We have been facing down an unprecedented global catastrophe in the form of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for what seems like an eternity at this point. It’s virtually impossible to turn on a TV, flip through a newspaper, or browse the internet without coming across references to the current pandemic much like this article itself.
This should come as no surprise due to the life-altering circumstances created by the pandemic and the world’s responses to it. COVID-19 messaging is as pervasive as the virus itself because it is something that impacts everyone. None of us can help but have the coronavirus on our minds throughout the day as we navigate our newly altered lives.
Acknowledging the Times Without Exploiting Them
It’s only natural that companies would seek to leverage current events like the coronavirus pandemic as talking points and references for their marketing. In fact, not addressing such an event at all would make the organization seem disconnected and inhuman. While using current events to broaden your reach and forge connections is a great idea, finding the right approach to those topics is imperative to ensure you cause no harm to your audience or your brand.
An Issue of Trust
Human connections are, at their core, bonds of trust. Striking the wrong tone or using current events in a predatory manner will erode the trust you have built with your audience, making it nearly impossible to form new bonds. This is especially true in our current era. According to communications firm Edelman’s recent study, 71% of participants “agree that if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.”
Putting Profit Over People
Using events like the current pandemic expressly for the purpose of promoting your products is not just tacky, it’s exploitative and can damage your brand beyond repair. Advertisements like this one from Hostess and this one from Doritos feel disingenuous and off-putting while this advertisement from Circles.Life is particularly tone-deaf. Other companies have taken to creating “heartfelt” ads that have been called out for their platitudes and sameness.
While it’s no crime to use the success of others as inspiration, becoming overly derivative is always a risk. An ad that might seem genuine and caring out of context can become warped and sickly sweet when sandwiched with multiple ads promoting the same exact approach. Capitalizing on your brand’s unique identity will help you strike the appropriate chord.
Finding Your Voice
Take Hotels.com’s COVID-19 related advertisement that does a great job of being somber and serious yet somehow comedic and light-hearted at the same time thanks to the brand’s established voice. Likewise, Nike responded quickly and simply with a message that resonated with their audience and the world at large.
While COVID-19 is a unique, historic event of immense proportions, there are lessons to learn from it that extend to all kinds of situations. Whether the crisis is global or one your organization is facing alone, communicating with consideration towards your audience is key. To avoid alienating the public, companies should acknowledge the times without trying to exploit them for personal gain.
Cardinal is here to help you connect with your audience. Contact us to learn more about our digital marketing and content creation services.
-Cardinal Marketing is a digital marketing agency located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – All Rights Reserved –