Stay in state of shock or take advantage of the crisis?

by Apr 30, 2020

What companies learn about advertising during a crisis.

Covid-19 has and will continue to present us with great challenges. But is it morally reprehensible not only to endure the crisis, but also to see it as an opportunity, loosely based on a quote that Winston Churchill is said to have said during the Second World War: 

„Never let a good crisis go to waste!“

While most companies went into shock after the lockdown and the strict measures imposed by the federal government to contain the new virus immediately stopped their advertising, be it analogue or digital. 

Whether summer fashion or vacation destinations, the marketers remained stubborn with advertising that had already been planned, often on the grounds that next summer will definitely come, by then we will have overcome the crisis. 

Unfortunately, marketing departments and companies were quickly able to see themselves that this advertising did not pay off. When people around the world in the hardest hit countries had to stay at home for the coming months; When events, parties, vacations, visits to friends, even the restaurants remained closed for the evening. 

The result: companies terminated contracts with influencers, cut advertising budgets and systematically switched off digital advertising. Out of fear of the “shit storm”, out of sheer caution in order to save costs during this time or simply because you didn't know how to advertise in this sensitive phase.
Not adapting and acting as if nothing had happened, certainly didn't work. 

Facebook already experienced an unprecedented downturn in its advertising business in March and, as a result, Facebook advertising costs reduced. 

This actually created the perfect opportunity for companies that still had an advertising budget at their disposal to advertise at this time and to increase their reach via Facebook.

Because during this time you could reach a lot more people than usual.
Most of the people who did not work in the so-called systemically important professions had to stay at home and had an endless amount of time to consume content, spread over the whole day.  

Some companies, therefore, ventured out of their cover and took advantage of the cheap advertising rates, some with success, some not.

Including health and safety advice however in every ad campaign, where even during a pet food commercial you were told several times to "please stay at home" as if you had not understood the measures put in place by most jurisdictions across the world. Doing this did not achieve them the marketing success they were hoping for. 

On the other hand, brands that have shown themselves to be sensitive during the crisis and, for example, have shared positive contributions, whether encouragement, donations or aid campaigns for communities and employees on the social platforms. 

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) was successful even before the corona crisis with a view to environmental protection and sustainability in companies as a complex of topics for advertising. 

During this time, helpfulness and compassion were required, the most successful post in connection with the corona virus, both on Facebook and Instagram, came from the Brazilian brewery Ambev, which used its production lines to manufacture 500,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for local hospitals. 

One of the most successful Instagram posts in Europe came from the Italian car manufacturer Ferrari, which pledged 10 million euros to support the Italians during the crisis. But Bugatti's posts were also successful and were rated positively by the target group, even though the company donated no money, but “only” sympathy. 

Another successful posting which grew its perceived sympathy and follower base was the British low-cost chain Home Bargains, which announced a £ 30 million fund to support its employees, and the American company Skrewball Whiskey, which had pledged to serve and donate to the bartenders in the United States. 

So, during that time, many brands focused on philanthropy and “feel good” news in order to continue marketing without compromising their image. 

Some now rely on influencers again to strike the right note.
"Brands are very sensitive right now," said Vickie Segar, founder of influencer marketing company Village.
“When you work with influencers, they take a product and place it into their living context. The context of the influencers at this moment is that they are stuck at home. " 

That creates closeness because everyone is in the same boat. 

But the crisis surrounding the novel viral disease remains dynamic, what applies today can be discarded next week. Marketers still need to listen carefully: how is the target audience doing, how is the customer feeling?

Data from parts of Asia where the virus has receded is already showing that advertising is already recovering, as many of the workplaces have reopened and more advertising is being shown, Facebook has now announced.

The same can be expected from us in the near future, in the cautious easing phase, when more people will go from the home office to the office again, when schools and daycare centers open, when restaurants, cafés and pubs open their doors and soon also hotels are allowed to resume operations, user behavior will change again. More companies will advertise again to lure customers into their stores and advertising costs will rise. 

And again the question arises how to advertise?
The acute phase of the pandemic initially seems to be over; in addition to helpfulness, solidarity and compassion, product advertising will once again be the focus in the coming weeks. Now increasingly with the approval of customers who would like to hear and see something different again.
And ultimately, it is also about companies being able to keep their heads above water in order to save themselves through the crisis.
Everything is still far from "normal". And even the “new normal” remains a challenge and demands creative ideas and forms of advertising.
Maybe from now on regarding the enhanced service concept in advertising:

-Give your customers guidelines on how the new hygiene measures will be implemented in your business.
- Inform your target group about the new rules, in each federal state the measures are adapted to the infection rate and are therefore partly different.
-Inform about your (new) opening times and create trust among particularly cautious customers.
- Share a list of frequently asked questions with the appropriate answers (FAQ’s).
-Give small incentives to attract customers to your stores.
-Start promotions: after weeks of #stayhome maybe #goouthavefun or #youderservetobehappy

Dreaming is allowed, advertising can help.

If you haven't already stayed in contact with your customers via social media and digital advertising campaigns, draw attention to yourself again now and make the first step easier for your customers. Some will come to you anyway and look forward to the variety, others have to be encouraged first, as they are still cautious or put off by the many measures.