Marketing During Coronavirus

It’s interesting to see how companies and brands are adjusting their marketing during this pandemic. Because COVID-19 has taken over the whole world, it’s affecting so much. I’d think every single company in the world has been affected in some way, even if it’s resulted in something manageable like working from home.

When the Coronavirus started picking up weeks ago, companies were quick to send out informational emails to people on their mailing lists and utilize social media to get quick messages out. Of course, this got meme’d. I saw one TikTok of a guy mocking the multitude of emails coming from relevant brands like Purell to irrelevant ones like Frosted Flakes. (I searched for an hour to find said TikTok and link it here but I couldn’t find it again).

As someone who worked in marketing, I understand the need to jump on trends and do things in a timely way. I understand that even companies like Frosted Flakes feel the need to email their clients and customers as well, even if cereal is really no one’s concern these days and they know it. You just gotta say it once and be done.

You Just Gotta Do What Feels Right GIF.

But then I started seeing Corona-related TV commercials. I don’t mind the food ones where the restaurant chains let people know they still do drive-through or online orders because that’s valid information.

It’s the other ones that have me conflicted. Some just rub me the wrong way. The other day I saw a commercial from a car brand and it said something along the lines of “We originally bought this ad slot to promote our new [insert car name here], but instead we’re using this time to thank all the frontline workers who are keeping us safe during these trying times.” That’s nice and all, but what do they want, a pat on the back for that selflessness? The truth is, they didn’t use their ad slot to promote their cars because no one is buying cars right now.

It would have been more effective if they instead highlighted what they were doing for the community in these trying times. Any donations? Any help? If you really want that brand awareness (because that usually is the main goal of commercials) and want to use that ad space for good, show something good and make us appreciate you.

You Want My Respect Earn It gif.

Of course, that’s the eternal conundrum rich people face. They don’t want to steal focus but they also don’t want the public to think they do nothing. It’s why there are anonymous donations that end up being Taylor Swift two years later. But I feel like in these dire times, the million dollar companies and the billionaires need to be stepping up. I think people would love to give praise and respect to those who help in ways that really matter, not a cutesy celeb sing-along.

The other thing that has me a little conflicted is the regular business-as-usual ads. Of course companies that can still produce marketing content are doing so. The question I’ve been thinking about a lot is: should they? Should companies still try and sell stuff right now? Especially stuff people don’t really need during this time like jewelry or candles or throw pillows. It just feels weird to know that millions of people applied for unemployment in the past month and yet companies are still trying to get their money. I mean, obviously people are free to do what they want with their money, and obviously sales are how employees get paid, and obviously I feel for the self employed/entrepreneurs, but a little part of me just feels that it’s all so unnecessary and weird during a health crisis. These are unprecedented times so there is no clear right or wrong, and I know in the grand scheme of things, some Facebook ad for fancy headphones or something isn’t a big deal and isn’t inherently wrong at all.

Its Complicated GIF.

As someone in the marketing world, it’s interesting to me to see how things are changing and how companies are adapting and the public’s perception is perhaps changing too.

I don’t really have a point here, I’m just more reflecting on some things I’ve seen. I’d love to know your thoughts on the matter. Are you as conflicted as I am about it all? Is there a company whose pandemic marketing you admire/appreciate?


That’s all for now!


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3 thoughts on “Marketing During Coronavirus

  1. We went through this conundrum trying to decide whether to postpone our brand awareness campaign that was supposed to launch at the end of March. We ended up going ahead with ours, but a lot of companies in my industry have pared their ads way down to only focus on essentials. We are an essential industry and my area hasn’t been hit too hard yet with the virus so it has validated the go-ahead decision a little bit. Interesting topic as always!!

    • It’s good that there was thought behind the decision. And essential services/industries kind of get a pass to some extent anyway.
      The company I used to work for was also somewhat essential and I often wonder what I would have been doing if I was still there.

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