How well a brand adapts during a crisis will impact how well a brand emerges in the future.

Advertising Trends show…

Initial weeks/months, many advertisers pulling back, changing messaging and creating pivot strategies.

Advertising spending is projected to decrease 15-20% or more in Q2 2020, but then will begin to rise closer to flat in Q3 and then rise again in Q4.

Largest cutbacks in advertising are in outdoor and radio.


Media Usage changes…

During stay at home orders, there is a surge in usage of streaming services, increased news consumption and increased use of digital media including more search volume and social media.

While radio listening is down somewhat with stay at home orders, there is increased listening to news/talk formats, public radio and classical music.  There is also decreased listening to digital audio platforms such as Pandora and Spotify.

Consumers are using digital services in new ways and engaging in different types of online activities for the first time, such as online purchasing.

TV is most relied upon for Corona virus news, followed by social media and then government websites.


Strategies to consider…

Important for strong brands to maintain awareness with a relevant message in these times.  With the right message, now is actually a good time to advertise if possible as there is less clutter.

Many studies show that going dark with advertising even during a crisis or economic downturn has resulted in significant decline in awareness, trial and % preference or “brand I would purchase most often”.

Objectives should shift from performance to awareness.

Most trusted channels for communication include email (communicating with most loyal customers), earned media and websites.

Suggested strategies include

  • Write a letter to employees and customers
  • Feature letter prominently on your website, Facebook page or other social media
  • Long form video to be used on website, social and other media
  • Continue to be the face/voice of your business during this time- build loyalty and show empathy as we’re all in this together

Messaging Strategies need to change too…

Changing messages is very important to recognize and show empathy in the situation.  Do not present in marketing “business as usual”.   Messages should focus on solving versus selling.  Key recommendations include:

Show compassion and empathy for your customers and community members. Acknowledge your compliance with local, state and national mandates/recommendations.

  • COVID-19 (corona virus) has affected local consumers and businesses equally. Show empathy and understanding of the outbreak’s effects on your community and customers/clients.
  • Be sensitive to apprehensive consumers; focus advertising around their needs. Being there for them aids in building deeper relationships.
  • Think creatively – as people are home 24/7 – how can your products/services best support their focus on family, connecting with friends, their new home-work life balance, staying in touch with those in their relationship circles How can you bring peace, support, connection for all impacted.

Position your business as supportive and exercising the necessary precautions.  Advertising during the outbreak should be focused on keeping consumers safe rather than centered on your actions.

  • For example, “When you need us, we’re here for you. Call us, text, visit us online or in-store, and know that we continue to take every recommended health/hygiene effort at our locations to keep you safe.”

Provide common sense tips and information related to your business on your website and in your social media posts.

  • There is an opportunity to strengthen brand loyalty by doing the right thing when you have the expertise/services/products they need.

Community service advertising should be low priority during the outbreak.  Center your advertising on information and empathy rather than your normal community service efforts.

For new productions, practice social distancing in any shots with more than 1 person.

  • Lead by example – instead of using emotionally resonant shots that feature physical touch (handshakes, for example), now is the time to focus on other shots that communicate the same thing (Smiles, nods etc.). Re-edit current video or create new ones. Manage carefully both visual and copy messaging/allow spots to be editable and revised easily as business environments change.