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Humor is In, Grim is Out!
“Every COVID-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same, Grim“
While the ads were meant to convey solidarity with those sacrificing and suffering, advertisers are finally lightening up.
Anheuser-Busch’s (NYSE:BUD) Budweiser in late April refreshed its funny, landmark Y 1999 “Whassup” commercial featuring friends “Watching the game, having a Bud,” with a new tagline for the coronavirus era, in which reruns of classic contests try to fill the void of no live sports, “Rewatching the game, having a Bud.”
In another ad, Diageo’s (NYSE:DEO) Smirnoff poked fun at its own poorly timed big splashy marketing campaign featuring TV stars at outdoor summer parties, telling viewers the country needs them to change their summer plans because “home is where the puzzles are.”
As the United States prepares to lift shelter-in-place orders and restart businesses, advertisers are shifting marketing messages to reflect a new upbeat mood. Somber and empathetic have given way to a more lighthearted approach.
“We’re making sure we’re in tune with the climate of where we are on this curve,” the VP of Marketing at Budweiser said in an interview.
While it is too early to declare a complete recovery, marketers in sectors such as banking and technology are preparing for the possibility as early as 2-H of Q-3.
Advertising spending usually follows, chief executive of advertising holding company Interpublic Group of Companies Inc, (NASDAQ:IPG) said.
“The most significant factor is the sector they are in,” he said, regarding the timing of a rebound for various clients.
“Clients have been changing their minds almost daily in response to the pandemic“, he said during IPG’s earnings call.
The CEO of The Liberty Guild, a network of advertising and marketing strategists, said he also believes clients will ramp up their marketing plans toward the end of Q-3.
“The clients that we are working for are working towards the end of the summer,” he said.
Even if brands have not committed to advertising budgets yet, almost all are thinking ahead to what those future ads should convey. Hard-hit brands such as casual dining restaurants are the ones planning the most for the reopening of businesses, said the global co-chief strategy officer at creative ad agency TBWA Worldwide, a unit of Omnicom Group (NASDAQ:OMC).
“They really need to be fast once recovery starts,” she said.
Getting customers jazzed up to return to restaurants and making purchases again will require a different style.
Viewers are getting tired of overly heartfelt ads expressing gratitude for front-line workers or detailing how brands are giving back, the chief executive of creative ad agency Havas Creative North America said.
“I can feel the shift in the work we’re doing for the rest of the year, shifting from stay home messaging to ‘go forth’ messaging,” he said.
Predicting what life will look like after months of self-isolation will be tricky for marketers.
Travel and hospitality brands are walking the fine line of urging people to pursue getaways after months at home, but also reassuring them that it will be safe.
Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) said last week it would partner with cleaning brand Lysol and consult with the Mayo Clinic to create a cleaning and disinfecting standard for its hotels worldwide.
A gradual return to normalcy, conveyed through ads that celebrate holidays and milestones will help.
But nothing can convey a change in tone and that the worst is behind us like humor, the marketers said.
Have a healthy day, Keep the Faith!
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