Marketing and the Pandemic

Pandemic, reduce the spends, stop the burn, conservative, unprecedented. If you are working any kind of advertising space, these are the words you would be oh so familiar with. Things are not as we know them outside, so how could they be routine on digital. Far from it.

Brands in the past have used digital as a key ingredient in the marketing mix to advertise and sell their products. Now there is a fundamental shift to this, at least temporarily. Jobs are at risks, most people have taken some kind of a salary cut etc and purchasing power has been hit. This means that disposable income is at paltry and people want to conserve cash. When the whole buying-selling cycle has been disrupted then how can advertising be not.

So, in the times of COVID, what has worked? Simply put, the bare essentials has.

A good example of this is the events industry. With virtually a closure on all live events, artists have performed from home. These are not perfect concerts but just the comfort of seeing your favourite artist do his thing has people warming their hearts. COVID has once again shown the value of moving fast and that of MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Nobody is waiting for perfect solution, it is the solution that matters.

Bring Relief:

So if you are working on a product that could in any way bring a relief or can mimic the ‘normal life’, essential or non essential, people are willing to give you time, because of all things disposable, everyone has time right now. Usage of social media is high and appropriate, sensitive communication for things that are considered to bring a relief have the attention. Don’t sell tickets to Bali for 2021, for when things will be ok, sell the experience of checking out Bali today in VR, if you get the drift.

Time for Relationships:

This is a great time for brands to make lasting relationships with publishers of their choice. The media industry is highly dependent on ads for survival and with the income drying, a lot of publications are more approachable than they have been. It’s a good time for marketers to build these relationships and reach out to their relevant target audience, which they did not keeping in mind the budget constraint.

Don’t use Fear:

I see a plenty of term insurance and medical insurance companies trying to sell me their products riding on the wave of COVID. Nothing wrong in making use of the situation but there has to be sensitivity of communication that every marketer must adhere to. One SMS, Email, Whatsapp, can trigger a barrage of emotions, be sensitive to it. Your ability to be empathetic as a brand will go a long way in helping people remember you.

Supporting a Cause:

A lot of very good brands have come together to support and help a cause. The cause may not just be about helping the front line workers, which they should, but also helping their employees, their customers. That little bit extra today will go a very long way in retaining the customer.


Nobody will come out of this pandemic with great memories simply because how averse this is to how our lifestyle was. But what people will come out with is lasting impressions of who stood with them and how? For brands, this is the time to make that mark. We talk a lot of retaining the customers, there will never be a better time for that by humanising the experience and journey.

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