• Kartik Thakur

Marketing in a Pandemic

How should brands reach out to their consumers during these troubled times?

By now you must have seen a couple of advertisements, newspaper ads and social media endorsements by your favorite brands while you are at home. Now is a very difficult time for marketeers. The whole paradigm of marketing your product has fallen. People don't want to buy apart from the basic necessities. The basic means of marketing – that is demand, has just hit rock bottom. So, how should brands communicate/engage with their consumer base during Quarantine ?

1) Don’t sell, Empathize.

Instead of marketing their product, right now they should focus on communicating a message of solidarity and show people what they are actually doing on the ground to help in these troubled times. As the oldies say,

“ A friend in need, is a friend indeed.”

Brands need to be that friend. How you communicate right now in the time of crisis will be remembered way after the COVID wave has passed. Stop cheeky insensitive business as usual communication urging people to buy your product, use it to show how much you care and understand the pain of the consumer and how you can help in any way possible.

To quote some example, Cadbury rebranded their chocolate bars saying ‘thanks’ to the unsung heroes of this pandemic. The money from the sales would be used to fund health insurance policies of daily wagers.

Budweiser started the #WeareallOneTeam Campaign

Asian Paints “ Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai” TVC with voice over by the advertising mogul Mr. Piyush Pandey.

A recent trend started kicking off when a baker in San Francisco, reduced the size of the cake for 1-2 servings and decorated the cakes with empathetic messages. It was not soon that the trend went viral and bakeries world over started picking it up.

Study says that the brands who actually go the extra mile and work tirelessly to help those on the ground during this pandemic, create the strongest brand image. However, these are few. Most brands just bell the simple “We are here for you” TV Commercial without any ground impact per se.

2) Don’t Sell, Educate.

Spread awareness and informative pieces that engage with your audience. Social Media will play a key role here.

For an example, a leading child care brand, say Johnson&Johnson, could educate people on parenting kids at home when all the schools are closed, with the hashtag #BeATeacher, or a kitchen brand, say Maggie or Heinz or Prestige could share cooking lessons online ( since everyone is awakening their nascent cook these days. I myself realized baking was so simple ! ) or like Gatorade US did, they started a At Home Training Youtube playlist !

3) Don’t sell, Spread Awareness.

A brand’s role need not just be limited to content creation. They could endorse/support/spread awareness about brands/NGOs/Government Activities that are actually doing something on ground. Dove supported the HealthCare People on ground by showing their story in their recent Courage is Beautiful campaign.

Also The Coca-Cola Company lent it's twitter handle for a day to an NGO working on the ground.

4) Sell the feeling post the Pandemic.

Now that the lockdown restrictions are seemingly reduced, customers are out on the streets again, though less in numbers. Don’t sell your products, sell the feeling of a world post lockdown ( an optimistic one though) Air-travel has recently kicked off, staggeredly though. AirAsia in my opinion nailed it with this recent TVC, by just emphasizing the feeling of flying once again. If you haven’t checked out the #FlightsOfImagination Ad, remember to check out right away ! I couldn’t explain it any better.

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