Let's Do the Pivot: Marketers Pick the Word of the Year


It was the year that everybody quarantined, masked up and tried like hell to not give up hope. But for marketers, it was the year of the pivot. 

The Association of National Advertisers has announced that "pivot" is its Word of the Year for 2020. Other popular terms it beat out: "virtual," "agility" and "resiliency."

Since 2014, the ANA has surveyed its members to identify the word most resonant with marketers. Nearly 300 members responded to an online survey this month.

Of course, pivot is a well-worn cliché of the business world. It was even the title of a 2016 book by former Google exec Jenny Blake. It also happens to be the name of a Canadian charter airline, a brand of mountain bikes, a defunct cable channel, and an Indianapolis ad agency. But perhaps never before has the theme of pivoting been so meaningful to so many in the global business community than in this year of COVID-19, a collapsing economy and demands for social justice. 

Here's some of what members of ANA's Global CMO Growth Council had to say about pivoting in 2020:

"We pivoted from physical experiences to digital experiences. We call this Priceless at Home. Brand-building never stops. It's not just advertising — it's a collective result of all the activities a company does that drives a brand, in good times and in not-so-good times. -Raja Rajamannar, CMO, Mastercard

"When the pandemic began, we started with a message focused on availability. We then pivoted to a more emotional message, celebrating that people were still enjoying our food, but in this new socially distanced world. ... Through all of this, we've let the consumer guide our messaging." -Morgan Flatley, senior vp and chief marketing and digital customer experience officer, McDonald's

"Everything has changed. In general, marketers should be focused on saying and doing things that are immediately useful to their customers. In a crisis, you connect by helping in a meaningful way." -Norman DeGreve, CMO, CVS Health

Previous ANA Words of the Year were "personalization," "artificial intelligence" and "programmatic."

After a year like this, one can only wonder what the Word of the Year for 2021 will be. 

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