Lockdown influences changes at creative marketing agency

Jordan Odu

The retail, leisure and food and drink sector have faced plenty of challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. However, how are the businesses which serves these sector fairing?

Prior to the third national Lockdown I sat down with Jordon Odu, director of PR and experiential events agency, Pink Gorilla Hairy Lemon (PGHL) to talk Lockdown and the opportunities it has brought.

“Let’s be clear”, Odu starts our Zoom call, “Lockdown’s been tough, but I think we’ve got to change the way we look at it.

Jordan and his business co-director Deborah De Vittoris

“Yes, it wasn’t in our business plan for 2020, in fact it made us rip it up and go back to the drawing board. However, we’ve been lucky as an agency prior to 2020 we’d grown organically by word of mouth and by delivering for clients, predominantly in the consumer sector. So, everything stopping, the weekly events, all the new openings and experiential activations was terrifying but Deborah [Deborah De Vittoris, Odu’s co-director at PGHL] and I also used it as a natural way to take stock.”

I’ve been fascinated by the number of founders who have used the same phrase of Lockdown providing an opportunity to take stock. From manufacturers such as Daval through to events businesses such as Equinox it seems to be the silver lining on an otherwise very grey cloud.

Odu adds: “As a result of being forced to stop the weekly public and private events we actually had to re-evaluate what we can bring and that’s made us stronger.”

He talks about relaunching PG Promo – the venture which started it all for him 10 years ago. “We were lucky we had a database of people who have engaged with PG Promotions over the years and actually that was seen as a benefit to lots of businesses who were forced to launch new experiences such as cook at home and virtual events. We quickly had to flip the way we promoted clients brands, and now instead of inviting people to venues to try their products and services, instead we are sending products to people’s home and asking them to share their experiences on their social media channels to help spread word of mouth and increase brand awareness.”

He refers to this as a growth in micro-influencers, it’s something marketeers have been watching for a number of years as social media use continued to grow. Odu explains that yes celebrities and influencers with large numbers of followers are still hugely important in strategies but people trust their mates.

“Due to Lockdown, everyday people have now become a vital part of helping promote products and services. As a company we have moved away from just using bloggers with thousands of followers to using what we refer to as micro-influencers – local people who aren’t necessarily ‘famous’ or have lots of followers but naturally influence and have credibility amongst their followers.”

He adds that values and opinion in through lockdown undoubtedly changed people’s behaviour. “Who do you trust and value more, views of friends or someone you just see online? This means for certain products/services, it’s the adage quality over quantity and due to years of networking, we have one of the best networks in the region, so we’re able to tap into ‘micro influencers’ to help businesses get their message out to the right people.”

“We knew actually because of our database, contacts and network we still had the opportunity to help businesses to communicate directly with customers creating mass brand awareness.”

But it’s not just the consumer and influencer marketing that has grown for the business in 2020.

“As a direct result of the situation we’ve actually had more time to think about new business, especially with the PR side of the business. Now don’t get me wrong we always had our ear to the ground before, but because a lot of our work went quiet in the early part of lockdown one we started having discussions potential clients in more corporate sectors such as property and finance.”

But what now, has Lockdown 3 hit as hard as the first?

Rudys Pizza launched a new bake at home range which PGHL has been supporting

“It’s different this time, yes there’s still unknowns but we’ve also been through a few of these [lockdowns] now. Also, you’ve got a ray of hope with the vaccines and all those businesses who adapted first time round now don’t want to miss a step, so the work to promote at home experiences just hasn’t stopped.

“But I’m very much looking forward to getting back to being able to have a meeting over lunch and a drink and to being able to see everyone at our events when eventually can.”

As the call comes to an end it’s clear that Covid-19 has caused some soul searching for Odu, but you get the sense that rather than beat him down it’s simply reinvigorated him and provided the business with an opportunity to once again challenge itself.