Getting brand communications right during a pandemic, when consumers are challenged in a variety of ways ranging from economics to health to parenting and childcare, is no easy feat. Marketers must strike the right tone, offer a service that’s of value to consumers in this moment and not appear self-serving or seeking to profit from a crisis.
A piece in AdExchanger from Gartner’s Augie Ray, Vice President Analyst, Customer Experience and Marketing, warns that the public is beginning to reach a limit for its capacity for empathy toward empathetic COVID-19 ads. A well-meaning, finely crafted message can fall flat (or worse, do actual harm) if it’s too similar to other brand messages out there. In fact, a new expression, “COVIDwashing,” is cropping up online and on social media to describe this type of brand self-interest.
The solution, Ray says, is for brands to lead with actions rather than words. Actual updates to services, explanations of how brands are helping the community at large and real investments in employees resonate more than expressions of gratitude. He also recommends specific adjustments to processes, including shorter planning cycles, rapid testing to determine if campaigns are working and monitoring customer sentiment and campaign metrics more frequently. For more on how brands should proceed with sensitivity and caution during this time, read on in AdExchanger.