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In-depth: The conundrum of brand communication in the times of coronavirus

Many advertisers are adjusting their messaging in view of the Covid-19 outbreak as they try to focus on providing sensitive and clear communication. BestMediaInfo.com finds out how brands should be communicating with internal and external stakeholders during this time of crisis

It's very rare when Twitter gives a piece of advice to advertisers. Last week, however, the social media platform had to come out with an advice: “This is not a ‘marketing opportunity."

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Referring to the coronavirus crisis, the microblogging platform said it was not another marketing opportunity asked advertisers to very correct and sincere in their communication.

Marketing and communication during the time of coronavirus is a very tricky business for brands and agencies. Social media platforms are witnessing a massive surge in coronavirus conversations, which is mostly unverified misinformation.

So what's the right way for brands to communicate and market during this period? Harish Bijoor, Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., suggested brands should stay sensitive. “Those that give in to marketing vulturism will suffer in the long term,” he said.

Social media platforms are now taking steps to promote only authoritative voices. 

Experts say that brands need to set up responsible voices. Companies in the travel and hospitality industry should update consumers about the status of flights and hotels. Retailers need to inform the public that's no shortage of essential commodities and hence, no need to panic. And companies that have sanitation and hygiene products should tell the public how to use them effectively.  

Jagdeep Kapoor

“The responsibility of all good brands would be to spread awareness about health and hygiene in whichever way they can in association what product or service they offer. Brands need to be more caring and should bear with time. Brands will attract more customers if they are more responsible and customers might not trust those that are not doing any marketing campaign and halting everything,” said Jagdeep Kapoor, Director of Samsika Marketing Consultants. 

Mukesh Mishra

Experts also suggest it's time for brands to focus on facts more than creativity. Mukesh Mishra, Marketing Head, Healthcare, Dabur, explained how the brand is running a series of awareness campaigns across digital platforms, social media and mainstream media to educate the public about how to keep themselves safe from the virus. It is also organising a Q&A session with ayurvedic doctors on digital media platforms to address their queries regarding the virus and how to keep their families protected from it.

Businesses across the globe are scrambling to handle the crisis emerging due to the spread of the virus. According to reports, the global GDP is likely to take a beating because of the reduction in economic activity.

As brands struggle to minimise the impact on their sales, communication (both through advertising and press) has become even more imminent. In China, many brands have already paused their marketing initiatives and ad spend as they figure out a way to engage with customers amid the coronavirus outbreak. Experts suggest that isn't the right way either.

Ramesh Narayan

Ramesh Narayan, Founder, Canco Advertising, said that in this crisis, brands should attempt to actually spread facts and not fear in their communication strategies, with no change in their marketing strategies.

“There is so much confusion and uncertainty, information is overloaded on customers nowadays. I don’t expect any change in a brand’s marketing strategies. Everyone is lying low to assess the situation. It is almost impossible for the brands to re-work their well-planned approaches overnight,” he added.

MVS Murthy

In the case of Tata Mutual Fund, MVS Murthy, Head Marketing, Digital and Corporate Communication, said the brand is educating and encouraging investors to stay invested. The brand is sharing educative content to encouraging everyone to stay put and top up more.


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