Toppled Over, Not Tipped.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

2020 has indeed been a year of reckoning. With the pandemic and a gamut of racial injustice issues, we, as a society, have reached beyond the tipping point. Over the last few years, we have seen demonstrations across the country for many social injustice and violence issues, but this year is just different. As we, Americans, organized in groups to push for change, brands have also stepped up to the plate. Rather than releasing generic statements condemning racial injustice and violence to “check the box,” companies are outlining plans of action to improve their diversity and inclusion initiatives and to actively supporting organizations and the movements.

At Noetic, we use our values as a guiding light for everything we do. As with the rest of the country, after Breonna Taylor’s murder in March and George Floyd’s murder in May, we knew we needed to do more. We leaned into our values of Help First, Curious Spirit, Growth-Minded, and Setting the Bar High to explore how we could further our efforts and impact. As a company, we decided to focus on supporting Embrace Race, an organization dedicated to educating children and adults of all colors to be inclusive. Their four goals are:

  • Nurture resilience in children of color
  • Nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes
  • Raise kids who think critically about racial inequity
  • Support a movement of kid and adult racial justice advocates for all children

Aligning with our values, we decided to partner with Embrace Race to help amplify their message and do our part to educate ourselves to be better advocates. In an interview with CNN, Embrace Race’s founders Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas discuss how “racial bias and inequity is systemic and not simply about interpersonal interaction; we also create the systems. If you want to create better systems, you need to nurture better agents.” Racism isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you learn from those around you consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and unintentionally.

As part of our commitment to Embrace Race and the Black Lives Matter movement, Noetic has chosen to support its pursuit of “ensuring our next generation is brave, informed, and thoughtful about Race.” By becoming active volunteers and further educating ourselves around this vital work, we hope to further the dialog and progress both at Noetic and on behalf of our trusted partners.

Whether it’s reading a book, attending a webinar, listening to and learning from someone’s experiences, donating, volunteering, or opening a dialogue with our colleagues, friends, and families, we can each make an impact. We, at Noetic, look forward to continuing to learn more about this important cause as we work together to Topple Over too many years of injustice, inequity and, bias. 


Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A Series highlights Tina Bagapor-O’Harrow, ZIPS Dry Cleaner’s Franchise organization VP of Marketing. ZIPS is a dry-cleaning company with an owner-operator model. Tina works with its valued franchisees, advertising agencies, and in-house team to ensure marketing and advertising efforts are most effective. As ZIPS has faced a sharp decline in customers’ ability to engage with them, Tina shares her insights on how they have adapted in this unusual climate.

Respond, recover, then re-emerge. With business whose low point represented an 80% decline, ZIPS set a three-phase effort to adapt: response, recovery, re-emergence. ZIPS is not a business that could convert to a completely online model given the inherent physicality of the service they provide. Given the dip in customer traffic and sales that started in spring 2020, ZIPS first needed to downsize staff and eliminate other variable and fixed costs to help its owner-operators manage in a dynamic new economy.

Recovery means testing and learning efforts in safety. ZIPS tested various approaches to see what customer directed approaches resonated the best. Curbside drop off, delivery, and easy drop options gave customers more low-touch solutions. Contracting with state and regional businesses in need of cleaning including fire and rescue and law enforcement presented additional opportunities. They taught ZIPS operators how to look for and pursue B-2-B opportunities.

New campaigns provided focus and relevant reasons to clean. The “Commitment to Clean” campaign helped customers understand ZIPS was taking health guidance seriously in-store and that dry cleaning kills 99% of viruses and bacteria on garments. ZIPS also promoted cleaning household items such as comforters and pillows to increase the level of safety in customer homes.

Ramping up digital and enhancing customer experience. While ZIPS could not convert completely to online, digital efforts were employed as a way to open accounts, make store selection, and text to plan ahead for drop-offs and pickups.

Innovate to re-emerge. ZIPS has launched Laundry by ZIPS, a new system-wide wash and fold service. This effort coincides with back to school, where families are encouraged to take back their time.  Creative focuses on new home working and schooling and more casual scenarios.  With constrained marketing dollars, ZIPS stood-up an in-house agency, backed primarily by PPP,  to create new sub-brands and build and deploy new campaigns.

Have a roadmap and adjust as you need. Being resilient and innovative is like riding a wave: stay in the tube, sense the changes, stay calm and focused, and make adjustments as needed. It will feel chaotic and may change quickly. Try to harness the adrenalin and navigate the ride! At the time of publication, ZIPS has been able to regain more lost ground. Still 35% off of last year’s number, they are hopeful that moving with alacrity and being open to change has helped navigate this unprecedented business interruption.  

Think about the long-term to sustain in the new reality. Leaders and marketers need to ask themselves: What models, products and needs do you have, or could you build to thrive within this constrained environment?

Learn more about ZIPS here. 

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