Vast Majority of Marketers Adjusting Creative Messaging In COVID-19 Era | About the ANA | ANA

Vast Majority of Marketers Adjusting Creative Messaging In COVID-19 Era

In-House Agencies Are Most Important for Producing New Creative Assets

NEW YORK (April 6, 2020) — More than 90 percent of respondents to a new ANA survey indicated they have adjusted their creative marketing messaging since mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

The survey, “Creative Messaging Development and Production Given COVID-19,” revealed that 46 percent of respondents said those adjustments have been substantial. At the same time, 42 percent noted adjustments were moderate and 12 percent said they were minimal.

In-house agencies were identified as being most important for producing new creative assets, followed by other internal teams, external agencies, and media partners. Fifty-five percent identified in-house agencies as being very important for producing new creative assets, while 42 percent said other internal teams were key to asset production. At the same time, 26 percent of respondents said external agencies were very important in the development of new messaging while 22 percent cited media partners as making very important contributions.

“This important new report shows that even in a time of severe crisis, our members are figuring out ways to get the job done — and fast,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Marketers should be proud of the teams they have created, who have displayed remarkable skill and flexibility in their ability to meet the incredible creative challenges posed by the current pandemic.”

Verbatim comments from respondents who made substantial adjustments to their messaging included:

  • Our messaging has pivoted from marketing to providing essential/helpful information to all audiences.
  • More emotional messaging around social distancing and “we are here for you” vs. straight-up sales messages.
  • Messaging has changed to acknowledge schools closing and more social distancing has taken place. We wanted to make sure our marketing wasn’t tone-deaf.
  • Refocused messaging to speak to the empathy of what our communities are facing, showing how we are here to help.
  • Backed off lifestyle imagery, particularly around travel, spring break, and gathering in large groups.

The survey also showed that only 39 percent of respondents indicated that producing new creative assets posed a challenge. Reasons cited:

  • Producing any new assets is tough with sheltering-in-place rules.
  • No crews, studios, or talent. Limited to recuts of existing work, all done remotely from homes of agency or production company people.
  • Studios have been closed. Production crews aren’t able to work.
  • Everyone is working remotely but all new assets are due immediately.

According to the survey, 89 percent said they plan to continue adjusting their messaging in view of the current environment. Reasons cited for additional fine-tuning included plans to make messaging that is empathetic to the current situation, changing language for sensitivity purposes, and changing any lifestyle images depicting people in close proximity at events.

The online survey was conducted March 30–31; there were 196 respondents. A copy of the full report is attached.



The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.


John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Office: 212.455.8011
Cell: 914.659.8663