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Crazy times change behaviour. Forever.

Chris Botha, Group Managing Director, Park Advertising

We’ve been through 9/11, load shedding and one of the worst droughts our country has ever seen says Chris Botha, Group Managing Director, Park Advertising. Now in the thick of COVID-19, there is more evidence that we will learn, overcome and possibly emerge from this crisis all the better.

So here we are, on what feels like day 7 020 013 of Lockdown. Our country and the world is going through arguably one of the biggest seismic shifts of society (try say that three times fast) we’ve ever faced. And the one thing we can be sure of is that nothing will ever be the same again.

Crazy times have long, far reaching, deep societal impacts. History shows that these are mostly for the better because the result is a change in behaviour. And not just for now, forever. New fears are drummed into our heads, and we respond in a bold manner. New businesses are formed, and old ones die off. It’s the way of the world.

On the 10th of September, 2001 – you could walk up to an airline counter, buy a ticket with no ID, walk straight through to the gate, get on a plane, pop into the cockpit to say hi to the captain, and within reason do what you wanted. Post September 11 the whole world changed. Now we hold fears and precautions we never envisioned of before. We changed our travel behaviour. I would argue that travel today is safer, and better than it ever was before. But how, where and when we travel fundamentally changed since that fateful day.

Remember 2009? Life was hunky dory when without notice the lights went out across the country. South Africans learnt a new term called “load shedding” and it has been a hot topic for the past 11 years and will be for some time to come. The interesting change in behaviour we saw was that we became aware of a finite supply of electricity. In 2019 – South Africans used less electricity than they did in 2009. We learnt how to cope with less. Generators became a standard, and many new businesses and industries popped up.

In Cape Town 2016 a monumental drought changed a province. I don’t have access to any stats, but would imagine that water consumption in 2019 would be drastically lower than what it was in let’s say 2014. Capetonians are now deeply water aware as a result of this crisis.

What does this all mean? Crazy times, change behaviour. Forever.

Now here is the interesting part. What behaviours will change? I suspect we can all look at our individual industries and identify a few.

  1. Will travel ever the same again? How comfortable do you feel with 300 strangers breathing the same air as you for 8 hours or more?
  2. Speaking of travel – how strict will nations become before they let “outsiders” in again? I suspect we will all have to travel with an “all clear” from a recognised doctor to any destination.
  3. Cinemas and restaurants might have to change the experience to accommodate for more cautious customers.
  4. How many people who normally read newspapers and magazines, have “fallen out of the habit” during this lockdown period, and are unlikely to ever pick one up again?
  5. Many businesses have learnt that staff can work from home in a very effective manner. What does that mean for commuter patterns? If there is no more “drive time” what does it mean for Television and Radio audiences? What does it mean for OOH and other road side furniture?
  6. Day time Television – always a powerful medium (even though under rated) might become even stronger. And streaming services like DSTV Now, and Showmax will continue to grow at an exponential rate and take their place in the sun.

The list could carry on for ages. Take your pick. Commercial property will never be the same, neither will hospitals, or how governments operate and I do believe we will see a spike in conservative nationalism.

Time will tell, but for those making business plans for the future, know that all bets are off.

The consumer will be different. The world will be vastly different. That presents a threat and also a massive opportunity. Stay light on your feet, keep adapting and offering value, and the world post COVID-19 might well be your oyster.

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Pockets of opportunity can always be found in adversity

Neo Mtshatsheni, Media Strategist at The MediaShop

Despite the pandemic holding many hostage in their homes, South Africans have continued to find innovative ways to have their voices heard and to show off their skills through, for example, gaming or content creation. From a channel perspective, digital was always going to reap more benefit from this audience and the lockdown period has certainly affirmed this especially in the eSports category and on social media.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook Live have certainly proved their worth over the past few months. Moving away from posting images of themselves enjoying a meal at the coolest, trendiest restaurant or spotting their latest pair of jeans, sneakers or sunglasses, South Africa’s youth have used these platforms to engage on issues ranging from racism, GBV, etc.

IGTV (Instagram TV) saw its first Instavella created by Ayanda Mkayi which depicts the lives of individuals living in an apartment block in Johannesburg during the national lockdown, with all scenes shot individually from the actors’ homes. Shooting ads and general TV production during lockdown was prohibited and now despite the extensive safety measures that are put in place, production still falls victim to the invisible COVID-19 enemy halting production. But fresh, relatable content remains key and as there is a growing need for local content, IGTV soapies are something to look out for!

On the eSports front, South Africa may not compare to its global counterparts in terms of the sheer size of active gamers but the interest and gaming community numbers are increasing steadily and will continue to do so. For every mobile device in hand lies a gamer and current stats show that 71% of connected South Africans play games exclusively from their mobile device. And for a category that is usually perceived to be predominantly male, 63% of them are women aged 30 and 50% of them are older than 34yrs and are using the platform as a means to escape their everyday lives. There are also many that play competitively against their male counterparts.

Console owners also provide a sizable opportunity for marketers with 53.8% of households having children that go to school, 39% are 35-49yrs and 25% are 24-34yrs. This audience might have a male skew but paired with the mobile universe it most certainly delivers numbers and diversity.

Most importantly, right now in South Africa mobile gaming is probably also the easiest way to buy media and get your brand in front of eyes. The growth in this category has been exponential compared to general entertainment, the global e-sports industry has been growing at a rate of 30% YOY and the PC gaming market is set to be worth 45.5 billion USD (788.1 billion ZAR) in 2021! The global box office which generated revenue to the tune of 41.7 billion USD (722.2 billion ZAR) in 2008 and the gaming market generated 151.2 billion USD (2.6 trillion ZAR). With fewer eyeballs available for live sports and more time indoors this category is certainly one that cannot be ignored.

As marketers, the ever-changing landscape and demographic we are constantly challenged to not only look for meaningful insights but re-evaluating the norm as the bar continues to be set high and the only constant throughout being change.

Masks, sanitisers and Zoom – local team takes TV ad production to a new level

What did it take to shoot a TV ad during South Africa’s lockdown? Over 75 hours of Zoom meetings, 48 Skype casting calls and four remote callbacks, six hours of online cast rehearsals, five virtual location reccies, over 1500 WhatsApp messages, 200 emails, hundreds of phone calls, and a very unusual kind of shoot day.  

All this to bring the new A.Vogel Echinaforce TV commercial to screens in time for winter and generate much needed income for over 35 people, mostly freelance professionals whose earnings would be among those hardest hit by the lockdown.

Initially as commercial director Dani Hynes raced home from Dubai ahead of the 27 March lockdown date, she assumed her next production, the Echinaforce TV ad, would be cancelled. Agency A Country for Jane and their client, SA Natural Products, were thinking the same thing.

But as lockdown commenced, a story of determination and ingenuity started up in the lounges, kitchens and even bedrooms of the team tasked with making this advert.

Hynes explains: “We’d been looking forward to making the advert as the product has some great new clinical evidence to share and the creative concept was beautiful and very different to normal cold and flu adverts. When lockdown was announced it initially seemed impossible. But then, Echinaforce is an immune support product, and right now immune health is everyone’s priority, so getting this ad out became something of a personal challenge and mission for all of us.”

With the natural order of work severely disrupted, and Levels 5 and 4 lockdown regulations prohibiting TV shoots, a monumental behind-the-scenes effort to prepare for an uncertain shoot day got underway. What was normally due process, became constant improvisation.

Team members, used to working closely together, had to now consult over Zoom. Production, used to working with reliable suppliers, now found them unavailable. This necessitated a complete rethink around props, costumes and location reccies.

“The script called for a florist shop, where Shaleen Surtie-Richards personifies the Echinaforce brand with her warm and nurturing performance. She’s way more than your average florist, offering nature’s healing support to worried customers who need help,” says Ursula Mcdonald, A Country for Jane MD. “It’s there, as she arranges echinacea bouquets in that enchanting setting, that the benefits of Echinaforce come to life. And that’s where our challenges began. We needed just the right location to create that special shop. Yet we couldn’t even leave our homes to scout for potential locations.”

“The location reccies were unique,” explains Hynes. “We had to request photos and videos from possible locations or have the owners ‘walk us’ around the properties using FaceTime. Not being able to visit the sites, see how the light comes in or get a proper feel for the space was challenging. In the end we were only granted physical access to the location the day before the shoot.”

Hynes continues: “Another challenge was the fact that we needed a lot of Echinacea purpurea flowers. Knowing they wouldn’t be in bloom in autumn, we’d originally planned to create them from silk. Now our silk couldn’t be flown into the country and we were out of time. The only option left was to digitally create them in postproduction.”

The wardrobe team and cast had their ‘new normal’ work cut out for them too. Without access to online shopping just sourcing shoes and accessories for the cast was a logistical feat. Actors, normally used to interacting with each other in lively script reads, had to learn the art of auditioning and rehearsing over Skype or Zoom with only the director to interact with.

While permission was finally obtained to shoot towards the end of Level 4, only a limited number of crew, donning masks and adhering to regular temperature checks and hygiene protocols, could attend the physical shoot. This left the client and agency team behind computer screens approving the footage remotely.

Locked down in Durban, the Echinaforce marketing team had to watch the live action in Johannesburg over their computers. “Normally you’re at the shoot, you meet the cast and you can give immediate input and direction on your brand. Now we were trying to watch takes via a dodgy YouTube Live link, while liaising with the agency and director over WhatsApp,” says marketing director Estie Schreiber. “Not seeing the cast’s performances live or knowing what Dani was aiming for in the moment was difficult.  Eventually we were approving takes via WhatsApp clips. How they pulled this off and delivered such a beautiful production is testimony to this whole team’s remarkable tenacity and professionalism.”

After seven weeks of fielding numerous logistical lockdown curve balls and the delayed shoot date leaving just three days for post-production and final approvals, the Echinaforce TVC material was ready and delivered to stations on deadline. And over WhatsApp, the teams celebrated a ‘new normal’ success story in very abnormal times!

Contact:                      A Country for Jane

                                    Pippa Capstick

                                    pippa@countryforjane.com

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Good Things Guy joins panel on how to energise South Africa

South Africa’s Good Things Guy, Brent Lindeque is joining fellow panellists Happy MaKhumalo (Proudly South Africa), Jaun Pienaar (Apex Media) and Nwabisa Makunga (The Sowetan) on the topic of ‘Energising our biggest brand – South Africa’ on the 9th July at 10am.

“Even though South Africa has its challenges, we have so many good stories to tell,” says Brent. “Over the past few months while we’ve been experiencing a global pandemic, the search for good news has increased exponentially. People want and I firmly believe, NEED, good news! There are so many stories to share that demonstrate that we as South Africans are more generous, more caring and more willing to assist people we’ve never even met before.

These are just some of the reasons that I believe that brand South Africa does have a good story to tell and we need to be telling it now.

This is a crucial conversation to have – despite the many challenges we face as a country on a daily basis. When we open our borders to tourists again, our guests need to feel welcome, excited to experience our diverse culture and importantly, want to return as soon as possible.”

Interested parties can register for the discussion here at no charge: https://arenaevents.africa/webinar-registrations/the-future-of-media-digitized-event-series-energising-our-biggest-brand-south-africa/

The Good Things Guy can also be found at www.goodthingsguy.com, on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Prepared on behalf of:                  Good Things Guy

Brent Lindeque

info@goodthingsguy.com

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Facebook have just lost R120 billion! By Richard Lord, Media & Operations Director, Meta Media

Advertisers are taking a stand against Facebook’s stance on hate speech and it is causing the share price to nosedive (8% down on Friday 26 June).

Since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minnesota police in May 2020, the world has been taking a very deep, introspective look at itself. Many companies are owning up to systemic racism and consumers are starting to hold companies, celebrities, and individuals to account for the things that they do and say.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement one of the things that has really come to the fore is the argument about free speech vs. hate speech. Our view is that hate speech of any kind can simply not be tolerated. To make anybody feel less than they should be because of our words is simply abhorrent. To belittle people, or discriminate against them because they are different is not acceptable. It is globally felt that social media platforms have been complicit in giving airtime to hate speech, veiled behind the curtain of freedom of speech and a stance against the censorship of content. Whilst there is some merit in this, freedom of speech cannot ever be used to cover hate speech. But the world is now taking a stand.

Some social media platforms are listening. Twitter has taken on Donald Trump, labelling some of his tweets as a violation of their rules about abusive behaviour, or putting fact checking labels on some of his more outrageous statements. Snapchat has stopped promoting Donald Trump’s account meaning it will no longer be discoverable. Snapchat said that it would not “amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice”.

Facebook on the other hand has been very reticent to follow suit. This has led to an internal staff revolt1 against Mark Zuckerberg, and more recently an initiative led by civil rights activists in the US to encourage advertisers to boycott the platform until reforms to Facebook’s policies are made. They say Facebook has failed in a number of ways: by allowing posts that incite violence against #BLM protestors, for not removing holocaust denial content, by making right-wing website Breitbart a trusted news source, and for allowing the platform to be used to suppress voting because of fake news.

The initiative is gaining traction with some notably big global brands backing the boycott. So far, we have seen Coca-Cola, Diageo, Honda America, Levi Strauss, The North Face, Patagonia, Starbucks, Unilever, and Verizon all lending their support to this growing boycott. All in all, over 100 advertisers have joined the campaign.

But will it make a difference?

Facebook has over 8 million advertisers. The vast majority of them are small, local businesses. Big advertisers only make up a small percentage of Facebook’s total ad revenue, and whilst it is admirable that these 100 advertisers are taking a stand for what is right, their spend however, is just a drop in the big blue Facebook ocean. Also, the majority of these brands are only “pausing” their advertising in the US. In my humble opinion, if they really wanted to make a statement, they should support the boycott on a global level – that might make more of an impact. Additionally, the boycott, in most instances is only slated for the month of July. But what about after July? Are black lives only important for a month? Is there a shelf-life on hate speech, fake news, and disinformation?

The bigger question is will this actually force Facebook to make changes to their policies on hate speech and racism?

Boycotts of Facebook have come and gone – remember Cambridge Analytica? Advertisers boycotted Facebook then too. Consumers threatened to delete their Facebook accounts in protest. But nobody actually did. Facebook still grew by 2% in the quarter after the scandal broke. The advertisers all came back.

Why? Because Facebook is too valuable a platform to ignore. They are big. They have millions of consumers who spend an inordinate amount of time on the platform. Advertising works. Whilst it is certainly admirable that big business is taking a stand like this, how long will it last? How long before profit trumps (not Donald) principle?

Will Facebook make the changes that everyone is campaigning for? Maybe. But if advertisers only boycott for a month, this will be a small blip on Facebook’s financial statement. The share price will recover. The revenues will return. For what it is worth, Facebook have made some platitudes to advertisers about closing the “trust deficit”2 and Mark Zuckerberg has in recent days made promises3 to do more.

Time will tell if this will an historic moment for change, or simply a small profit warning for shareholders in Q3 of 2020.

  1. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/10/874340002/mark-zuckerberg-faces-revolt-among-facebook-employees
  2. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/24/tech/facebook-trust-deficit/index.html
  3. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/26/tech/facebook-zuckerberg-content-ad-policies/index.html

Stay Curious!

Richard Lord is Media & Operations Director at Meta Media, South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. At Meta Media we don’t just look at the numbers, we dig deeper, we look for the story behind the story. We find the “so what” to give our clients the edge, to provide real solutions based on real insights. We are real, we are authentic. We are curious.

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Podcasts enjoy more success with a familiar name behind them

Podcasts are not new as a medium. But some of these audio on demand files are making huge waves in the industry. Jacaranda’s JacPod series is seeing huge download numbers, with Brent Lindeque’s Good Things Guy podcast consistently being the number one most listened to file for the past several months.

Kevin Fine, Managing Director at Expedite (and former Jacaranda FM Managing Director) says: “Bringing Good Things Guy on to the platform was a strategic move to interrogate our hypothesis that firstly consumers are looking for familiarity in their content choices, and secondly they don’t know where to find it. By adding Brent’s content to the platform we were able to offer a wider audience some really quality content in an environment they could easily access and the results have been phenomenal.

Clearly, the more familiar the content, the name attached to it and the ease of finding it, the more downloads the podcasts will receive. In the past two years that Brent has been with the station his brand has truly blossomed. He’s a true leader in content adoption and he’s been a great prototype for consistent podcast consumption.”

Brent adds: “The past two years at Jacaranda have truly been incredible and I’m so overwhelmed with the amount of continued support The Good Things Guy podcast has received. To be among great company like my fellow Jacpod creators Elana Afrika and Martin Bester who also receive huge downloads on their content, is a great blessing.”

Brent’s channel has been under the coveted ‘featured’ section on Apple Podcasts for almost a year now, during which time his show has ranked regularly in the top 10 podcasts in South Africa, and peaked at number two across all genres countrywide and number one in the Society and Culture category. Good Things Guy on Jacaranda’s JacPod series is popular with both sexes, showing a 55% female, 45% male split. His listeners are primarily South African, however he also has keen followers in the US, UK, Israel, Kenya and Ghana among others.

“Everyone knows the Good Things Guy and Jacpod is pleased to have the content of the biggest blogger in the country that can be shared with digital and listening audiences,” says Fine.

As streaming or on-demand TV is making a big impact on the South African media scene, so are podcasts making the same splash for the “theatre of the mind”, and generally more successfully with a familiar name behind them.  Download or listen at https://www.jacarandafm.com/jacpod/good-things-guy/.

However, Fine adds that “Podcasts as a business on their own lack power and strong business models. Building these in to an omni-channel strategy is far more effective, commercially and for the content creator, and that’s something that radio brands such as Jacaranda FM and Brent do very well.”

The Good Things Guy can also be found at www.goodthingsguy.com, on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Prepared on behalf of:   Good Things Guy

Brent Lindeque

info@goodthingsguy.com

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The business of sports broadcasting – live sport is back!

Andile Qokweni Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop

Live sport in 2020 came to a crashing halt thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic taking it from our courts, stadiums and most importantly our screens. Globally, the absence of live sport amongst sport lovers feels like a pandemic all on its own. This is the first time that all sports programmes were cancelled since the onset of World War II.

Sports broadcasting began in the early 1900s with the first live sports broadcast in 1939 in the USA, a college baseball game broadcast by NBC. What’s important to note however is although a few events had been broadcast before 1939 all of these were to limited audiences and markets as globally, very few people had TV sets.

While television has had a huge impact on sports, it also played an important role in the development and growth of television. During the early days of commercial broadcasting in the 1940s, the networks relied upon broadcasts of sporting events to increase demand for TV sets.

In the 1960s, sports programming underwent a major change. Rather than simply providing viewers with film footage of the event itself, the networks started offering special features that turned sports into high-quality television entertainment. In typical American fashion, it was merging showbiz and bringing appeal and pizzazz to an industry, which previously only brought functionality. Sports broadcasting as we know it today, a billion dollar revenue industry, was born and with it all the accompanying marketing and advertising related opportunities.

The rise of dedicated subscription-based sports networks like ESPN, Skysports and Supersport provided TV viewers with more coverage of athletic contests than was ever available before. The broadcast and cable networks began competing for the television rights to major sports leagues and events. As demand for TV sports contracts increased, the prices the networks paid rose dramatically.

In 1970 for instance, networks paid $50 million for a contract to televise professional football, $18 million for Major League Baseball, and $2 million for professional basketball. By 1985, the prices had increased to $450 million for the NFL, $160 million for MLB, and $45 million for the NBA. Sport had become big media business and continued to grow astronomically to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today.

In the list of the top 10 most expensive 30 second commercial spots ever, the top three are made up of sporting events, namely: Thursday Night Football on NBC, NFL Thursday Night Football on CBS and the top dog – Sunday Night Football on NBC – Superbowl (the pinnacle of any creative is to see their work aired during the Superbowl).

The shutdown of the entire sports world has had a negative effect on multinationals as big as Walt Disney, the parent company of ESPN, which has long relied on huge profits generated by its suite of ESPN channels in the USA. The virus outbreak unfortunately comes at a time when the global trend is to move away from paid subscriptions to online streaming platforms. We’ve seen similar pictures in Europe where monopolies like Sky are sharing the market with smaller more flexible platforms like Eurosport and BT Sport.

Not only are the big multinationals having to adjust to the changing landscape of the broadcasting business but added to that we have the pandemic, which as mentioned upfront, has been cancelled for the first time since World War II. So what does the future hold? Sport will be forced to evolve and adapt as it did throughout the 1900s and early 00s.

ESPN has countered the trend with the launch of its streaming service ESPN+ — which is an eventual replacement for the traditional pay TV subscription — and the inclusion of its channels on internet-delivered TV services such as Sling and Hulu Plus.

For the first time since its inception in 1998, Sky Sports ran a headline from its parent company Skynews as the lack of news or relevant news came to the fore at the height of the Coronavirus epidemic. Subscription prices dropped to an all-time low and the lack of new content forced the broadcaster to make meaningful connections with consumers by providing exclusive content through live Zoom and Microsoft Teams video communication.

Supersport for the first time since its own inception was screening a cocktail of the finest sports-based movies with a sprinkling of its viewers’ best moments from the past two decades but in here lies the magic of sports and broadcasting.

Being in the sport industry means that you are in the entertainment business. Rather than selling a product you are selling the anticipation of what is going to happen and you need to give consumers memories to take away.

Importantly, it is the memories that keep sport fans coming back every season. For this reason, sport as a business will evolve and find new and more meaningful ways to connect with its consumers, the industry did it after World War II, it can do it again.

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Meta Media and The MediaShop offices reopen

Chris Botha, Group Managing Director of Park Advertising has announced that both media agencies within the Park Advertising Group, namely Meta Media and The MediaShop, will reopen their Johannesburg offices as from 17 June 2020.

 As COVID-19 restrictions begin to be relaxed in many countries around the world, organisations are starting to think about when and how to restart operations. With South Africa moving to level 3 lockdown, a brand new normal is manifesting itself in many offices around the country.

“To protect our most important assets, our staff, we started working from home well before President Ramaphosa announced the country’s move to a hard lockdown and we were well prepared,” says Botha. “Now with some semblance of normality returning, we have decided to reopen our Johannesburg offices for those that wish to work in the office environment. In doing so we have developed the necessary processes and protocols to safely reopen.

We have made a large investment in hand sanitisers, social distance markers and various signs indicating the protocols to be followed at various locations around both offices. A thermometer service has also been implemented where everyone will get “temp checked” together with all the other necessary health protocols.”

In accordance to the new protocols and law, all staff are required to ‘self-diagnose’ daily. In order to manage the process more efficiently, Park Advertising has developed a mobile application that their staff can access to complete all necessary and relevant information online, without filling out paperwork.

Other precautions, safety measures and protocols include staff utilising face masks or shields, offices open only at set times, regular temperature checking and only small teams being allowed on the premises.

“Staff that want to continue working from home are encouraged to do so. Our Durban and Cape Town branches will reopen at a later stage. Unfortunately, media owners and clients will still not be allowed access to the buildings,” concludes Botha, “but we look forward to the time when we will be able to see all of our valued friends again.”

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First World Problems during a pandemic

Refilwe Mangweta, Digital Campaign Manager at The MediaShop

In a time when the whole world has been rocked by the tumultuous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the human condition shows how resilient it is in response to fighting this virus. Through these trying times I have learnt the importance of laughing at ourselves a bit. “A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder. For this blog, I wanted to share my pandemic woes on a much lighter note.

Like most people, when the lockdown initially began and upon seeing how the virus was going to change the world as we currently know it, I thought to myself “Ok I’ve got this! I can do my part to flatten the curve!” Dare I say, I even circulated a couple of quotes like ‘our grandparents were called to fight wars, and all we were asked to do is to stay home’.

So needless to say I was ready to stay home and saw this as an opportunity to also accomplish some of the things on my to-do list – procrastination is a real thing! What I was not prepared for is how much of a boujee person I had become which, in turn, made the task at hand uhm ‘superficially challenging’ or at the very least, interesting. Particularly in terms of things I had deemed as “essential” which were honestly just first world problems for instance…

– Store-Bought Coffee – Yep, nothing completes an Instagram picture like a cup of coffee from your favourite coffee shop. So to not have this available was shattering as a coffee lover. The lack of caffeine came a close second to the no alcohol (let’s not even go there).

– Yeast and Ginger – Oh how these previously disregarded items have become the most desired. But the struggle to find these became like the Pokémon challenge version 2.0. Who would have thought that in 2020 we’d be panic buying yeast? Today, yeast has also been promoted from being “just another baking item” to now being critical ingredient to brewing your own alcoholic beverage.

– Make-up – Firstly eyelashes (whether they happen to be your own or not) were definitely essential. And the amount of friends who are having to tame and shape their own eyebrows has made us appreciate all the photo filters on Instagram even more. Any time I needed to go out I would apply my favourite lipstick only to realize no one and I mean NO ONE would see my M·A·C Retro Matte Lipstick.Then there are those beautiful experiences we all thought we would have now that our fast paced lives have slowed down.

– The Zen, that just never came – The number of meditation apps on my phone and the neatly folded unused yoga mat are the perfect examples. Maybe I’ll give it a go tomorrow. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

– The TBR (to be read) pile still sitting on my bookshelf – Listen! As an avid reader this is painful, this was supposed to be my moment to shine. I mean while the world was panic buying toilet paper (before they moved on to the yeast) I stocked up on my fave reads getting myself ready to stay at home, and lose myself into stories and live vicariously through people sitting having drinks at restaurants . Sigh.

– Skin Regiments: My skin regiment has been affected because I used to wear a day cream in the morning then a night cream after my evening shower. But now I shower once a day because I wake up and jump onto meetings *don’t think we haven’t noticed these super early meetings added onto our calendars nowadays*, do work and schooling. So I only shower late afternoon and I can’t put on my night cream in the afternoon. Now I’m stressed because this beauty company promised me the night cream would rejuvenate my skin at night. So when do I use my night cream??? But like I said first world problems.

Thank goodness we’ve moved into level three which will remedy some of my first world problems :). I hope we can continue to laugh at ourselves a little as this virus seems like it will be a part of our lives for some time to come until we find a vaccine.

We need to come to terms with this and take the required precautions. We need to continue to show ourselves and those around us some love because this is difficult for everyone. But most importantly, find moments in each day of this new normal to have a good laugh. And where possible, share that laugh with someone else.

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Navigating the new normal

Claire Herman, Media Operations Lead at The MediaShop talks about the possibility of sanitisation pods, clothing bubbles and life after Covid.

In a matter of months our world has been turned upside down after experiencing a global pandemic infecting over 5.1 million people around the world and resulting in almost 331,000 deaths so far (Worldometer, 21 May 2020). Besides Bill Gates and the screenplay writer of Contagion, who could have predicted this?

In our fast-paced society with instant gratification being the order of the day, asking millions of people to go into self-isolation seems like torture – never before has the freedom to see your friends and family, to exercise or walk your dogs, been raised as such a bone of contention and “irritation” – first world problems. But to many, the harsh reality of their living conditions has made lockdown almost unbearable – restricted access to clean water and sanitation, over-crowded living arrangements, an ever-increasing level of unemployment and a massive shortage of food in many communities, is making it very difficult to keep people in confinement. President Ramaphosa’s announcement on Thursday the 13 th of May that we could possibly move from Level 4 to Level 3 at the end of May (for some regions at least), does give some hope, but at some stage we will need to be set free.

And when that happens, we most certainly won’t be able to “return to normal” – or at least until we have a vaccine or a cure. Some are estimating that a vaccine is still 18 months away. There will also be “degrees of normality” depending on your age and state of health, with older generations and the immunocompromised needing to be extra cautious.

In the meantime, we need to adapt our lifestyles in the long-term as we navigate towards a “new normal”. But the burning question of what exactly this “new normal” will be is on everyone’s lips. For a sobering view on how some countries are entering this new world go to CNN.com’s article “our new normal, in pictures” at https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/20/world/gallery/new-normal-coronavirus/index.html .

Could our new normal be body sanitisation pods, face mask fashion outlets, clothing bubbles that enforce a two meter distance between people, a ban on all work meetings unless virtual? It could all very well happen, but let’s take a realistic look at what will need to happen when we are ‘set free’.

According to a recent Kantar webinar on Navigating Growth in a COVID-19 World, there are a few key shifts that we will experience, including:

  1. Contactless love and affection: virtual dinner parties for adults and virtual playdates and birthday parties for kids, with grandparents needing to keep a safe distance from their grandchildren.
  2. Super-hygiene society: masks may very well be compulsory over the next 18 months, our hands will never be the same again after all the hand-sanitizers and constant washing with soap and water, and we will not be able to shake hands in business meetings or hug our friends hello.
  3. Insular lives: shopping online and shopping local will become the norm, a rise in the use of in-home media channels (TV and digital) and a renewed focus on the home as a safe sanctuary.
  4. Technology super highway: technology as an enabler in society to just get things done from working, shopping and socialising to exercising and meditating.
  5. Renewed respect for essentials: the demand for luxury goods will decline, with a major slowing down of the travel and hospitality industries.
  6. An era of shared humanity: a renewed focus on giving back to the community and random acts of kindness, together with an increase in support for authentic brands that are helping to uplift society.

The reality is that there will be many restrictions imposed on us that we will need to adapt to quite quickly. Public transport will need to be heavily monitored to avoid over-crowding. Our retail spaces will need to be reimagined with employee and shopper safety at the forefront. Work environments will look to creating more personal space as opposed to having large areas where groups of people can get together for meetings and have breaks, and there will be a rise in shift-based work schedules and flexible working arrangements.

Schools and universities will continue to integrate distance learning platforms in certain instances, which may even resolve funding issues to cut costs and give more people access to education. Sport and music events will need to limit audience numbers, with an increase in virtual broadcasts and online performances, as well as a rise in eSport. Restaurants will have staggered seating with a drop in patron capacity and an increase in online ordering and home deliveries.

And families may just end up spending much more quality time together at home… Our new normal may not be too bad in the end, but what this crisis has done is put a spotlight on the shortfalls of our society and in our country. It is now time to actively change the way we have been living for a better future. We truly are #StrongerTogether

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