Being cup half-full types, we’re always looking for a silver lining that indicates an end to the pandemic.
The “all in this together” rallying cry has worn thin. So where are we today? Time for a reality check.
Two articles this week underscored the complexity of our situation here in the winter of 2021. The articles carefully dissect the false panacea associated with vaccines.
James Hamblin, writes in The Atlantic:
The sheer scale and capacity of this virus are challenging many things we thought we knew, but the basic laws governing its evolution are not among them. All viruses are constantly evolving and changing, just as human populations are. When a virus is spreading as widely and rapidly as SARS-CoV-2, spinning through trillions of generations each minute, adaptation is inevitable. The transmissibility of the virus will change. The severity of the disease it causes will change. Its ability to evade our immune system will change. It very well may evolve to circumvent our current vaccines.
The reality is that we’re years away from reaching any level of global herd immunity. Many variants or mutations will appear between now and then. Vaccines will be formulated to thwart these strains, but we can already see from our experience so far in this pandemic that nothing happens quickly on a global or national scale.
We have to learn to be even more adaptable and patient – when we thought those characteristics were already stretched beyond the breaking point.
Closer to home, we’ve been following the trials of Brooks Fallis, the former head of critical care at the William Osler Health System who lost his job for criticizing government ineptitude in handling Covid.
Brooks’ article in The Globe and Mail brings those global concerns much closer to home.
These two paragraphs serve as a wake-up call to anyone still suffering from complacency.
The new variants of concern (VOCs) present two major new challenges. The first is a more difficult virus to control and contain. The B.1.1.7 variant is about 60 per cent more transmissible. Early evidence suggests it might also cause more severe disease, and have a higher mortality rate, though we do not yet know this with certainty. Variants are spreading in many communities across Canada. Unfortunately, most jurisdictions lack the ability to identify VOCs in real time.
The second is concern around immune evasion. Some VOCs (B.1.351 and P.1) could cause disease in people with natural immunity from prior COVID-19 infection or immunity from vaccination. Again, more data is needed, but the mere possibility is frightening.
Why does that concern us as marketers? We aren’t scientists. These aren’t problems we can solve. No, but these are problems that will affect every one of us and every aspect of the economy.
We’re not here to preach pessimism or get on our high horse on a subject we, like most of society, have trouble grasping.
We’re here to alert our colleagues and friends that we’re going to have to continue to adapt and keep searching for new ways of working shaped by circumstances beyond our control. Not an easy task.
So what is the answer for marketers today? Don’t blink. “Pivot” isn’t going to have a short life as a buzzword. Get used to it.
The real test of marketers today is: how nimble are you? How capable are you to change course, change tactics, change messaging to reflect changing times? That’s how you will be judged. That’s how you will stay relevant. Stay at the front of the conversation.
That requires commitment. It also suggests never going dark. Once you’re out of this market, you’re lost and out of date. You need to connect more than ever with a wary public whose confidence in government, media and corporations continues to plummet.
This new reality should lead all of us to ask the question of the day: “How nimble are you?” The test is: How capable are you of enacting a rapid response to new market conditions?
Thoughts to consider as our society starts to reopen despite ominous clouds on the horizon.
Thanks for reading.