Medialab October COVID Tracker

Covid icon 4-01-01

A remarkable and poignant set of news and data have emerged since our last edition. Runners raised over £16m as part of the (virtual) Virgin Money London Marathon, as many as 900,000 more children sought free school meals, a record 6,001 net store closures were reported in the first half of  2020, and 3.5 million single young adults in the UK are now estimated to live with their parents. In the face of this enormous change, October’s edition of our tracker is about adapting and transforming, particularly through the lens of Product, Place, Promotion and (instead of Price) Measurement.


Findings reported in the IPA Paper ‘Advertising in a Downturn (2008)’, highlight research from consultancy PIMS Malik, which looked at successful business strategies from the 2008 recession and previous downturns. New Product Development was an area where increased expenditure during a downturn was associated with business success.

Across the age spectrum from young to old, there has been some great product innovation during the coronavirus crisis. For example, the toll on young people in terms of job security and mental wellbeing has been significant. In response, the charity Mind created ‘Switch Off, Game On’ product to harness fundraising by gamers. The National Citizens Service launched ‘No We Can’, was designed to help teens make up for lost time by meeting people and gaining skills for their CVs during the October half-term. For older generations, particularly those in care, Motitech has developed a specially adapted exercise bike that enables older users to revisit familiar places from their lives through a video projection, whilst also maintaining their physical health. This has even spawned the Senior Road Worlds, an indoor cycling competition for Motitech users.


For all audiences, the driver of ‘Place’ has been the acceleration of online adoption.

To understand what this growth in online adoption could mean for charities, Medialab recently conducted a survey in conjunction with YouGov, which examined the types of charity shop stock different age groups would consider buying online. Most notably, the biggest age variance in consideration is in clothing.


Please imagine the following second-hand items were available to buy on a charity shop’s website, at a price that you thought was reasonable…Which, if any, of the following would you consider buying from a charity shop’s website?

Source: YouGov: MediaLab Survey, 27th-28th Aug 2020. 2019 GB Adults

Medialab’s survey also explored the level of comfort respondents have in engaging with a Face to Face fundraiser since the coronavirus crisis started.

Thinking about how you feel currently, in light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak…How comfortable or uncomfortable do you  currently feel about being approached by a Charity Fundraiser on your local high street?

Source: YouGov: MediaLab Survey, 27th-28th Aug 2020. 2019 GB Adults

Given the likelihood of ongoing limitations to face to face fundraising, the coronavirus could be the catalyst for the face-to-face model to change. Some charities have already redeployed their fundraisers into telemarketing roles, and others have explored digital face to face, via instant messenger or even Zoom, giving charities the ability to seek out meaningful conversations with donors through interactions with targeted media.


The first priority of marketing communications is to be noticed. If we fail at that, everything else is academic. Crucial to being noticed are:

  • Distinctive, ownable communications, which disrupt some of the category norms
  • Sufficient Share of Voice to ensure distinctive assets are noticed by broad groups of current and future buyers or donors

In the last month we have seen some different approaches to drive Share of Voice:

  • New advertising campaigns from Royal British Legion and the Humane Society International, which both released commercials in early October
  • Event partnership between Macmillan and the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon
  • Ambassador activism from Marcus Rashford, working with Fareshare, in persuading the major supermarkets to form the Child Food Poverty Task Force

In a crisis, the drive for distinctive communications can often be neglected, as advertisers focus on short term activation. So whilst brands may be increasing their share of voice through different creative approaches, a homogenous use of channels risks reducing the important distinctiveness that makes organisations noticeable.


Finally, we wanted to touch on the measurement ‘topic of the moment’ – Share of Search.  Last week, Les Binet and the IPA unveiled new research on Share of Search growth as a leading indicator of Share of Market growth (across three categories:  utilities, auto and mobile phones). Below left shows the lag between share of search growth for mobile phone company LG, followed by share of market growth. Below right shows the almost exact relationship between share of search growth for VW, with VW’s actual subsequent share of market growth. 


Source: Effworks, Share of Search as a Predictive Measure, October 2020


October has been a dramatic month. The resurgence of Brexit, tension regarding Tier 3 restrictions in the UK, plus political drama in the US create a strong sense of change. In the face of this change, the need to transform our marketing, fundraising and  organisations only becomes more important.

This is a summary from a more detailed COVID Tracker. If you would like to access the full version, please contact our Integration Director, Nick Parker, at


Top Articles

Find a Fresh Escape with National Trust’s New Brand Campaign, “Space to Feel”

This week, National Trust launched its new brand campaign, “Space to Feel,” a campaign crafted to echo the...

Championing Mental Health: How Medialab Group Leads by Example

This Mental Health Awareness Week, I am proud to share that Medialab have attained the IPA People First...

Key Highlights from Medialab's Q1 Charity Knowledge Share

To help keep our charity clients informed and regularly updated on the industry trends that impact their investment...

Medialab Fills Newly Created Role of Strategy Director

As seen in Campaign Magazine.   Harry Darlington has been hired in the newly-created role of strategy director at...

5 Data Driven Tips to Help Supercharge Your Charity

Charities boast portfolios that are more diverse than almost any other kind of organisation, with creative content portraying...

Our Account Director, Ellie

Ellie Aries stepped into her role as Account Director at Medialab with enthusiasm and expertise, 9 months ago....