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DAN asks brands to avoid tactical campaigns capitalising on Covid-19

In its report, Covid-19 Impact, the agency compiled insights to help brands act from a marketing, media and commerce perspective. The report urged brands to invest more on digital, radio and TV and offer free shipping on products

Encouraging the industry to showcase strong solidarity to help minimise and mitigate the detrimental effects of the coronavirus pandemic on society, businesses and the lives of humans, Dentsu Aegis Network has released its ‘Covid-19 Impact’ report.

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The agency has compiled some observations, thoughts and reflections together with possible actions on how brands can act from a marketing, media and commerce perspective. It asked brands to avoid tactical campaigns that capitalise on the situation as it could cause damage.

The report has compiled possible consumer behaviour during the outbreak, which includes excessive news consumption as media becomes a way of enriching day-to-day life.

As people turn to isolation and shopping turns online, there will be surge in search and traffic to e-commerce sites—especially for protective equipment, medication and food.  There is a severe decrease in footfall for travel, restaurants, sports, offline entertainment and offline retail. It also said brands with poor online presence and bad user experience can suffer greatly.

In a similar way, media consumption is also changing. The report stated not only during prime time, consumers consume more media the whole day. Apart from this, it noticed:

*TV and digital is increasingly looking at news.

*Radio is increasing as more travel by car. 

*TV is decreasingly looking at cancelled sports events.

*Subscription VOD and gaming (including streaming) is increasing.

*Media consumed outdoors and in public is decreasing/losing effect; especially OOH, cinema and sponsorships.

Looking at the changes in media consumption, it asked brands to increase digital presence to reflect consumer behaviour while maintaining video investments to maintain brand. Also, brands should decrease OOH, cinema and offline retail activities and increase radio investments as more people travel by car.

During these times of insecurity, the report urged brands to consider decreasing or pausing short-term sales activities, especially if one has offline-heavy business. It suggested maintaining long-term brand activities to avoid future costs of rebuilding brand as well as maintaining margins (increasingly important when sales decrease).

It asked brands to shift short-term investments to product, site, e-com, content, martech and SEO development to make it easier for people to buy from home so that it makes the brand more digitally available today as well as to build a strong foundation after the outbreak.

Brands should also explore:

*Developing and communicating added values that help consumers and society as well as differentiates brands from competition; i.e. home delivery, longer time period for returns and rebookable tickets. 

*Offering cost reductions for subscriptions people can’t use or watch due to the pandemic, i.e. gym memberships and sports streaming services.

*Avoiding tactical campaigns that capitalise on the situation. This will damage your brand.

Looking at the possibility of negative customer reactions to advertising, brands can consider ensuring empathy with the current consumer situation. While one should avoid messaging that encourages activities that are opposite of government recommendations, i.e. going out, brands ought to celebrate and reward positive behaviour of customers. 

It has recommended brands to communicate products and services that boost activities in line with what is best for society, i.e. running shoes rather than visiting the gym. Also, to communicate things that decrease the spread of the disease and keep customers safe, i.e. delivering outside the door without physical contact.

It has also stated a few solidarity actions to really make a change and make people’s lives easier during this tough situation, as well as decreasing the possibility of the virus to spread.

It asked brands to consider:

*Offering customers free shipping to help them avoid going out (and increasing baseline of e-com-buyers).

*Offering customers free data or video subscriptions to help people to stay informed and keep their spirit high by being able to watch streaming services and play games online.

*Offering products or services for free, which either make it easier for people to stay at home or make them happy when they stay at home, i.e. closing physical restaurants, offering free home delivery.

*Donating media space to government messaging (or communicating yourself).

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