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How Advertising Has Changed During the Coronavirus

Updated: May 20, 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has drastically changed how we live our day to day, from the way we shop to the way we conduct business. How does this affect advertising though?

When trying to adjust to the new normal we have to know what is socially acceptable; shaking hands, being close to people while waiting in line, touching our faces, these are all examples of what used to be acceptable. CDC guidelines suggest that people should be 6 feet away from each other, we should avoid touching our faces, and wear face coverings when you are around others.

As advertisers, we need to be conscientious when we advertise our product or service. What used to be acceptable is now no longer.

What is Acceptable?

Being your authentic self and remaining true to your vision and values, believe it or not. Our founder, Jason Fishman, has been quoted saying, “Authenticity is always unique, and, people always connect to authenticity.”

So what does authenticity look like as a brand?

In normal conditions, that could be the founder’s story, or user testimonials, a solid case study, or an informational interview video. With content becoming so personal, and personalities developing so much high-end content, the boundaries are being pushed everywhere.

But, during a pandemic? What are the human approaches a brand can use to connect?

Sounding hopeful and sympathetic is acceptable and helps connect with your audience. Many brands have turned their advertising campaigns toward thanking those involved on the frontlines such as healthcare workers, police, fire departments, medics, grocery store workers, etc.

Cause marketing is always a good idea for brands because people can get behind a cause and it’s narrative faster than they can a brand. Why? The cause is committed to good beyond profit and there’s something in that commitment that pulls at the heartstrings of average people. We all want a world that works for everyone, even if we don’t think of it that way.

Losing the cold exterior as a business isn’t easy. But it is key to your survival in this trying time.

Everyone is going through the same thing and as companies, we need to connect with our audience and let them know that we are feeling the same emotion as them. As companies, we have a big following and we want to encourage safe behavior such as social distancing, practicing good hygiene, and following the CDC guidelines. We also want to encourage enjoying life, being active, connecting in the ways we can, and sometimes that means buying stuff.

If you can paint your offer into the new life in the new world in a compelling and compliant way, people will connect.

Once the country starts letting businesses reopen we want to be proactive and still encourage people to take steps to keep themselves healthy. It would also be a wise idea to alter or remove any ads that could cause your customers to be upset.

What is Not Acceptable?

Definitely what you want to stay away from is encouraging mass gatherings, not using personal protective equipment (PPE), or following CDC guidelines. You will want to use extreme caution and use common sense when advertising your product or service. This is a hard and emotional time for everybody and you would want to keep that in mind.

People could get easily offended if you are advertising people partying or being in close contact with each other. It is best to look at your ads currently running and determine if it is still acceptable, many companies have been pulling their ads since they were pre-pandemic and didn’t need to follow the social distancing guidelines.

A good example of something that is no longer socially acceptable is, KFC using their slogan “It’s finger-lickin’ good!” obviously with a nationwide pandemic this is not a good idea to advertise to your customers to lick your fingers. KFC has pulled its ads that consist of this slogan, for the time being, since it is not socially acceptable.

What the future looks like:

After everything is going back to “normal” advertising will change. People don’t want to see ads of people partying or being intimate, they want to see people wearing masks and remaining social distancing.

Filming new ads will look different with fewer people helping to shoot the ads since it is no longer acceptable to have many people in one space.

Currently, companies are looking at ways to repurpose old footage to create new ads so they don't have to bring people together. Media production around the world has ground to a halt while animated ads, which can be produced by remote teams, have skyrocketed.

Another option is to look into digital media and creating ads that don’t require a team of people. In the end, we are all in this together and we want to create a message that brings hope and joy to the world. It’s no longer about our products and services it’s about how we care for our customers.

At DNA we like to say that, “people connect with brands on a human level.” There’s never been a better time to be more human as a brand. We hope these tips helped. If you’ve got other tips on how to advertise wisely during a global pandemic, feel free to add a comment or shoot us an email. And, if you have a question on the topic, drop those in as well.

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