Brands: don’t stop communicating during Covid19 lockdown, adjust your communication!

Containment has been the new paradigm for the last 4 weeks… After the first days shock, lots of brands decided to immediately stop their advertising campaigns, as a budget adjustment parameter of course, but also because teams were off or on partial unemployment, and because finding the right message was hard. But stopping communication at a very strong media exposure is a major strategic mistake, and brands that will maintain their media visibility, especially on social networks, will come out stronger from the Covid19 crisis.

First there was a shock: Covid19 had started far away as a Chinese issue, but suddenly governments announced containment in the western world. All of a sudden, we realized a major change was coming. Fear was our first feeling. Fear for our health, for our children and for our relatives. But also fear for our colleagues. And fear for our jobs… 

All companies in the world immediately tried to find ways to survive an announced economical earthquake. And as seen during former crisis in 2001 or 2008, communication has been instantly considered as an adjustment parameter: most brands decided to cut their investment in communication. 

For most brands, the pandemic is a difficult time to run any ads, whatever the media. Some brands, like Coca-Cola, consider that communication in this period is « indecent ».

But others only realized that finding the right messaging is tricky, and marketers have naturally cancelled or postponed campaigns that could appear insensitive during this time. Finally, other brands simply had no choice but to cut their ad spending. Travel brands for example instantly cut their ads by 50% vs last year (source: MediaRadar, first half of March20).

Thinking about stopping communication seems logical at first, but it is a major mistake!

It tooks 3 to 4 weeks to most companies and teams to go from « shock » to « problem solving » state : so, what do we do now?

It’s now time for brands to communicate.

Here is why:

  1. Stopping communication at a very strong media exposure is a major strategic mistake!
  2. Advertising is very cheap now
  3. It is the perfect occasion to drive branding campaigns

First : stopping communication at a very strong media exposure is a major strategic mistake!

Image by Erik Lucatero from Pixabay

People have never been connected that much to media, both traditional (TV, press) and digital (social media notably).

Since the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Crisis in 1982, it has been proven that responding with massive and authentic communication is the best way to deal with any crisis. Any crisis is unique, and this coronavirus pandemic is not exactly comparable, but why are so many brands forgetting this basic school teaching?

In fact, it is all the more relevant as the world changed a lot since 1982. And media have taken a much bigger place in our lives. In our computers. In our cell phones. Even in our pockets in fact.

In the last few days, the virus even accelerated this transformation as it changed the way we Internet (see this very interesting article on the NY Times): stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with movie theaters closed and no restaurants to go out, people have spent more of their lives online. More time on the Internet overall, and on social networks.

Social networks like Snapchat, WhatsApp or Instagram never seen higher usage amid Covid19 lockdowns. In a few days, WhatsApp has seen 40% increase in usage (event +76% in Spain!!!)

According to Facebook, total messaging on its platform was up by more than 50% over last month, and time across all apps since the crisis has grown 70%.

It is the right moment to be close to consumers, differently, in finding a place in their current new way of life.

Brands that communicate will win against their competitors, they will exit stronger because they will be closer to consumers at a moment when they are aware and interested.

Some brands communicate on a general interest axis, other on daily life, but it is always on consumer proximity.

Second : advertising is very cheap now

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Lots of brands decided to cut media investments, so advertising is cheap. It is less expansive than ever.

Especially in the digital industry, CPM has decreased -30 to 40% in the last days… what an opportunity for brands!

Third: it is the perfect occasion to drive branding campaigns

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

If events and performance-based campaigns budgets are not relevant during lockdown, branding campaign should be implemented.

Events budgets are cut. Okay, it is relevant.

Performance based campaigns do not apply to every brands. This is also relevant.

But branding campaigns can be run by any brand to increase awareness and strengthen values. Branding campaigns will build audience that brands will be able to retarget after the crisis. 

Brands should invest their events and performance budgets in branding campaigns, especially on social media. It means more specifically a focus on Youtube, Facebook Vidéo, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, or TikTok for example.

Brands should build their campaigns on authenticity, associate their companies to positive values, meaningful, and explain to consumers their reason to exist inside the current social values and environmental framework.

During Covid19 more than ever, and as we have seen it in China, advertising should be done more locally, at a city or neighbors level. This is relevant now. And it is an investment for the after containment phasis as people should have an increased concern for local consumption.

At Kolsquare we believe brands should not stop communicating at a very strong media exposure. It would be a major strategic mistake! Don’t stop communicating, just communicate differently. It is the best way to overcome the crisis and come back stronger than competitors.

Below are interesting current campaigns examples of brands that are dealing well through the turmoil :

  • Skyn: Stay the f*** at home on Instagram
  • Nike : Brand’s social posts follow announcement that it will be committing more than $15 million to COVID-19 response efforts.
  • Southwest Airlines: although the majority of travel brands have cut down or paused their social ads, Southwest Airlines has taken the opposite approach. On March 17, Southwest Airlines began promoting a sale, including no change fees. The airline has seen up to 40 percent day-over-day increases of ad impressions on YouTube, up to 40 percent on Facebook, 30 percent on Twitter and 15 percent on Instagram.
  • Tealer and Schweppes: the 2 brands partnered for a digital festival called Lockdown Festival, including exclusive artists lives and line-ups directly from their homes, as well as creative workshops, painting or cooking workshops, … 

Publié dans: Influence

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