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Adapt or Die

Updated: May 15

Shanine Paulino: Media Manager

Adapt or die’ – How the Namibian Media Industry has re-strategized operations during the lockdown.

We have all heard the saying ‘adapt or die’ but what does it really mean? We are currently finding ourselves in a pandemic namely the outbreak of Covid-19. The outbreak has a worldwide impact on individuals, communities, businesses, and nations. This, however, is not the first time the world is propelled into a state of panic, and still, some companies managed to thrive and that can only be because they were willing to adapt at whatever cost to survive. Let’s take Coca-Cola for example, they are still around years later after they survived the second world war seeing that many companies failed during those unfavorable periods.

I came across a noteworthy advert done by Coke during the Second World War in 1945 and guess what? – there is no sign of the bold red with white lettering logo and instead, there are soldiers enjoying coke from a camouflaged dispenser. This is so profound because it reminds us that we always need to be relevant to what is happening around us, and in this case, something that might mean you compromise your brand colours for an undecided period to cost-cutting reasons, amongst others. Coca-Cola’s German branch developed Fanta during the second World War because heavy embargoes prevented the import of syrup. This just shows the extent to which you must be able to adapt – it is an attitude of survival. Many companies would throw in the towel because it is out of their hands, which it technically is, but you can always find a loophole.

The same can be said for media – during crises we must find ways to stay relevant. How do we do that when no client wants to book OOH (out-of-home) mediums, when more than half the population is in panic mode and when people become more conservative with spending? These are all such important questions and I think the answer was beautifully put by Gary Vaynerchuk, an internet marketing guru, that “nothing in media really dies”. This statement is proven true as the annual spending on television and radio in the age of the internet has slowly declined in the last decade and yet during a worldwide pandemic, these two mediums seem to be staying consistently relevant to a certain extent. Referring to internet marketing, Facebook makes approximately 85% of its revenue from offering ads with Google ads sitting at 99% of its revenue. During the global recession of 2008, it was seen that small companies continued with their advertising on these platforms while large companies cut back on advertising, the main reasons for companies adapting that concept during adverse economic times are that large companies have already established their mark on the market retaining customers through loyalty even though overall sales declined each quarter, whilst small businesses had no choice but to up their spending on advertising on said platforms to remain relevant. The upside for small businesses doing advertising during times when consumers are spending less is that consumers are looking for cheaper options thus leading to smaller businesses acting as opportunists. Today in Namibia, this can be seen with food delivery companies seeking to fill in the gap.

I consulted two of our media partners on how they are reinventing themselves to make the best out of the lockdown. Future Media, which is a trusted source of information with several stations namely Radiowave, Omulunga FM, Fresh FM, Nova and Jacc FM, find that this is indeed an opportunity to learn, gain new insights and find tools that enable their team to successfully maintain communication. A major concern is also the amount of fake news making waves. Jacqueline Lohmann, Accounts Executive for Agencies explains, “As much as we’ve always taken pride in sourcing accurate and relevant information for on-air content and getting it out to our listeners, it’s been imperative to ensure that over this period, with heightened uncertainty and disrupted routines, that all news (whether Internationally, from our Government, from Bank of Windhoek, LAC, Govt. Gazette, etc.) is on our stations’ airwaves, with immediate effect, ensuring we are the media market leader across our stations.’’ These are but a few of the challenges faced by the radio and on-air personalities to ensure that the connection is still there and that we, the listener are always updated.

I also caught up with NMH (Namibia Media Holdings), which is the biggest multimedia news publishing group in Namibia that hosts national daily newspapers, namely Republikein, Namibian Sun, and Allgemeine Zeitung along with several online and social media platforms where live broadcasting, streaming, and news is communicated 24/7. They are embracing this challenge with journalists working around the clock from several remote stations across Namibia. Journalists had to adjust their reporting methods of video recordings, interviews, conducting live broadcasting shows, researching, and compiling in-depth infographics while maintaining the reputation of a credible news source. A chat with Glenda Manthe-Grobler (Relationship Manager for NMH) and it is clear that NMH is staying relevant, she says that “NMH made a commitment to give free access to ALL digital news outlets for the latest updates and the digital version of the daily newspapers and embraced this challenge in these difficult times to ensure we continue living up to core values by sharing information to empower their communities with knowledge.’’

It is great to know that you can still listen to your favourite DJ or read the daily paper from the comfort of your home. It is clear that to survive this, the media industry has to relook their position and then make informed decisions on what to change/improve to ensure that they stay top of mind. Ogilvy Namibia has been working in partnership with various media suppliers to ensure that we mitigate the challenges we face to come out on top. We too have to analyse the position of all our clients and assess which mediums would work best for each client. Therefore, in conclusion, we really are just left with one choice- to adapt! And this can be interpreted in so many ways; improvise, change, correct, perfect, adjust, relook, innovate, or transform, but what it all translates to is identifying what isn’t working and find an alternative that will work. Easier said than done, but that is the mantra we carry with ourselves this year.

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