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Advertising During Covid 19: Branding

Advertising During Covid 19: Branding

What began as uncharted waters has now evolved into what some are calling the “new normal.” Covid 19 has single handedly shifted our entire planet to new means of surviving, living, talking, learning, loving, and consuming. Everything we do now is different (someway, somehow). 

We’re now approaching the end of the third month and we’re still at home. This was not planned nor expected nor understood, yet we have been forced to adapt in attempt to overcome. We have learned new ways to interact with loved ones, coworkers, educators, and leaders. We have learned new ways to send and receive resources and information. We have learned how to treat our health and our planet more kindly. 

And here at Innovate, we have learned how to navigate the advertising industry in a way that caters to the times. 

During a one week span, 90% of our advertisers paused their campaigns due to the uncertainty of Covid 19. And as information on the new reality began to become available, they slowly trickled back in with a new approach. And we are not the only company seeing this drop off and shift. 

 

How Covid 19 has Affected the Ad Industry

The global economy is estimated to suffer $2.7 trillion loss due to the coronavirus. And according to Statista, the ad industry was estimated to experience a $26 billion loss as early as March 2020. 

Furthermore, professionals are expecting ad spend declines up to 50% across all channels. For example, traditional out-of-home advertising is predicted to be impacted the most with a 51% ad spend decline, while digital media is estimated around 40%, and social media and paid search at 33% and 30% decline, respectively.

Though these statistics may seem daunting, there are ways we can work around the pandemic in a way that benefits our consumers and our advertisers. The central point of our digital marketing efforts during Covid 19 is that everybody is spending most of their previously busy time, at home, which means that more people are in need of digital media outlets for all of their needs, practical and leisure. 

A study showed that 45% of global consumers are spending more time on social media. Similarly, there was a 26% increase in online video streaming and a significant increase in online gaming traffic and online food and essential good delivery. This means that there is still a huge market to advertise to via social media and online platforms. 

Not only do advertisers have a unique opportunity to reach more people from their homes, but they also have an opportunity to redirect their messaging and make an impact as a brand. Now, not all brands will be able to adapt to the times, such as hotel and airline companies. But for the most part, brands are fully capable of conforming to the state of Covid 19. 

If you’re asking yourself how to redirect your brand’s campaign, think first with empathy, considering what people are going through: the anxiety, fear, isolation, lack of routine. Jason Sperling, chief of the creative development for the RPA firm in Santa Monica expresses that “people want to see the soul of the brands. They want to feel comfort.” Here lies a huge opportunity for your ads to show customers that you are more than a product, which will last longer in viewers’ memory than any other ad. 

We know this because studies show that on average, coronavirus ads scored 18% higher on relevance than the industry norm, 11% higher on likability and 12% higher on information.  However, the study also showed that viewers can sniff out a surface level Covid 19 ad in a heartbeat. Consumers want to know what your brand is doing to help or give back.

Furthermore, the average “likability” score of ads that mention COVID-19 has been 11% higher than the industry average, earning a spot in the same league as Super Bowl ads in terms of effectiveness. 

And if you’re wondering what these Covid 19 conscious ads look like in real time by real brands, we’re here to show you a few examples of brands that were able to transform their ad campaigns to something meaningful, helpful, and impactful. 

 

Ad Campaigns Doing it Right:

Guinness 

Guinness was one of the first brands to address the coronavirus head-on. Before St. Patrick’s Day, the company released a campaign that redirecting the celebrations in light of Covid 19 safety guidelines. 

 

Motor City 

On March 31st, the Doner ad agency released “When the Motor Stops,” a black and white desolate street landmarks of Detroit. The narrator states, “Here, we don’t stop in the name of fear, here, we stop in the name of love.” 

 

Apple 

Apple served a new pandemic inspired ad in April titled “Creativity Goes On.” The commercial aims to be relatable to its viewers new experience in lockdown, showing scenes of people, famous and unknown, making things — very cool things — as they’re in quarantine. 

 

Mcdonald’s 

Mcdonalds skipped all the tricks and put out a text-only ad that reassured their customers that they were still there to serve them through this difficult time. They highlight the phrase “we will still be here to take your order.”

 

Uber

Uber, a company that may be impacted the most during lockdown, showed it’s support of their viewers in their “Thank You for Not Riding” campaign. The ad urges millions of riders to stay home, while simultaneously promising to support healthcare workers, feed first responders, help local communities, and more. 

 

California Community Colleges

Oculu’s client, California Community Colleges, realized that lockdown would result in students having to learn online from home. So, we served them a text-only ad, similar to the aforementioned Mcdonald’s ad, letting students know that the organization is there to help them every step of the way, offering online resources to help maneuver a new method of learning.


Like the common saying, “art imitates life,” we see here that ads must imitate life as well. Though the advertising industry is suffering great monetary losses, we now have the opportunity to reach our customers like we never have before, making our brand message hit closer to home and stay there.