Marketing During A Pandemic (Without Creating Crises)

Protecting your reputation is critical when marketing and advertising

[Editor’s note: We’ve all seen some seriously tone-deaf marketing messages going out as everyone works to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, so we thought this reminder from PR and marketing expert Megan Licursi was quite timely.]

Advertising during today’s pandemic can be…touchy. Pun intended.

The Facebook memes suggest (accurately) that we’re watching more TV, spending more time on the Internet and ordering takeout for delivery. We are overwhelmed, stressed and scared.

Online retailers like Walmart.com and Amazon are posting record-breaking profit numbers, yet many Americans, myself included, are worried about the economy, choosing to reduce needless spending and buy only the necessities.

So, what’s a brand to do? Marketing messages need to be empathetic and show unity.

Honda is doing it right, pulling ads that tout the features and benefits of its latest model, replacing it with a campaign tied into its global tagline, The Power of Dreams. The :30 second spot tells us we’ll get through this by remembering to care for each other.

Hotels.com is another example of a company who nailed the tone. It’s spokesperson, Captain Obvious, is shown using hand sanitizer before eating popcorn and practicing social distancing. The company temporarily changed its tagline on these spots to Just Stay Home.

At The Licursi Group, we’re running campaigns that promote the culture of our clients and letting consumers know that we’re all in this together.

Last week, we hosted our inaugural Friday Night Fash-In, a Zoom-based Happy Hour on behalf of Dryel, an in-home dry cleaning alternative. More than 100 fashionistas across the globe joined in for a much-needed escape from the news media to discuss all things fashion. More than 100 influencers attended and the only topic we didn’t discuss…the features and benefits of Dryel. Instead, we sent each attendee a sample as a thank you for joining us. This Friday, we’re repeating the event and more than 500 fashion fans have RSVP’d, prompting us to tie in Facebook Live.

Brands need to be responsive, but they can’t be tone-deaf. It’s not a time for a hard sell. It’s a time to humanize your brand. Read the room.

Megan Licursi
Partner, The Licursi Group