As the spread of COVID-19 continues, the way we live our daily lives has fundamentally changed.
How often did you actively think about when or where you last touched your own face?
Had you ever washed your hands for the full 20 seconds?
When was the last time every grocery and corner store in your area was long sold out of hand sanitizer? How many rolls of toilet paper do you have left? And will it get you to the end?
How many times have you ordered delivery in the last week? Have your Hulu watching and online browsing behaviors increased?
Our current—and completely appropriate—cultural norms have shifted overnight. Marketers are faced with a unique challenge of adjusting their messaging to the current time. For many, this has meant a total revamp of their creative and marketing messaging.
Q: Before we dig in, I’d like to tackle a serious question inspired by the current state of the world. What is your go-to quarantine activity?
Ellen Nash, Account Executive: Walking! Getting fresh air keeps my cabin fever at bay. Also, I have to give a shoutout to all the Real Housewives on Bravo, you ladies have kept me entertained for hours on end.
Sam Kang, Strategic Account Manager: Playing soccer with my four-month-old puppy. Getting in a daily routine of going outside helps me split up work from personal life and ultimately creating balance. (Something we could all use during the quarantine)
Q: During this time, how should marketers adapt or shift their marketing efforts and marketing budgets?
Ellen: Obviously, there are reasons for some industries to reduce budgets. It’s an uncertain time, but there’s also a ton of opportunity. More people are turning to audio and streaming devices for news and entertainment (or if you’re me: Bravo on Sling TV). There’s more inventory than ever in connected TV (CTV) and digital audio, and prices are lower than they’ve been in a while. Sam and I have clients that are launching audio and CTV for the very first time, which is exciting and fun to work on. Marketers can take advantage of this unique time at home, where people are consuming more content than usual.
Sam: I would say the biggest thing to keep in mind is what is the overall message you are trying to get across? During trying times like this, putting business aside and showing empathy can define your brand for a long time, so you really want to make sure you have a clear understanding of your message. And I would have to agree with Ellen in terms of channels we’ve seen be really effective. People are tuning into their CTV & audio devices more than ever. I can personally attest to this as I’ve watched just about every single show on Netflix. And as a marketer, you want to make sure you are adapting with the trends.
Q: What are some things you’re hearing from the marketers you work with about changing their marketing strategies?
Sam: At first, there was a sense of panic due to how fast things were evolving, but once everything started to become the new norm, people started adapting to the situation. Although COVID-19 has heavily impacted many industries, people are still looking for creative ways to leverage digital advertising to maintain strong branding.
Q: According to a new Association of National Advertisers survey, more than 90 percent of respondents indicated they adjusted their creative marketing messaging since mid-March when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. How have you seen marketers you work with change their marketing strategies and messages over the last couple of weeks?
Ellen: Our brands and agencies have been more creative than ever. We work with agencies and brands across the globe, and everyone has noticed an impact. We’ve seen an increase in spend for auto repair shops, pet supplies, in-home entertainment, home & garden, eCommerce, and quick-serve restaurants.
Sam: The clients we work with have been quick on their feet, adjusting their messages to reflect these troubling times. I would say the one key theme I’m seeing across the board is a message of hope and empathy.
Q: Do you have any examples of how the marketers you work with have changed their creative messages?
Ellen: Automotive and travel & tourism clients have had to make very significant changes to their marketing plans.
Most auto dealerships have closed their doors, but are offering new financing options and even door-to-door delivery of vehicles. The closure of non-essential businesses happened seemingly overnight, especially in states like California and New York. R2 Media out of Orange County is an example of an agency that changed creative messaging overnight for their auto dealerships from leasing specials to non-contact vehicle delivery.
Sam: We work with Madden Media out of Tucson, who specializes in travel and tourism. Our focus at the beginning of the year was on capturing spring break and summer vacation planners, and by mid-March, those campaigns had to pause. Madden pivoted their connected TV ads to be optimistic, with language along the lines of “stay home, and we hope to see you soon.” They were able to make changes to their videos and creative assets while working remotely, and they turned out great.
Ellen: Madden’s new destination ads both pull on heartstrings and leaves viewers hopeful for the future. They’ve done an amazing job, especially while having one of the hardest-hit industries during COVID-19. Here is an example of one of their ads for Grand Canyon West.
Q: What tips do you have for marketers that are looking to change their ads to meet the current state of affairs?
Ellen: Brands likely have a lot of images from past photo shoots, artwork from previous campaigns, and unused or old video clips. While we’re at home there are a lot of free resources that can help in ad creation, like Spotify’s Ad Studio, Garageband, iMovie, and FinalCut. GIFs can be easily converted into mp4s and used for Connected TV.
Sam: Right now there might not be the option to go into production for a brand new ad. Reuse what you have! D2C brands especially tend to have a stockpile of unused art and photos buried deep in a company Dropbox.
Q: How have in-house media solutions helped our clients launch their updated ads and strategies?
Ellen: We’re living in a very unpredictable time, so it’s important for marketers to be able to make campaign changes on the fly. In-house solutions like Choozle allow you to make adjustments within minutes.
Sam: If my clients are really in a pinch, I’ve been helping out with making adjustments and edits to their campaigns. We try to help our clients as much as possible, so if that means managing some campaigns, we’re happy to do it.
Q: Any final thoughts?
Ellen: Who still has jigsaw puzzles in stock?
Sam: I’m running dangerously low on toilet paper. Help!