03 September 2020
As Auckland moved out of a second round of lockdown, it gave us at Mango the chance to reflect on what happened the first time we entered Level 2, and then 1, especially around events. As experts in this field, from the outset we wanted to stay at the forefront of conversations around the dos and don’ts of operating under the different levels. We also wanted to ensure we were advising our clients of best practice when it came to hosting.
Online platforms have played a huge role in ensuring we still feel connected as 2020 throws what it has at us. However, as we moved into Level 1 for the first time in June, it became clear that online platforms could never replace face-to-face connection. We saw that the New Zealand public was eager to catch up in real life. Our innate love of connection, catching up over a coffee, beer and a yarn, is quintessential to who we are as a people and a part of our well-known friendly identity.
With this in everyone's minds, our events and the planning of them came back with a vengeance as we again gathered in the office. This was different from before, of course. When we went into Level 4 all events ceased. At Level 2 and 1, the ingredients of a well thought out event plan had changed and those ready to go in March needed many new work arounds three months later.
In June, DDB, Mango and Emerson’s Beer were brave enough to launch the first large experiential campaign post-lockdown, Emerson’s Brewing Company’s “Tiny Pub” – a custom-built, touring pop-up pub perfectly suited to a one-on-one catch-up. The success we had with this nationwide tour was ten-fold as not only was the concept’s messaging focused around the reunification of friends, but the limited numbers allowed in tune with the zeitgeist. Our timing was immaculate.
The experience allowed guests to indulge their senses once again, from touch to smell to taste. We received constant feedback on the three week tour about how great it was that there were events and activations to enjoy again. The novelty of a beer with a friend was one we knew had been missed and we kept this in mind as we entered into the planning and execution phase of other experiences for other clients.
The overwhelming sentiment in early August was that New Zealand was just hitting its stride, that our “new normal” had been adjusted to and while the effects of COVID were far and wide, we had regained some sense of independence. Then a second, regional lockdown was announced.
From June to August we had seen an undiminished appetite for events, including catch-ups of a more corporate nature. People were hungry for connection and it didn’t seem to be diminishing. They still are despite the second wave of restrictions.
What has unfolded over the last couple of weeks, while frustrating to be back to what feels like square one, has still given us confidence. This time events were postponed, not cancelled, requirements amended and adapted to ensure that no traction was lost, COVID-ready plans adjusted to include masks, for instance. It is clear that everyone has understood the importance of keeping things moving, where possible.
Mango people are experts in communicating, through a wide variety of platforms and styles, but at our core we’re experts at nailing the messaging, reading the room. This too is true for the events we conceive, prepare, plan and roll out. The last few months have seen us develop a wide skill set in understanding how to be COVID compliant, looking out for specifics regarding postponement or cancellations – not just your usual ‘force majeure’ but details that didn’t even need to be considered seven months ago.
We feel confident that events, experiences, activations et al aren’t going anywhere. Kiwis value connection, never more so than when it’s been restricted. We know that there will be the need to adapt, scenario plan and pivot quickly. But it’s impossible to ignore humankind’s overwhelming desire to indulge all five senses in person. Our team are equipped with the know-how to ensure that all considerations (be it COVID, or other) are made and factored in, to ensure your event doesn’t need to be cancelled. In fact, all that will be required is a shift in gear.