Can you believe it’s been a year already? A year since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020 – but still couple of weeks away from when South Africans bought a few more bottles of vino to get us through our 21-day lockdown. Honestly, we had no clue what was coming.
This week, Fortune.com took a look at 15 ways life has changed since the onset of the COVID pandemic; how quickly the quirky turned mundane (yoga pants on a Zoom call!) and how temporary fixes (work-from-home!) morphed into lasting changes that have altered our world forever.
Some of the changes have been obvious, including how we work, learn, shop, chill out (Netflix!) and work out. Others (like a distorted sense of time, and let’s be honest, TikTok) have surprised us.
Importantly, we have a renewed gratitude for essential workers, a renewed relationship with nature; and with COVID-19 PTSD a very real thing, mental health discussions are (hopefully) out in the open.
A year on and one in three travel destinations are still fully closed to international tourists. We’re still feeling rattled and unsettled and it’s affecting our ability to sleep, work, create and concentrate.
The Guardian has a great article on “Writer’s Blockdown” – or what happens when you’re completely and utterly screen-fatigued, and still trying find a small spark of imagination or creativity while your brain is “tied up with processing, processing, processing what’s going on in the world.” Whew, it’s a big ask.
And so my thoughts turned this week to how our team has survived a year of crisis comms; creating travel content in a world without travel (where 50,000 tourism businesses in South Africa have had to temporarily or permanently shut their doors); long hours; and strategising over Zoom (or Teams) without that in-person, face-to-face contact which we love so much – and which is crucial for generating new ideas.
But we have survived, which in itself is reason to celebrate. And yes, it’s taken a fair amount of tears, pineapple beer and lo-fi music to get us through, but here we are. And my favourite moment of the last week? Colleague Jenna Berndt’s celebration of women in tourism for International Women’s Day – and Dorine Reinstein’s call to “focus on challenging the status quo and rebuilding a stronger and more sustainable tourism industry for all.”
As Media First points out, March has been a bumper month for crisis comms case studies. From Harry and Meghan (who would want to be part of the royal family PR team right now, eh?) to Piers Morgan and Burger King, there’s been plenty to get the internet hot under the collar.
Burger King got itself in a right pickle this week when it’s International Women’s Day campaign backfired. “As blunders go, it was a whopper.”
The day started with a print ad for Burger King’s H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship, which offers financial assistance to women who work at Burger King and aspire to a career in the ‘culinary arts’. The print ad used a sexist trope as a headline – before turning it on its head in the body copy. Not particularly clever, but not offensive either.
The same campaign was then put on social media, where it unravelled spectacularly. The creative simply didn’t work on Twitter. The context was lost – and the mechanics of Twitter itself meant that most of their audience saw the initial tweet first, with the thread being lost in the fallout.
But what should Burger King have done? Firstly, the creative was a real issue. Print ads don’t translate to social media and put simply, they should have put the whole sentiment all in one tweet.
Failing that, they should have responded quicker; admitted the failings of the campaign straight away; deleted the tweet before the thread was taken over by sexist, bullying posts; and refocused on their scholarship as soon as possible.
It was a harsh lesson in how quickly things can go wrong, how responsive you need to be – and how social media demands its own (and often very different) creative executions.
What the world was musing over this past week:
Pizza toppings get controversial
Burger King and Hazza and Meg weren’t the only ones to divide the internet this week. Jamie Oliver dared to pop grapes on his sausage pizza – leaving traditionalists absolutely horrified. And you thought pineapple was polarising.
Ship seen ‘floating in the sky’ due to optical illusion
A Cornish rambler was lucky to spot a cruise liner floating above the surface of the sea this week, thanks to a phenomenon known as a ‘superior mirage’. You have to see it to believe it!
Google’s doodle is pandemic-ready
A hundred years after Chinese-Malaysian epidemiologist Dr Wu Lien-the created the surgical face mask – Google remembers the man who helped eradicate the Manchurian plague. Google often turns its spotlight on heroes of the medical community, and it’s a fascinating peek into the man behind the mask.
Kids design offices of the future
Thanks to COVID, the traditional office is a thing of the past. Hot-spotting, hybrid models and WFH are all in our future. But what if kids had a say in the office of the future? I guarantee you it would be a lot more fun!
Could deepfake be the future of content creation?
These Tom Cruise deepfake videos have everyone’s feathers in a fluff. But, scarily, could deepfake be in our future? A few months ago, millions of TV viewers across South Korea were watching the MBN channel to catch the latest news – but it wasn’t real. And the use of AI-generated videos is growing rapidly in sectors including news, entertainment and education, with the technology becoming more and more sophisticated.