Running successful advertising campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be a litmus test for brands, which are always at a risk of drawing the ire of users on social media.
India’s advertising industry is trying to solve the great puzzle of making their campaigns responsible, innovative and sensitive while not coming across as commercial or made with the intent of earning profits.
Prashant Puri, Co-Founder and CEO, Adlift, said when all eyes globally and in India are on Covid-19, the brand communication should focus on being responsible, innovative with sensitive messaging and creativity. “All these factors will help in brand recall once things get back to normal,” Puri said.
This is a time to engage with consumers and build brand loyalty and a wrong step can lead to a backlash with trolls and negative conversations.
According to Anish Varghese, CCO, Isobar, brands and agencies need to be immensely careful with their campaigns as today’s TG frowns upon opportunists.
Brands have been spreading messages on precautions against Covid-19 spread but experts say they should think beyond and do some helpful work. Supporting and appreciating the efforts of the government and other organisations could be one of them.
Kainaz Karmakar, CCO, Ogilvy West, says they should talk about the psychology of a lockdown, a communication with the emotional aspects of staying at home. “The loneliness faced by people who are living alone. The likelihood that you might become unfit, taking walks between your refrigerator and your laptop. This virus is not just asking us to be creative with our ads. It’s asking us to be creative with how we live right now. We have to unlearn basic freedoms, like stepping out for fresh air,” Karmakar said.
Awareness alone doesn’t help as various other circumstances have taken birth due to the crisis.
“Everyone knows everything and yet somehow they are not implementing it. The campaigns should be an eye opener. Our creativity has to rise to the challenge,” said Harshad Rajadhyakshya, CCO, Ogilvy West.
Brand experts say that to stand out and yet stay true to the purpose, brands should make some bold moves without thinking about the end goal (profit).
“We changed our brand’s name on our website and social media platforms. The message was Simple — stay at home, stay safe and stop the spread of Coronavirus,” said Nida Naushad, Head, Brand and Communications at Cars24.
The company’s employees supported the campaign by changing the display pictures on their social media platforms, which gave it an additional push and helped spread the word.
Making a financial contribution or offering products to the mass will help gain respect and love of consumers. “Brands may use their social media handles to communicate their good doings and amplify safety messages,” said Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist.
A change in consumer behaviour has been seen during the lockdown as people have started using digital services in a big way. Keeping this in mind, brands should re-evaluate their approach to social media marketing. A thorough social listening has to be initiated on what type of content annoys the consumer.
According to Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, Co-Founder and CEO of Gozoop, more than marketing communications, brands should create great digital communication focusing more on online customer experience.
“More brands should adapt the strategy and consider an experience-led transformation with the creative use of digital, to be up on the curve on similar situations,” Varghese said.
Samit Sinha, Founder, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said that any messaging from brands during this period that is not aimed at addressing people’s hardships, or at least severe inconveniences, with concrete solutions, would not just be a waste of money, but worse, could do long-term damage to the image of the brand due to perceived insensitivity.
“When we eventually reach normalcy but are still carrying the scars of the recent past, we may witness a re-prioritisation of people’s needs and wants. The brands will need to acknowledge and understand the likely change in the consumer’s psyche and modify their messages accordingly. The brands that are most sensitive to this change and can adapt the quickest, will be the ones that will benefit the most,” Sinha said.