised that people spend all their working day at the moment on Zoom calls and what they wanted to do was create a virtual event that didn’t look like a ‘Zoom fest’. That’s how they tried to create that strong emotional connection with their audience. So, some of what they produced with their partners, content collaborators, were really visually interesting short films and Netflix quality documentaries on creativity. Being Cannes Lions, they had the benefit of working with some of the most creative companies in the world. They didn’t just want to have talking heads to camera, they wanted really visually beautiful films that people were going to take time out to watch and engage with. She said that had really paid off in the results that they saw. They saw really strong engagement. People viewing content for a really high amount of time and people coming back to view more video every day because they were publishing new videos every day.

Charlotte added that they made the decision to make the content available for anyone quite quickly. She said they felt that it was a real opportunity for Cannes Lions to reach their global audience and allow people to experience the festival when previously it can be quite cost prohibitive. It’s very expensive to fly to Cannes and be put up in a hotel in Cannes, so what they wanted to do was use this opportunity to really engage an audience who perhaps they might not engage with, the younger audience, a really global audience. They had people sign up from 140 countries from around the world. Obviously, they were able to capture their data without charging them a penny. She believes it showed them what the Lion’s brand is about, perhaps changing some perceptions as to what Cannes Lions is about and also got them to experience their products.

George then explained that it comes back to accessibility. The Cannes Lions event is a very exclusive event, and here, it’s this democratization of these aspirational events to moments. He thinks that Covid has really accelerated that as a trend that was happening within this kind of world. And now it’s accelerated even further. He believes the wonderful thing is that it’s opening up entirely new markets maybe that they could not normally have reached. For these events, they’re creating awareness among people who would normally not even be aware of what Cannes Lions is, or even Wimbledon, for that matter. Young people nowadays don’t have those kinds of context anymore. So, Covid has helped reach a much broader audience because of the digital platforms and in turn, those events that would normally not reach those people have been able to expand their audience for the future.

Sanjay believes that all the responsibility of making sure everyone is safe and behaving lies on the ones organising events. He thinks it’s really important as well that whatever the event is, people follow those guidelines because at the end of the day, they have to be seen as a responsible event. The government needs to be comfortable that they can put on these events and public safety is still their number one outcome. So, the responsibility lies with them. There are things you can do to control things like crowd flow and crowd movement, simple things around making sure that you’ve got enough stewards and you’ve got enough people to manage the event is really important. And communication to people coming into the ground, you can’t expect people to turn up and then automatically know what to do. You’ve got to be communicating those things before they get to the ground when they’re in the ground, and then you’ve got help guide them through at the end of the day, that is in itself is quite a logistical operation that is required but will be absolutely essential for sports coming back on.

Aliya thinks that it’s also how you do it. We could stand here and be like, ‘be safe wear a mask, step aside’, do all of this stuff, there’s something around tone of voice. She explained how the W Hotels, food and beverage team pulled together a series of guidelines and one little thing that stayed with her, when you come to one of their places, once you sit down, they give you a little bag for you to put your mask in to. So, they’re saying, ‘please wear a mask as you go through the space once you sit down and you can take it off, let me give you this thing, I’ve thought about this for you so that you’re not leaving your mask on the table and it’s getting dirty. I’m offering you an opportunity for this or when I present you with the cheque, let me give you a Purell wipe. Let me just add that extra layering’. It’s the thoughtfulness with which they do it. And the thoughtfulness doesn’t cost money. It’s just thought. She told a story of how she went to dinner and as she was entering the restaurant and was sitting on a courtyard, the maître’s came up said, ‘thank you so much for wearing your mask til you sit down at the table’, not ‘put your masks on and please don’t take them off’. It’s a positive reinforcement. And now more than ever, up until this point, she admitted that she was certainly guilty of this between firing off e-mails, texts and WhatsApp. Just go, go, go. Got to get it done. You forget the art of the tone of voice and how you communicate things and how you request things and how even when you have to have maybe less than comfortable conversations, you can navigate all of that with the choice of words that you use or even body language. She believes that’s going to be an interesting part of how we turn some of this corner, particularly in societies where unfortunately they still think that this is a hoax, and they don’t want to wear a mask. Like, how do you use the power of persuasion, the art of language, body language, thoughtfulness, sequencing, all of these things to get people on the bus? That’s going to be an interesting moment to navigate.

George agreed. He believes that what Aliya said was incredibly powerful. Especially in the world of retail. There should be an invitation, not a demand, and it’s a big difference. They say you can attract more flies with honey than with other things. So, he thinks that what Aliya said about being kind and using psychology with positive reinforcement will help transform these events. For example, Amsterdam had a huge Black Lives Matter protest. 5000 people showed up at the square, all wearing masks, all standing apart. There were hardly any police. This sense of society also is extremely important that you are a collective and that you’re all in it together. He said what was interesting about the protests in Amsterdam was that they did not become violent. They did not require tremendous amount of police. Everyone protested. It was incredibly powerful. Everyone was heard, but everyone understood that they were a collective and that they didn’t want the infection rate to skyrocket. So, everyone showed up with their masks. Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do. They made themselves known about this horrible thing that’s happening in terms of rights. And they all left. And it was a very positive experience overall. So, the psychology of all of this is incredibly important.

Sanjay agreed and said that its part of your brand, part of your experience, part of what you’re offering. He thinks what we’ve seen up until now is the fear factor; ‘You must do this. Otherwise you are in danger’. He believes that we’ll see now events, brands, etc, are just going to have to think about how they message in a much more positive, open, friendly, encouraging way rather than in a way that strikes fear.

George talked about the power of connecting customers to brands and brought up the example of the W Hotels again and how the thoughtfulness of something as small as a wipe with your ticket, could make a customer feel so safe and want to return. He said it feels as if they are already taking into consideration the fears and the issues you have of a customer being there to begin with. And so, it makes you feel even more comfortable.

George mentioned that in particular, the world of beauty is very much on the pulse of consumer behaviour. He gave a few examples that really are showing how this combination or this fluidity between the virtual and the real world, how easily they flow together and the brands that are navigating that are the ones that are really creating success for themselves. In particular, Nyx, part of the L’Oreal group, they like to position themselves as a youthful Mac cosmetic brand and they are looking at their brand as entertainment in terms of their position. So, George thought that was a really fascinating way of looking at how do you create this community around a brand using things like Netflix, for example. Nyx sponsored Sabrina Teenage Witch and used that program to create a whole world around their brand. Emphasising the digital aspect versus the in-store aspect and how that translated over into the IRL experience. Another great example of that type of mentality are the brands that are digital natives. Patrick Starrr, who’s a social media beauty celebrity, just launched a new cosmetic brand called One Size that is really about complete inclusivity. He’s a gender fluid individual who transforms himself into this very beautiful person that is neither male nor female. He has a huge following online, many millions of followers who look at his beauty tips and how to apply and become a much more attractive individual. He’s launching his brand in Sephora. He has a very high digital presence that can reach a very broad audience. But then you can also go into a physical space like Sephora and purchase if you’d like. Sephora also has a huge online community as well. So, this fluidity between the brick and mortar and the digital is a trend that was happening prior to Covid and now has been accelerated dramatically, in particular in the world of beauty. Other brands like McDonald’s as well, going to complete contactless payment, being able to order food through your mobile device before you go into the store and just picking and picking it up there or having it home delivered. The world of these digital communities, that flow between real life and virtual life, are becoming more prevalent. The gaming communities in particular are creating these entire events. Travis Scott is a rapper, and he launched his album in Fortnite as an as an avatar, for example, he had 23 million people, quote-on-quote, attending his concert event on Fortnite.

So, those are the kinds of things that we’re going to be seeing more in the future. Maybe even potentially sports games will be played in these virtual realms. But then at the same time, we’re also linking back to the physical world. So that fluidity is the trend for the future. It’s not really omni channel at all anymore. It’s about consumer channel, the digital natives in particular are incredibly fluid between virtual and in real life. They move between the two as if they’re the same thing. That that is the biggest difference now, post Covid, is that there’s more people who are accustomed now to dealing with that fluidity between those two worlds.

Charlotte said that they have learned a lot this year. She explained that they talk to their customers all the time about what the shape of the festival should be. They worked very closely with their community. In terms of what the festival would look like next year, Charlotte believes that there are still question marks around the shape of the festival and what the laws will be and what the recommendations will be for next year. But they will work closely with the French authorities and, of course, anyone else they need to listen to, to ensure a safe festival. She thinks you can expect the usual stages for Cannes Lions. Whether that means they have to take people out of the theatres and move them back in to adhere to any sort of health and safety regulations, they’ll do that. But you can still expect the same magic that you would always get from the festival. The same the same high-profile speakers and creative agencies from all around the world. They will still be bringing those together.

James explained that for Wimbledon, there’s a huge amount of planning now. They don’t want to sound flippant and they are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst, having to be very agile because this is changing literally all of the time. But there’ll be scenarios put in place around what does a Wimbledon look like with reduced capacity. They have looked at two meters now they’re looking at one meter as well and what kind of impact that’s going to have on capacity. But if the worst was the worst, what is it behind closed doors? These are all things that they are having to plan for and look at. Because if they didn’t, they would have been pretty irresponsible. But of course, others say they are hoping for the best and hope to be able to deliver a Wimbledon as close to the one that we all know and love.

Sanjay explained how The Hundred has already started future proofing, and they have managed to get cricket back on. It’s in a behind closed doors, complete bio secure environment. So, from all the way in terms of making sure that you’ve got all your players, all your staff, everything completely quarantined for a period of time and then playing the game and then testing and all those things. So, they are well on their way to making sure that they can survive post Covid if restrictions aren’t lifted, but they are anticipating the restrictions will be lifted. And then it’s about thinking how they get fans back in stadia in ways that we spoke about earlier and then hopefully at some stage get back to the normal. But again, there’s not going to be a normal for them because they are going to think about how they reimagine, recreate and thinking about their customer experience. So, when people come back to cricket and when people attend The Hundred for the first time, it’s something that they will thoroughly enjoy.

Sanjay added that he thinks sport will reset because the inevitable impact of Covid is going to be a significant loss of revenue. When you have a significant loss of revenue, you have to rethink your business model and you have to rethink your cost base. And again, there’ll be sports that do that in different ways. He thinks that the simple way to do that is simply cut costs and go to the lowest common denominator. But actually, what you probably need to do is do both cut costs and also then think about how you generally get creative. Think about innovation in your sport. Think about new ways to make money. The sports that will come out of this crisis in a better way are the sports that will take those proactive approaches and not simply just go down the cost cutting exercise.

Aliya asked if weall remember the time before you could travel when you didn’t have to take your shoes off, when you didn’t have X amount of liquids? She thinks the thing that we as a collective have to remember is human beings adapt much faster than we give them credit for. You put a few rules into place. You create a template. You create a pattern. You go into any airport in the world now and you’ll see people taking off their shoes, pulling out their laptops and it’s happening pretty seamlessly. So, when you think about that, she thinks as a collective, we obviously have to continue to find ways to make people feel safe. But this is our opportunity to also try new things, what are those things that we’re going to do in guestrooms that maybe we didn’t need before? What are those approaches or tactics? Maybe it’s less about clutter and less objects in a room. Maybe it’s cleaner, brighter, more timeless surfaces. It’s how we work in public areas, how we get a coffee or a cocktail. Aliya believes that we as a collective have a little bit of work to do right now, but she has faith that if you find ways to build memory and stimulate the senses, we’ll be able to get everyone along for the ride as long as they feel safe.

George believes that what we’re looking at is Covid has been an impetus. It’s been the trigger that has created or accelerated these new behaviours, a lot of the behaviours that we’re seeing are being enforced by this pandemic because of this issue of infection. But once that’s gone, we’re going to end up with a bunch of people who are now completely used to doing things in a different way; much more digitally savvy in terms of a larger population base, using experiences that they’ve never used for the different type of digital worlds that are being created around these brands and these different types of experiences. It’s going to definitely leave a mark in terms of pushing the world closer towards what the future vision would have been. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of businesses that are suffering, hugely financially, some of them maybe were around a little bit longer than they needed to be. George thinks that Covid has accelerated that transformation of the landscape. It’s painful. Transformations always are. But in the end, we’re going to come out hopefully with a much more positive world. People who are much more democracy in terms of the sense of accessibility to things that used to be quite elite, now, more accessible and easier to get to. He emphasised that we also can’t forget this is not going to be around forever, that it’s creating and initiating a lot of change more quickly than we had anticipated.

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