With no peak currently in sight, the coronavirus pandemic is already destined to go down as one of the worst economic crises in history. I recently explored how the pandemic, even in its earlier stages, has uprooted and redefined the marketing industry — from adapted targeting methods to the canceled industry conventions.
However, in the pandemic’s recent weeks, brand marketers are rising to prominence in a new way: through advocacy. The virus has led to new trends in consumer behavior, which itself has warranted creative new ways to keep consumers engaged, informed, and above all valued during what has been a sensitive, frightening time.
Given the widespread and all-encompassing nature of the coronavirus, brands have been forced to grapple with an indefinitely altered state of reality — both for themselves as functional corporate entities and for their consumers, who may be engaging with their ad content in new ways as a result of the pandemic. Many ads have embraced this new reality first and foremost, changing their language and overall theme to be both empathetic and focused on the current greater good.
This process starts with keeping audiences informed of the brand’s handling of the virus; what is it doing to cope with the pandemic? How are operations going to be managed to promote safety? From here, many brands have used their own experiences with the pandemic as a jumping off point for a key overarching message: they are here to help — be it through increased purchasing flexibility, new options to reflect stay-at-home policies, or additional emphasis on customer service and communication. The ultimate goal, in this sense, is to maintain as much continuity as possible while adapting as consumer needs evolve.
Transcending the norm
Perhaps the most profound way brands are helping out is through a total shift from industry norms. Typically, an ad campaign strives to inspire and directly target audiences to engage with a service or product, but now, many brand communications are focused on reaching across industry lines, expressing support for medical professionals and encouraging the country’s workforce to remain at home. Crocs, Mother, and Virgin Media are just a few major brands taking this approach during the pandemic.
These efforts aim to nurture existing relationships while addressing the broader issues at play, and as the pandemic continues, they will only continue to exemplify a brand new norm for the marketing industry — and for the professional world in general.