Dan'l Mackey Almy Discusses Challenges of Marketing Amidst COVID-19 and Social Justice Movements
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
DALLAS, TX - Our industry is no stranger to challenges or tough conversations, but the question of when to do so in a public forum is still relatively uncharted territory for operations that were, for so long, behind the curtain. Dan’l Mackey Almy, President and CEO of DMA Solutions, took the opportunity presented by United Fresh LIVE! to break the ice on today’s unprecedented climate, from COVID-19 to the current social justice movement.
“As marketers, our primary job is to proliferate and protect the brands that we serve. We’ve had to do this, unfortunately, through many crises through the years whether it’s a foodborne illness, natural disasters, shootings, and war. This year has brought our nation, and the world, sensitive times that we must navigate, and we don’t expect sensitivities around politics, civil rights, or the pandemic to subside anytime soon,” Dan’l and her team recently said in a summary of the Fireside Chat Session DMA hosted late last week. “What does this mean for marketers? We must adapt.”
COVID-19 was a heavy topic found all across United Fresh’s week-long show schedule of general sessions and networking opportunities. To this, Dan’l added an eye for marrying data with fluidity.
According to the DMA team, Food Dive reported four out of five consumers said that the pandemic has changed their food habits, driving them to cook, eat, shop, and think differently about food. Additionally, 60 percent of consumers are now cooking at home and 33 percent are snacking and washing produce more as a result of COVID-19, a fact reiterated in United Fresh LIVE!’s Organics General Session.
“Now, knowing that people will continue to be cautious re-entering the public domain as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a reality and threat, we recommend that you heed our advice and embrace these words when creating and sharing content with your consuming audiences,” Dan’l shared, listing several approaches for brands to consider.
The social justice movement was less discussed around the show—not from what I perceived as avoidance, but out of lacking a clear approach on how to grapple with the topic from a business approach. A business which, again, is still newly connected to the public. For myself, this was further clarified when Dan’l spoke of values being a topic that should be addressed and sorted internally before making grander steps externally. And rather than prompting such steps, the Fireside Chat encouraged just that—conversation, questions, and a feeling of not being isolated in any confusion or challenges raised by the movement taking place across the United States and beyond.
“What we know for sure is staying true to your brand is critical. Inclusivity is the key to showing your followers on social media that you are listening and willing to acknowledge the diversity that your business and your audience represents,” Dan’l and her team advised, clarifying that there is no one specific recommendation for each and every company. “We’ve seen little disruption from a B2B standpoint, but of course, B2C brands are seeing a different reality. The most important thing to remember is if you are going to make a statement, ensure that your executive team and/or Board of Directors is in agreement with your position. In other words, do not go rogue!”
To see a more in-depth breakdown of DMA’s advice on both topics via its Fireside Chat Recap, which also contains instructions to access the replay of the session, click here.
Yes, our industry is no stranger to challenging conversations, nor are we exempt from the questions raised by the political, ethical, and physical climate surrounding us, but we are so much more than the products we provide. We are a culture of connection, and through that we can find a way to map out these unknowns together.