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The wackaging craze


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Will consumers now be more receptive to bottled drinks that introduce themselves like a friend showing up in middle of the desert? To products that talk to them directly on WhatsApp? The wackaging concept has been around since before 2000, but the pandemic has prompted an explosion of positivity in many brands, prone to exaggerating hope in times of uncertainty. CommsLive, a training forum for experts, recently noted this phenomenon and other changing trends in communications and marketing this past year.

If we don’t ask questions now, then when? At MAPFRE, we have always striven to provide food for thought on how we’ve changed. Many of changes are only just emerging and some, of course, are temporary. Here, we’ve collected a few key points about communication that CommsLive forum guests shared based on their experience.


Disinformation and human communication

According to Nacho Jiménez Soler, Endesa’s General Manager of Communication and founding member of La Propagadora, the last year can be explained by three key points: disinformation (fake news) has increased during the pandemic, channels and audiences have been fragmented, and there is greater disintermediation, which has allowed communication teams to develop a stronger personality and develop their own content.

For Jaime Fagoaga from Ferrovial, these times have made organizations’ communications departments more important, allowing them to share more human communications that are more in touch with social realities, with a focus on “people doing things.” There has also been unprecedented digitization, such as broadcasts of corporate events streamed live, for example Annual General Meetings and presentations of results—as MAPFRE has done since the beginning of the pandemic—and in new applications.

“Right now, we can’t hold our events as we’d like, people communicating in a face-to-face environment that encourages interaction with the public. But that time will come again and, in the meantime, we want to continue communicating and receiving feedback. To present the annual results a few weeks ago, we used several of the digital tools that have gained popularity in the corporate world as a result of the pandemic. The same is true for the Annual General Meeting. We aren’t together in person, but we remain committed to transparency and our interest in sharing with all audiences, direct and mediated, the things we do in the business, as well as our social balance sheet, the commitment we’ve shown during the pandemic in more than 30 countries. And we used all channels to do this. On social networks alone, interactions have grown by 92 percent in 2020,” explained Javier Fernández, MAPFRE Corporate Communication Director.

One of the trends that’s been established is the increase in podcast consumption, which has grown by 25 percent, making it possible to grow advertising revenue for certain projects on platforms like Spotify, as the head of the Kloshletter newsletter explained. At MAPFRE, we just launched a new podcast channel with programs like La bolsa de deporte (“The Sports Exchange”).

Another point that shows progress in user preferences is the growth of multi-device consumption (from computers, cellphones and tablets) and schedules sliding an hour later in the morning, as reflected by the General Media Study (EGM) in Spain. Experts say this is due to increased remote working and the fact that it’s now easier for users to access information more freely from home using sources other than traditional internal corporate portals.

Internal communication and social media

Internal communication has been reinvented, with new formats, online events for employees and the proliferation of virtual seminars and training programs.

Many external events have been canceled due to the pandemic and have given way to streaming with more creative virtual scenery. Experts hope that when things return to normal, a hybrid system will be established: face-to-face for a select groups of guests and streamed to a wider audience. With external events and filming brought to a halt, multimedia specialists like The Tab Gang or Quality Producciones have had to adapt to meet the new demands: more video, more streaming and, ideally, multicam productions that have never been seen before.

At the height of TikTok and Twitch, social networks gained ground in communications last year, with companies joining networks where they had little or no presence in order to communicate with new stakeholders. The new audio app, Clubhouse, a private club available by invite only, is revolutionizing the playing field and showing great potential. Experienced organizations have naturally already taken this leap in their online audience acquisition strategy, so we need to keep an eye on them.

Some experts, such as Txema Valenzuela, founder of La Propagadora and member of CommsLive, and Alba Uceda, from Garaje de Ideas, warn of exaggerated positivity (or wackaging) promoted by some brands that rely on channels such as WhatsApp. They believe it will be necessary for these messages to be made more concise and realistic, distancing themselves from “toxic positivity.” COVID-19 has revolutionized traditional communication. Faced with wackaging, more balanced organizations understood that it was time to empathize rather than sell, in a context of global crisis, shared purpose and humanism.