12 June 2020

Contagious Magazine Issue 63 is out now 

Editor Chloe Markowicz on the hubris of making plans and why brands are being confronted with the need to adapt

‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ observed former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson when asked about his opponent’s strategy before a big fight.

The Covid-19 virus has a mean left hook and the past few months have seen pretty much every brand get metaphorically hit in the face. The very idea of having once considered making a plan for 2020 feels like hubris in light of the pandemic.

Elaborating on his famous quote years later, Tyson told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that, though someone might have a plan, when they get hit ‘like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze’. Surely, the message for brands here is don’t freeze like a rat… and, if you want to avoid getting your ear chomped off, don’t blindly follow a plan once the situation has shifted.

Instead, adapt. Tyson’s words (themselves adapted from the 19th-century Prussian military commander Helmuth von Moltke the Elder’s decree that ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’) don’t teach us to disregard plans altogether but show that planning for the need to adapt will rarely be wasted effort. Easy to say, but not always easy to accomplish. This quarter’s magazine shows exactly how that’s done.

Marketers are not health workers or scientists, but they still have a role to play in this global crisis. Brands can command attention, spread messages and solve problems.

In our World’s Best Creative section we highlight those that set aside their existing marketing plans to help people stay safe and healthy, bring communities together and spread joy.

When dealing with the pandemic, speed is key, as Lucy Jameson, co-founder of agency Uncommon, explains in her opinion piece: ‘[The brands that will] survive or thrive throughout this period will be the ones able to react to the changes quickly.’ Indeed, most of the brands we’ve championed in this issue have acted with an alacrity that would have been considered impossible just months ago.

Like everyone else, we at Contagious haven’t quite carried on as normal. How could we? But, as we declare (in bright pink lettering no less) on the cover of this magazine, we’ve remained steadfast in our mission ‘to inspire and enable contagious creativity’. And we truly believe that if brands can adapt their plans in the face of this crisis, they have an opportunity to add genuine value to the world.

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