By Alberta Lagorio-Serra, Sales Director, CNN International Commercial
Events of global magnitude are usually very few and far between, which makes it incredibly unusual for the world to be grappling at the same time with both the fall-out of a pandemic of a scale not seen for a hundred years and war in Europe that impacts not just the people of Ukraine but the countries and people who rely on its grain or Russia’s oil. These two events are redefining everything from the geopolitical landscape to the way people communicate and view society.
According to the GWI News Study 2022, over 80% of people say that keeping up with breaking news is important to them. And no wonder – it’s understandable that people are closely following the news as we live through a period of seismic change. Furthermore, we know that the engagement of CNN’s global audience during such times is particularly high as our audience comprises not just citizens of the world but people of influence in business, governments, those with high net worth, and people who shape opinions. These people need credible news to inform their professional lives, with the same GWI News Study finding that CNN is the top-rated news brand amongst these audiences when it comes to their preference of where to go for breaking news.
Such a scenario does, however, pose a serious question for brands and nations that want to communicate with the world: how can they advertise, tell their stories and reach consumers and customers in an authentic way that makes them part of a global conversation during a period of change and uncertainty? Having worked at CNN for over a decade, I am well versed in balancing some of these needs, helping clients understand our brand safety technologies, and counseling them on when – and when not – to run campaigns during a busy news agenda.
In contrast to the past, many marketers have re-evaluated how they communicate during times like this. Their thinking is largely driven by a shift in consumer behavior as people want to see brands stand for something. Take sustainability, for instance – a recent study conducted for CNN by BVA/BDRC found that 83% of CNN’s audience advocate for brands that implement sustainable practices that have a positive impact on society and the environment. Taking that a step further, the same study found that 85% of our audience are interested in making investment decisions that include sustainability credentials.
A good example of an innovative and relevant campaign that taps into the conversation and audience interest around sustainability is the Egyptian Ministry of International Co-operation’s Building Forward: Stories from Egypt campaign. Our team has worked closely with the MOIC led by H.E. Rania Al Mashat to develop a campaign that uses branded content fact files to tell the story of Egypt’s collaboration with bilateral and multilateral development partners and international financial institutions in its push towards an inclusive, digital and green economy. Key themes of sustainable development and bilateral cooperation are so important to the rest of the world right now, and consequently are resonating strongly with our audience. We are delighted with the success of the campaign, particularly as Egypt is taking center stage in these discussions as the country prepares to host Cop27.
Another way in which our world is impacted by both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine is through the global supply chain. As manufacturing and production have slowed in parts of the world and transportation has become more difficult in other regions, we have become even more reliant on logistics companies to keep the world moving. This is a story we have been telling editorially on CNN for some time now and a topic that DP World, one of the world’s major players in this sector, has been proactive in communicating about. Its recent Trade Reimagined campaign on CNN has been successful in bringing the world of logistics to life through brand stories such as showing how the opening of a logistics platform in Rwanda has allowed the country to become a dominant exporter of avocados. This is just one of a number of DP World brand stories that have run across CNN platforms in recent months.
I was also pleased to see one of our region’s logistics players GWC begin a multi-platform campaign with us earlier this year. The Life, Delivered campaign showcases GWC’s role in providing intricate planning and robust infrastructure for logistics across various sectors – from the cold chain, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and fine art, to mega-events such as the FIFA World Cup. Again, working with our creative studio, the branded content campaign focuses on people and places to illustrate the impact the GWC has in the world. At a time when our audience is seeing first-hand what happens when distribution and trade routes are disrupted, these campaigns about what makes a robust supply chain couldn’t be more relevant.
These campaigns from MOIC, DP World, and GWC are prime examples of how brands can be part of this global conversation, and – because their messages are so relevant to the wider news agenda – their stories actually resonate even more with our audiences during this time. We may be living in uncertain times when many accepted norms are being challenged, but brave, relevant, and creative advertising campaigns will always have the power to drive conversation and have an impact, particularly when they take place within a trusted and global news environment.