Is Advertising a Smart Investment During COVID-19?

Apr 23, 2020 | Crisis Marketing

The world turned upside down in 2020, and we’ve only just passed the first quarter. Even the captivating world of advertising and marketing has not been spared, with many of my colleagues from the industry asking, “What now? What’s appropriate? What next?”

  • Will advertising during the current COVID-19 chaos serve its purpose or will it be a waste of precious marketing dollars?
  • Should I pull my campaign off or change from its product focus to offer emotional support?
  • If my category is “non-essential,” does that mean I should stop engaging consumers?

These questions keep marketers awake at night, and me glued to my news streams.

My suggestion is simple, “Share helpful content specific to what your clients need right now.”

For some brands, the situation may be more dire than others — factories are closed, cash flow is dwindling, people are being laid off, and marketing campaigns are on hold. There is pressure on all businesses, and due to budget and economic constraints your company may really need to stop advertising. But try to avoid this, or at least limit the timeframe you’re “off the air.”

Brands need to keep advertising — even in a crisis. In fact, with clients inundated with round the clock news of COVID-19, consumers welcome ads as a form of distraction and entertainment. It gives them a certain sense of “the good old days.”

To help marketers still sitting on the fence with their advertising, here’s a checklist to take stock of the creative development process during the COVID-19 crisis.

Empathize with the Consumers’ Needs

In non-essential categories — items that consumers may not want or need during the pandemic — suspend product advertising to provide emotional support. One way you can do that is be showcasing positive values or championing solidarity and togetherness. Or simply show that you are thinking of people and are with them in these times.

Think of How the Future of “Non-Essentials” Look

Lead the charge on how the future will look with virtual cooking, make-up, skin home treatments, etcetera. So when your products are perceived as necessary, your brand and products have never been completely out of sight and out of mind of your clients.

  • New advertising content does not need to specifically reference coronavirus as awareness is high; however, it shouldn’t exploit the crisis either.
  • Ensure that new content doesn’t show behavior that is contrary to local health authority’s advice or government regulations during the pandemic.

Bring Back Old Content. It Still Works!

  • Not all content needs to be new. Old ads and footage can work just as well during the crisis as it did before.
  • The use of appropriate humor is welcome. Find your funny bone and execute it in a brand appropriate manner. (We could all use a few more laughs these days!)
  • Do not minimize the situation, even if your company is in a good spot.
  • Deliver advertising campaigns that suggest a degree of normality. Show how consumers can make the most of these times.

I hope marketing, creative and media leaders, and teams don’t lose heart. Instead, look at this phase as a comma (not a full stop) to understand, prepare, and respond for now and for the future.

In the meantime, continue to hone your craft and tell inspirational creative brand stories, because consumers want and need them — in good and especially tough times. If you would like to chat about how you can turn this time into a marketing opportunity, please reach out!

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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