A strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing what to create, post and when. As fear looms all over due to the coronavirus crisis, brand campaigns are more about spreading awareness about social distancing and personal hygiene protocols, which often leads to anxiety and are not very positive. As India reaches the third week of the countrywide lockdown, the communication still looks very sombre and not interestingly engaging.
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, earlier, Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands India, said brands and agencies must do different things, apart from creating communication around coronavirus, as people are sick and tired of similar and repeated messaging. “Little things of joy should be the focus of campaigns and brands should stay away from coronavirus-related stuff,” Sinha said.
Experts said that the necessary element to positive campaigns is happiness. If the messaging is not putting a smile on someone’s face, then it’s not exactly positive. The take-away should be a ‘good feeling’ or a smile for the consumer.
“Spreading positivity by being a source of good conversations, uplifting and correct news is an imperative rather than a marketing opportunity,” said Ameen Khwaja, Founder, CEO, pTron.
Humour and motivation should be the most essential elements of conversation on and off social media to kill the anxiety. In the time of such a crisis, such communication will create a heartening bridge between a brand and the consumers.
“Most of the information is anxiety-driving and not very positive. In times like this, a positive communication will create a bridge between your brand and your consumer, but that bridge needs to be insight-driven and make the consumers feel good,” said Angad Singh Manchanda, CEO, Co-founder, Chimp&z Inc.
Over the last two weeks, brands have understood that information about coronavirus and the lockdown has been overdone and they will have to move towards more feel-good communication.
Brands have two-fold briefs to agencies, said Kartik Johari, Vice-President, Nobel Hygiene. “One is how to keep content moving fast, i.e. content that people can effortlessly interact with. The second is helping an organisation meet its internal objectives with regards to employee communication, stakeholder management and helping the society at large,” he explains.
Agency heads said the briefs coming to them for the past one week are more focused on creating campaigns that are mostly fun and nostalgic.
“Our approach to these campaigns is more from how can we use UGC to create brand films by bringing together the teams to create campaigns with a music-first approach as music always makes the mood better and positive,” said Manchanda.
This is also the time when many people will be anxiously waiting for important information. Anything that clutters their lives without adding value is very likely to give them a negative impression of the brand, one that may be difficult to overcome later. Hence, clear and to-the-point information a customer needs to carry out their transactions is pivotal.
According to brand expert Prabhakar Mundkur, if a brand is saying anything about the coronavirus at all, then it must be done by showing empathy for the consumer.
“For example, Hyundai in the US didn’t tell consumers to go to their dealership and buy a car. Rather they told consumers that they financed or leased a new Hyundai and for any reason if they were to lose their income in the next year, they could return the car with no impact on the credit. That is a really wonderful way of recognising a consumer’s need during coronavirus,” Mundkur said.
Experts said the usual campaigns could be explored but as a smaller part of the brand communication as the ‘crisis’ is on top of mind and a topical issue. “The coronavirus is on top of mind and a topical issue, so building in the pandemic context will help brands and consumers at this time,” said Chaaya Baradhwaaj, Founder, BC Web Wise.
The agency did a 21-day healthy recipe challenge for Nutrela followers, where followers were asked to share a healthy recipe.
However force-fitting communication around the virus is not going to help the brand's purpose. “Not everything has to be about coronavirus, but you cannot act as though it's business-as-usual,” says Rahul Jauhari, President and CCO of Rediffusion.
According to Jauhari, the brands should now stay quiet and plan for what can be done when the lockdown is lifted as nobody is buying anything right now, apart from what’s essential.