by Jim Meskauskas, EVP General Manager, Strategy & Planning

As we noted in our previous installments, there are many challenges stemming from COVID-19 facing people and the brands that surround them. There is both a rapidly evolving redefinition of “the consumer journey” and the role brands can and are playing along that path. Nearly 90% of the US population are under some form of “stay and home” order, and brands are seeking ways to still be a part of their lives. There’s a third constituent in this equation, however: agencies.

We have covered what CARE means to Consumers: Connection, Assurance, Resourcefulness and Empathy. And we have covered what it means to Brands: Convenience, Accessibility, Resilience, and Engagement. What about the perspective of Agencies’ planning? We keep the acronym, but now define what Agencies need to provide.

Agencies need CARE:

Coverage – Under any circumstance, a brand’s success is established first and foremost by its availability to people: physically and mentally. In today’s environment, the definition of the “core audience” is expanding because the message has evolved to reflect the moment and demands a focus on the human condition. Demonstrating CARE through brand’s communication serves to capture share of mind now, and when society moves to “the new normal”, more easily facilitates capturing share of market later.

  • Using their expansive communication footprint, Ford embraced the need to speak to Americans with “Built to Lend a Hand” and “Built for Right Now,” conveying a message of reassurance and support.Built to Lend a Hand

    Built for Right Now

Analyzable – Media should have as much data readability as possible which leads to meaningful insights that translate to useful applications. During this unprecedented learning opportunity, we must always remember that behind these behaviors are real people. People are consuming more media, in what will eventually be a definable window during a unique global condition. Some behaviors will be changed for the duration of this crisis. Some behaviors will be permanently altered. Learning the difference now will be what separates successful companies from unsuccessful ones in the future.


Relevance – Relevance is vital now more than ever. The tripod upon which audience engagement typically swings is composed of attention, interest, and opportunity. Attention is the arresting nature of the message and opportunity is the time to get it in front of someone. Interest is the relevance. And what that is now at this moment in history is a departure from what it was and what it will be. At this time, a better word for what is needed is salience, something that is more meaningful and important in a person’s life. The agency needs to deliver on the proposition of what matters.

  • AT&T recognized the importance of staying connected virtually in this environment.AT&T Business TV Commercial, ‘COVID-19: Anything But Business as Usual’

Exhaustive – agencies must be thorough about considering every option for what and how to deliver the Brand’s message to people. The concept is borrowed from consulting (MECE: mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive). The completely unique nature of what we are living with right now demands we take a fresh and comprehensive look at all methods for communicating with people. Apply zero-based planning methodology. Treat the brand and opportunity to message like it has never existed before, having never been advertised before. Let’s face it, this is like nothing before. The process takes nothing for granted and proceeds from a “zero point,” avoiding prejudices that come from historical assurances that may give us a false sense of how things are, and inadvertently skew strategy towards addressing needs in a market that may have shifted.

  • Chipotle has been hosting daily “Chipotle Together” video conference sessions on Zoom where fans can log in and join chats. (Chipotle and Chill By: Mackenzie Baker Mar 31, 2020 Gartner)Chipotle Together

Agencies and marketing service providers need to apply CARE: Coverage, Analyzability, Relevance, and Exhaustive. By providing those elements, they can deliver on CARE consumers crave: Convenience, Accessibility, Resilience and Engagement.

Navigating these unprecedented circumstances requires a team effort in which marketers can rely on their agency partners to develop communications solutions that demonstrate purpose while delivering CARE. Over the past 7 weeks, it has been reassuring to see daily examples of brand marketers and their agency partners getting CARE right.

As we continue to move down this new path together, know that we at Active CARE and are ready to help our family of current and future clients, media partners and other trading partners achieve your CARE goals.