Marketers Are Agile and Empathetic in the Age of COVID-19

April 7, 2020

By Bill Duggan


Marketers have been incredibly agile and empathetic in adjusting their creative messaging given the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, we surveyed our members to understand if/how creative messaging has been developed and how work is getting produced. Here’s what we learned:

  • Ninety-two percent have adjusted creative messaging for marketing since mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
  • For 46 percent of respondents, those adjustments have been substantial; for 42 percent adjustments were moderate; for 12 percent they were minimal.
  • Producing new creative assets has been a challenge for only 39 percent of members. In other words, marketers are finding ways to get things done.
  • In-house agencies and other internal teams were identified as being most important for producing new creative assets, followed by external agencies and media partners.
  • Eighty-nine percent plan on adjusting the creative messaging for marketing going forward in view of the current environment.

In response to qualitative creative adjustments already made as well as those planned in future, respondents noted that messaging was more sensitive and empathetic; encouraged social distancing; and changed from being promotional/harder sell to “we’re here for you” creative.

Automotive marketers have been especially fast on their feet. A few examples:

  • Ford is offering payment relief to those affected by COVID-19 who are leasing and financing through Ford credit as well as a program giving customers who buy new vehicles the option to delay their first payment for 90 days.
  • Hyundai Assurance covers up to six months of payments for Hyundai owners who purchase or lease a Hyundai vehicle between March 14 and April 30, 2020 if they lose their job due to COVID-19 this year.
  • “More than ever, your home is your sanctuary,” according to a new commercial from Lincoln. Lincoln will come to your house, pick up your car for servicing and leave you with a loaner. Plus, they are offering deferred payments for up to 120 days on the purchase of a new Lincoln.

Then there’s the creative that salutes health care and retail workers. I especially like the Walmart commercial celebrating their “over one million heroes in towns across America” using David Bowie’s “Heroes” as the background music. And there are spots in both English and Spanish.

It's a tough time, but marketers and their creative partners are rising to the challenge. Read our white paper, “Creative Messaging Development and Production Given COVID-19,” for more.

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