Does anything feel as crass as marketing during a pandemic?
Do you cringe when you open your inbox to tone-deaf emails? Do you wince when you scroll through your feed and see ads for things you would not even consider in ‘normal’ life but catch your eye because you “can’t believe” they’d promote a particular item not necessary to surviving COVID-19?
Right now, smart companies are not advertising products – if they are advertising anything, they are advertising compassion. Understanding. Hope for better.
And the emotional chasm between the two - crassness and compassion - is wide, and it will have serious impact as we move forward.
People will, when isolated, bored, feeling stressed and upset, often reach for the first thing that can make them feel ‘normal’ - and for some that is shopping. I am not condemning that in any way, as long as ‘retail therapy’ does not create or inflame a chronic addiction. I have been known to buy a pair of shoes or an outfit in order distract myself with a little brain candy when under stress.
But this pandemic, it is a whole new category of life, and marketing must take this into consideration. For many, many companies, this is make-or-break. How each one moves forward will not only impact its operation today, but its long-term viability.
My recommendation to clients is that they use their messaging and platforms to show who they are and what they stand for. I counsel that they should take any opportunity to ‘do good’ - not for the PR, not for the marketing, but for the soul. Because good will is critical right now - and it will carry you (and us all) into the future.
In this time of massive disruption, we will come out of this cycle with clear winners - companies that not only fought to stay open, but did it with heart and compassion and an understanding that “this too shall pass.”
When it has, they will be proud of how they helped. And people will remember.