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Companies’ Covid-19 response will be remembered for years, says advertising boss

Wendy Clark is the new chief executive at Dentsu Aegis Network.

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Wendy Clark took over earlier this week (Dentsu Aegis/PA)

Wendy Clark took over earlier this week (Dentsu Aegis/PA)

Wendy Clark took over earlier this week (Dentsu Aegis/PA)

Companies could be judged on their responses to the coronavirus crisis for years to come, one of the world’s top advertising bosses has said.

Wendy Clark, who took over at Dentsu Aegis earlier this week, said that businesses need to show customers they are responsible as communities deal with the pandemic.

Customers “want to know [these brands] have empathy and that they are treating their associates well and that they are making steps and strides to improve communities,” she told the PA News Agency.

Ms Clark pointed to a beer company that is allowing customers to tip its bartenders while they are unable to serve in bars across the world as an innovative example.

And I think that consumers can smell that instantly when you're just putting out flowery languageWendy Clark

“Those are the types of moves that will be remembered,” she said.

Businesses are facing some of the biggest challenges ever in peacetime as the Covid-19 pandemic forces closures across the globe.

Millions of jobs have been lost across the world in the past weeks, putting both businesses and employees in a tough spot.

“I think this is an incredible moment for brands and companies to help remind us of kinder, gentler actions,” Ms Clark told PA.

She stressed that “action is really key” as customers will see straight through empty words.

“This is not about wrapping paper. This is really much more about the action that you’re taking. And I think that consumers can smell that instantly when you’re just putting out flowery language, but there’s no real action behind it,” Ms Clark said.

Ms Clark took over at Dentsu Aegis Network, one of the world’s largest digital marketing communications companies, after two years at advertising giant DDB.

Before that she spent seven years at Coca-Cola.

“Wendy will join us as the world is emerging from a period of unprecedented challenges,” said Dentsu Aegis chairman Tim Andree.

She will run a company which made more than 177 acquisitions in the past six years.

PA