Pivot: The ANA 2020 Marketing Word of the Year | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Pivot: The ANA 2020 Marketing Word of the Year

December 14, 2020

By Bill Duggan


Since 2014, the ANA has surveyed its members to identify the marketing word of the year. The ANA’s Marketing Word of the Year for 2020 is particularly representative of a year marked by the ravages caused throughout the world by the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice issues. This year the winner was “pivot.”

As in years past, the ANA staff identifies a list of finalists and then asks members to cast their vote to determine the winner. This year, 279 ANA members participated. In response to the question “Why did you vote for ‘Pivot’ as the ANA 2020 marketing word of the year,” representative responses were:

  • “This year has been about flexibility, and the need to knock down the walls of rigid structure and processes, to quickly move in a direction to solve the needs of the current climate (including COVID and social justice issues), which required everyone to pivot to meet these needs.”
  • “2020 was all about pivoting: marketing strategies, brand messaging, budgets, audiences, campaigns, etc. Whether for COVID or inclusion/equality, this year we saw more pivoting, zigging, and zagging than ever!”
  • “Brands were forced to exercise their agility in a way that had never happened before, and the word ‘pivot’ describes the collective strategy shifts that were necessary in 2020.”
  • “The pandemic made my team get comfortable with short-term decisions versus long-term and constantly looking at the market, competitors, and government guidance to pivot. We learned nothing is final and you need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
  • “It’s true not only from a creative standpoint that all spots had to pivot in tone and change to be relevant, but also from a production and marketing standpoint. The industry had to pivot like never before.”
  • “‘Pivot’ defines 2020 marketing. With all this world has brought upon us this year, we got a crash course in how pivoting is the only way to remain relevant.”

At the ANA, we have used the term “pivot” extensively throughout 2020. Most notably, our portfolio of events made a quick pivot from in-person to virtual. We upgraded the virtual participation experience, and these events have generated tremendous scale. The ANA’s Masters of Marketing Week, for example, had 6,470 registrations — approximately double that of our usual in-person event.

As a great current example of a pivot, when this survey was in the field, Warner Bros. announced it will be releasing all its new 2021 movies in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max, which it owns. In making this announcement, the Warner Bros. CEO, was quoted as saying, “We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions.”

Other top choices in the ANA 2020 Marketing Word of the Year voting were virtual, agility, and resiliency.

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