• Anjana Jayalakshmi

How to advertise during a pandemic?

Since late 2019, COVID-19 has wrecked the world causing fear and havoc with respect to the uncertainty of the future. The pandemic has become truly global. What was then a ‘new normal’ is now the ‘normal’.


Businesses now are aware of the drastic measures that have to be taken to ensure marketers, business partners, and stakeholders appreciate the severity of the situation. The more we sing the same lyric with regards to social distancing, and other measures, the easier it will be to contain the spread.


While the world unites against a common enemy and seems to resonate from the learnings from a pandemic (advertisers: take note), advertisers are caught in a world of uniformity. An unfamiliar territory when the creation of a unique and distinct voice is not enough.


Businesses need to stand out and help the community in that process - so the “what to say” that goes beyond the healthcare message is as crucial as ever.



Here’s a thought to ponder upon: shouldn’t advertisers/ strategists/ marketers be thinking about “what to do”? The actions will dictate the speech and create a podium for the brand as well.


Given that the world is concerned, people are looking at organizations more closely than ever. It is understandable that people need their source of inspiration as they have time on their hands and fear in their hearts.


It’s more than just saying the “right thing”. It’s about doing it. Here’s what we should do: a hypothetical lens that evaluates the ‘say/ do gap’. Understand and gather information about if we can actually practice what we preach.


The most visible example that we have witnessed would be when companies took action and changed their production processes to help with the pandemic. Distilleries and manufacturing firms began producing sanitisers and ventilators.


But what about other organizations? What do they do during this time of need?


Businesses and marketing professionals need to remember what makes their firm, the culture, the root. Marketing was never, and will never be equal to promotion. Remember the ‘4Ps’ of marketing. It is across these four categories that actions for today’s world can be inspired.


Companies must reevaluate and prioritize their products - with the current context. People need help coping with the ‘new normal’ and companies can do something to alleviate the anxiety of an economy that seems to be shutting down. With assets and leveraging the 4Ps, they can help people and contain the fear. This can be the first step towards welcoming people to a new reality of working from home, self-quarantining, and social distancing - a reality that will possibly be on loop for quite some time.


Small innovations and developments are directly relevant to the crisis at hand.


Pricing is definitely a factor that companies must consider.


Promotion needs to be appropriate. Companies must show that they are operating within respected parameters - respect social distancing if it cannot be enforced.


Operations, research, and development, finance, sales, and marketing must join hands and come up with innovative solutions.


Organizations that are attempting to take advantage of the situation - without being empathetic and not providing a valuable response, must pay the price and provoke a public backlash.


It’s time to prepare and develop plans in three phases - the predictable phases of the pandemic - acute outbreak, recovery, and new normal. The priorities and buying behaviour of people and companies will constantly change, therefore, a thorough analysis is imperative.


Working from home has become widely acceptable - it is a trend that will pave the way towards a sustainable community. People will tend to focus on saving their money and reduce non-essential spending. The ‘new normal’ will drive an increase in online shopping. Delivery of e-commerce services will be more prominent and supply chains will become less reliant on any one jurisdiction.



Marketers must not go quiet during the pandemic. That is not the answer.


Find the company’s new purpose - one that will help the community cope. Create a positive externality that’s more than a campaign - but a way forward. Concentrate on Social Responsibility to make the world a better place. This will help you to stay relevant and gain supporters for your cause.


Maintain marketing efforts throughout difficult times - this will help you get a better standing. Organizations that go quiet will be at a distinct disadvantage and will have issues re-establishing their voice and relationships with customers.


A company’s true purpose can frequently be found within the marketing of ‘4Ps’ and when in time of enhancement, do consider ‘7Ps’!


Just remember, while doing so, remember the lens - everyone is watching, this is the time for action, not sit on the sidelines.


Nothing is more powerful than an idea that needs to be incepted. Need assistance on your brand to be put on a pedestal? You’re at the right place! Let’s find the solution to your challenge. Let’s get in touch! Contact us now.



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