How to Prepare for the Post-COVID-19 Marketing Industry

August 21, 2020

When chief marketing officers sit down to share what they see from their vantage points, we like to listen. If you follow closely, CMOs share goals, challenges, and insights into their workflow. This is information job seekers are expected to be able to discuss in an interview. Despite so much in the marketing industry riding on a successful vaccine, these CMOs spoke to Cannes Lions with certainty about the changes you should prepare for after COVID. Let's dive in!


OK, not such a novel insight, but nonetheless essential to prepare for. Speaking to Cannes Lions, Tamara Rogers, CMO of GSK, Asim Naseer, CMO of Consumer Brands, and Leanne Cutts, CMO of HSBC, agreed that the crisis has driven the adoption of forecasted trends faster. For Rogers and Naseer, that's e-commerce. For Cutts, that's the "migration to digital channels - especially mobile."

However, learning to use tools like TikTok - Katie Riccio Puris, Global Head of Business Marketing at TikTok, says, "Don't make ads, make TikToks!" - can help brands talk to people and other businesses in an original, authentic way. All emphasized brand purpose - a key point you should hone in on when talking to prospective employers and clients.


This doesn't mean events and experiential marketing are bygones, a fact Bozoma Saint John, CMO at Netflix and formerly William Morris Endeavor, stood by. For her, the current rate of change is too fast for marketers, who need to slow down when studying trends and culture before making moves. Now is the time to adapt your skill set to a digital-first environment.


Since the company's founding, Elysian has upheld its mission to equitably place premier creative talent in roles, including Black creatives and creatives of color. However, the industry itself has a ways to go. This year is the turning point.


As we wrote in March, diversity is half the measure. You might think of it like 'numbers on the board,' as Saint John put it. The other half is how companies invest in diverse talent to support their ideas, growth, and decision-making authority internally. In her words:

“Black Lives Matter didn’t start yesterday, this movement has been here for some time. The reaction, though, the depth at which different companies are making statements, are looking within themselves, are trying to donate to the right causes is surprising to me. My hope is that it continues... I’m very glad to see the response of businesses to the matter.”

And her advice for senior-talent: “I wish that we wouldn’t look at our personal responsibilities as separate from our corporate responsibilities. That responsibility has unfortunately fallen on the shoulders of people of color for a long time. Now we’re seeing the responsibility of...corporations, and therefore, I want business leaders to also react as humans. Take that personal feeling...answer that call both personally and in the workplace."


The phase-out of third party cookies probably isn't the existential threat it’s been talked up to be. Rogers transitioned GSK to adopt Google's tech stack to help with programmatic buying. With access to anonymized first-party data, they're closely following GDPR and data privacy laws when applying insights from an anonymous person's digital footprint to plan their media buying and begin serving content in said person's location.


These are questions bound to come up in interviews if you're on the buy-side. Remember that regulation won't hold you back from "big, bold ideas." You just have to make sure that "you're making the right claims."


Leaner budgets equal tighter metrics. Pedro Earp, CMO of AB InBev, spoke about the need for CMOs and senior creatives to broaden their skills and experiences to offer business solutions as opposed to solely creative solutions. Referring to the Madison Ave era, when clients would "brief agencies on business problems, and the agency would have to come up with a business solution," Earp believes the C-suite and marketing team will need to converge their KPIs.



The world of work will look different after COVID. For example, we now know remote work works! When the crisis ends, it will take time for the industry to recover as the level of private sector (including households) debt will be high and spending likely low. However, you can differentiate yourself from other applicants as freelance, and eventually full-time, roles open by having perspectives and ideas for these currents in the industry:

  • Understanding e-commerce and mobile user journeys
  • Pushing for racial justice in the C-suite
  • Knowing how to discuss effective strategies without third party cookies
  • Preparing strategies to achieve business and financial KPIs

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Warm regards,