Carole Hayek: 'Chaos Creates New Opportunities'
Posted on 2020 Jun,30

‘The pandemic forced the world to stop its frantic race and have engaged both companies and people in an unprecedent experience to face the unknown, says Carole Hayek, General Manager, Magna, Lebanon, who speaks about the chaos resulted in business but also the opportunities created.

‘This new context created fear and uncertainty on all levels pushing most of the companies to adopt a hunker down posture to face the financial challenges.

It also affected directly the consumer on the emotional level, creating a shift in his perception and leading to a behavior change, which should be closely monitored.

Working from home, buying online, webinars, Zoom and many other video apps have been the new way and tools making our life easier from distance. However, from my personal point of view, the physical contact is still and continue to be very important to communicate not only words and ideas but rather vibes and energy. Marketeers are known to be extroverts, dynamic, energetic, with an openness towards others. Those personality traits are very positive to our job, but do not help us to cope easily during the lockdown period because it is not given to change persisting characteristics just like that!

Let’s face it, feeling alone, is not a usual and comfortable task for extroverts. Not being able to be physically present for meetings, persuade, negotiate, shake hands and celebrate makes it even harder. Virtual business might continue even after the lockdown period, but I am sure that once the risk of contamination ceases, a new balance between digital and physical business approach will take place.

This period shed the light on weakness and positive points available at the core of each business. Several companies were relying heavily on the global supply chains, which have been disrupted, and most of them were not ready or flexible enough to think and act outside of their traditional structures and practices to overcome this challenge. The best example illustrating the shortage caused by the supply chain was the toilet paper phenomena in USA. At the same time, most of medium to small size companies were more agile and have been able to adapt easier and quickly to the changes happening to their industry or market. In Lebanon, for example, local manufacturers and distributors have used the context as an opportunity for growing their business and we have seen innovative and useful products emerging in the market and new brands investing in all forms of marketing and advertising while the market leaders have been silent.

The changes experienced by the companies and the consumers might remain after exiting the pandemic. Therefore, I believe companies should create new business models from those learnings to serve better the new consumer’s needs and expectations on both the short and long run. This applies certainly to the servicing, communication and the advertising field.

But, Lebanon challenges come from several number of forces, over which we have no control, affecting the business and marketing activities. Advertising is strongly correlated to the GDP per capita especially during the growing phase. In 2010, we witnessed the highest level of both advertising investment and GDP per capita. After which a remarkable decline in GDP/capita start showing until reaching its lowest level in 2018. Meanwhile, the media advertising spending maintained stagnant more or less at the same level till 2019 when the industry couldn’t face anymore the financial turmoil. The economy crisis hitting its peak during 2019 dragged the huge decline of the Lebanese media spending.

The cascading events since last year from political instability, bankruptcy, lockdowns have placed the industry in an unconducive business environment. So, the question is not if the ad industry can emerge easily from the pandemic crisis, as it has much more obstacles to overcome.

Marketing and media communication represent the two sides of the same coin for a successful business. Therefore, if there is a common will with all local industries and businesses to survive, then we will make it, and we will make our come back soon.

Lebanon has always been the source for creative talents, strategic brains and leading businessmen for the region. We need to keep fighting for our survival and growth.

Chaos will create new opportunities, let’s be ready to welcome the change.’