Associations step up to provide help during COVID crisis

The Message is looking for stories about how the industry is adapting to the COVID pandemic. Please contact David Brown or Chris Powell with any other examples or suggestions—

With Canadian businesses now approaching week two of the COVID crisis, some of the industry’s leading associations have responded with new resources and initiatives.

The Canadian Agency Network (tCAN), for example, says that its members will offer free communications advice to businesses during the crisis. The association is comprised of 24 independent agencies from across the country.

“Businesses large and small and across all industries are feeling the economic threat this crisis brings,” said Frank Palmer, chairman of tCAN, and long-time head of DDB in Canada. “The tCAN family of agencies felt that we could provide some relief by lending our expertise in marketing and advertising to those who are uncertain about how to weather this storm.”

Any interested marketers can be connected to a member agency at The Canadian Agency Network website.


On Tuesday, the Institute of Communications Agencies released its “Guiding Principles” for the COVID pandemic.

The 10-point action plan is a “call to action for the agency sector to put our people first by protecting their jobs and well-being, to help our clients pivot in uncertain times to continue to serve customers and to support our supply chain that depends on our sector to keep operating.” The ICA is also offering all of its communications and support to non-members.

Among the action items on the ICA list:

  • It is asking for the Association of Canadian Advertiser members to reduce payment terms with agencies;
  • Through its membership in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, ICA will provide access to weekly briefings from the World Health Organization and information on government funding initiatives and how to access them;
  • It will provide “advice and counsel” about managing challenges such as salary decreases, shorter hours, borrowing options, rent payment negotiations and access to government support.

It has also created a special COVID section on its website for information and resources related to the sector. The full action plan and COVID hub can be accessed from the ICA website.


On Wednesday the Canadian Media Directors’ Council launched a resource centre for members with industry related news, virtual events, insights and tools relating to the pandemic.

“Now more than ever, the Canadian media industry needs to rally together and prove its resilience through these unprecedented times,” said CMDC president Shannon Lewis in a statement informing members about the new resource centre. “In a time of uncertainty, many of our members may find themselves asking: what’s next? To this, the CMDC is working with industry partners to listen and support our media, advertising and marketing community.”

The resource centre includes links to news articles, research about industry related trends and guidance for how people can manage the elevated levels of anxiety and stress that come with a crisis like COVID. The CMDC COVID hub can be accessed here.


David Brown