When the world does a 360, everything you thought you knew becomes questionable.
In the grips of a frightening pandemic, advertising might be the last thing you’re thinking about. But businesses still need to be on their toes.
You simply can’t ignore campaigns you’ve been running because, odds are, the messaging needs adjusting. And if you don’t acknowledge the new normal, you’re going to look bad. Really bad.
The Good, The Bad & The Clueless
I’ve been watching way too much television since the shelter-in-place started.. But part of it is marketing research. I’m curious as to how businesses are handling messaging during the pandemic. Some are ignoring it and doing advertising as usual. Others are either creating new ads or tweaking existing ad campaigns to reflect what’s going on in the world at the moment.
Adage took a look at 7 brands whose ads coincided with Covid-19.
Norwegian Cruise Lines stands out for horrendous timing. There’s not much else to say about it ……other than I’ll never take another cruise. Will you?
Here are a few companies doing a great job of adapting their messaging to fit the current climate:
Their commercials are reassuring, offering payment relief for Ford Credit customers. The director of U.S. marketing for Ford Motor Co. said: “It’s important to be reassuring right now and not trying to say to people ‘Rush into your car dealership for a sales event.’ ”
Nike’s new campaign focuses on social distancing and staying inside. Play inside, play for the world.” Perfect.
Hyundai replaced their previously scheduled campaign with new spots touting the Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection program which defers payments for people who recently bought or leased a car and lost their job during a certain timeframe.
Toyota’s new campaign reassures viewers that they’re “here for you now and in all the better days ahead .”
The examples above show how smart marketing teams pivot and respond during a crisis. They’re proactive and they speak to the fears and needs of viewers.
In return, we feel like these brands really give a damn. And when life returns to normal, these brands will be top of mind.
Look to the Businesses that are Marketing Smart
So what can small businesses learn from how big firms are handling their advertising campaigns during a crisis? Here are 4 key takeaways:
- Be compassionate. Don’t try to do business as usual when nothing is as usual. Empathize with your audience. Let them know you understand (and share) their fears.
- Be authentic. If you want customer loyalty, give them a reason to be loyal. People can usually see through phoniness. If your company has run some ads that ignored the tragic state of the world, acknowledge the error. Apologize and move on. We’re a very forgiving people. You’ll have another chance.
- Be trustworthy. Can customers depend on your company’s products or services? Make sure you give them a reason to trust you. This does more for brand loyalty than almost anything else. ‘
- Be creative. What can you do to help customers and potential customers notice you, and hopefully, want to give you business down the road? Start by letting them know you’re here to help. Whatever it is they’re going through, be a resource.
Sadly, many small businesses will not survive the coronavirus. So while we’re all stuck inside, now is the perfect time to do what you can to make sure yours is one that does.