Conventional wisdom would advise brands to not associate themselves with a health crisis and cut all marketing and communication efforts. Yet, brands nowadays are barely even inline with these beliefs. Curated ME assesses the kind of advertising that will help brands stay top of mind for consumers post the global pandemic.
The advertising industry is ever ready to adjust their strategies when a new trend emerges. This allows brands to stay relevant to its consumers at all times; but it can become slightly tricky when an unexpected crisis arises.
Beginning every new year, predictions are made about the economy and where it is headed – giving businesses a head start on what to expect. However, a global health emergency was definitely not in the books. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has left businesses shaken. The ideal scenario when the economy is in trouble is to save money wherever possible.
For most businesses, this means cutting down on their marcomm budgets, particularly ad spending. Media and marketing agencies surveyed in the US and UK revealed that the current situation has forced them to either delay or cancel upcoming campaigns altogether.
Although this move could be a temporary solution, going dark right now could have a long-term impact on brands. Past studies have revealed that brands that make more noise during a recession, tend to increase their sales and have higher growth, while those who stay quiet lose out on these gains.
Yet, would consumers be on board with this ideology? According to the Global Web Index (GWI), there was a split between individuals who either agreed or felt neutral about the fact that brands should continue advertising as normal, with only a few scoring on the disagreement scale. Similarly, Twitter spoke to its US audience to know how they felt about advertising during COVID-19. 64% mentioned that brands should continue advertising their products as normal.
Perhaps advertising as ‘normal’ wouldn’t completely rest with consumers though, as only 7% from the same study agreed that brands should use their normal tone of voice while advertising. Edelman’s Trust Barometer indicated that around 8 in 10 consumers want brands to focus advertising on how their products and services can help individuals cope during this time of crisis and advertise in a way that shows they are aware of the crisis and how it is impacting lives.
Thus, communication should shift from creating sales to creating relationships with consumers. The basis of this should rest on portraying support for the community, for the frontline workers and adding a pinch of safety and positivity. However, this does not mean resorting to humor to send a message across. Some industries that are impacted more than others are embracing a more innovative approach of reaching out to their customers. Retails brands L’Oréal, Essity and Reckitt Benckiser launched a campaign that signified the value of shopping responsibly, while Nissan’s campaign in UAE echoed an emotional message to its consumers, respecting the initiative of ‘Staying at home’ ‘until we meet again.’
Furthermore, the United Nations’ are requesting creatives and content creators to share messages that can essentially help ‘flatten the curve’ reflecting social distancing, good hygiene, and other types of precautionary measures.
Curated ME’s Take:
COVID-19 poses a challenge to brands as consumer sensitivity becomes a top priority and should be dealt with cautiously. Marketing and communication efforts during this period will be remembered beyond the crisis and can either make or break the brand. It is necessary for brands to identify exactly what resonates with consumers through prior testing of campaigns, gaining insight into what will actually work.