6 Telecommunications and Telefitness Takeaways From Adweek Presents: The Way Forward

AT&T's chief brand officer and Equinox's CMO on how their brands will change post-pandemic

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Businesses as we knew them before the coronavirus pandemic probably won’t be what they were, but that’s not stopping them from thinking of innovative ways to keep prioritizing consumer needs.

In our second episode of Adweek Presents: The Way Forward, Adweek’s Lisa Granatstein, editor, svp programming, explored the current state of the telecommunications and telefitness worlds with Fiona Carter, chief brand officer at AT&T and Seth Solomons, CMO at Equinox.

For the next edition of Adweek Presents: The Way Forward, Granatstein speaks with the NFL’s CMO Tim Ellis and DoorDash’s vp of marketing Kofi Amoo-Gottfried about the future of sports and food delivery. You can register for the member exclusive livestream here, which airs May 6 at 3 p.m. ET.


Here are some takeaways from the latest episode:

Create action, not ads

As the pandemic began, Carter said it was a “timely reminder” for her and her team at AT&T to think about how they were going to be a useful brand for people.

“That mantra that I created was, ‘Let’s talk about solutions and support, not selling,’” Carter said.

AT&T started providing services such as contactless delivery and curbside pickup for customers who purchase things from its retail stores. It’s also working with school districts to ensure children are able to connect to online classes and created a $10 million distance learning fund to support Kahn Academy and seven startups creating distance learning tools.

Spend ad dollars strategically

Most advertisers lost 40% of their media spend with the loss of live sports, according to Carter, so her team looked into what people are consuming right now. They noticed there were more people watching broadcast prime-time programs, live news and that there was a huge increase in people on various social platforms.

“We adjusted the media spend to make sure that day to day, we’re where everybody else is,” Carter said.

AT&T is looking to be as “supportive and experimental as possible” by “looking for those big, live moments” that will keep people engaged, such as the WNBA’s virtual draft that took place on April 17.

Reevaluate remote work

This new era of working from home has allowed Carter to view her coworkers in a new light.

“There’s something magical about seeing everybody’s faces on a screen, but then also the life behind the public or the professional persona,” she said.

As the pandemic continues, Carter’s biggest advice for marketers is to use this time to be inventive because there is no playbook.

“No one has the answers. So what should you do? You should seize that opportunity,” she continued. “It may be a scary time, but it should be a liberating time because frankly, there’s no right answer.”

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Equinox’s business model is dependent on fostering a connection with consumers and for Solomons, that’s not changing any time soon.

The fitness brand closed its locations across the country on March 16 and planned to stay transparent with employees and members by communicating with them every seven to 10 days with the pandemic’s latest developments. It was a way for Equinox to keep them informed of what they were seeing change across the U.S., Solomons said.

Connect continually 

As stay-at-home orders became the norm across the country, Equinox launched Variis, an app with on-demand workouts, a daily roundup of articles about nutrition and fitness and opportunities for trainers to virtually meet with members.

“In some respects virtually, we’re closer to some of our members than we’ve ever been,” Solomons said, and that going forward that members will “have the flexibility to go to the club or to use Variis digitally.”

Evaluate a ‘new normal’ 

There’s no set date for Equinox’s reopening, but Solomons said the brand is consulting with medical experts, local and federal governments and an internal task force to evaluate next steps.

“Our strong belief is that we need to make sure that we’re creating a safe environment for our employees and our members,” he said. “And not only is that about cleaning better or different sanitizing solutions, but this is about feeling safe.”

Solomons encourages marketers to use this time to “break things down and bring different talents together” because “there’s so much magic in those situations.”


@tiffmoustakas tiffany.moustakas@adweek.com Tiffany Moustakas is an associate web editor at Adweek, where she helps keep the magazine's digital presence up and running by editing stories and assisting with social media.