The beginning of the COVID pandemic revealed an outlet for advertisers to “lend a helping hand” to people in the ‘uncertain times’. Corporate advertising attempted to use COVID as a marketing tool and their products as solutions in three main ways.
Companies defining COVID as a “crisis of logistics” used advertisements to convince the public they are important to making the world function during the pandemic. For example, a company boasting its involvement in the supply chain for PPE. Brands also used the pandemic to market COVID as “a crisis of capital,” by donating money to people in need. This could be seen as a publicity stunt to improve their image. Lastly, brands focused on the emotional impact the pandemic caused and created advertisements to put their brand as the solution to comfort. This tactic was common in fashion and luxury brands that reveal their product, such as sweatpants, making a positive impact.
Advertisements that used COVID as a selling point caused an uproar due to some of the mocking tones. Some of the advertisers taking it seriously also found trouble due to the perception of their ad in a greater context. The pandemic advertisements were not without risk, but they still presented decision-making dilemmas for consumers that don’t know their true intentions. To take in these ads, consumers need to be aware of the company’s motives.
An advertiser’s job is to influence public opinion of their brand in a greater social context. It is important to consider the messages they present and what their ultimate goal is. People can learn a lot about a brand by the way they take advantage of a large social problem. As the article cleverly said, “beware of brands bearing gifts.”