Newsworks’ senior data insight manager Zainab Pirzada writes about the importance of advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is unlike anything our society has seen before. Stuck indoors and ultra-cautious, we are witnessing a worldwide state of emergency. At a time like this, quality journalism has never been more important to society.
News brands serve as a critical channel for providing reliable, trusted information during periods of national and global crisis. A recent report conducted by Edelman, found that 67% of Brits are “getting most of their information on the virus from major news organisations” well ahead of national government (34%) and social media (22%). Kantar’s ‘COVID-19 Barometer’ research corroborates these findings, with traditional national news channels being deemed the most trusted sources of information.
With millions of Brits relying on journalism, it’s no surprise that brands across different sectors are utilising the power of print to connect positively and proactively with their customers. Before the lockdown was enforced in the UK, the latest readership data from PAMCo showed that quality British journalism is being read by more people than ever before – 34 million people a day.
From supermarkets to banks, many advertisers are choosing long-copy print ads to communicate messages of safety and trust to their customers – a genuine act of solidarity, providing comfort and support.
Companies are coming together to help. Morrisons have created a hardship fund to support colleagues who are in financial difficulty as a result of the virus outbreak. Tescohave put in place a number of social distancing measures to make shopping safe and BrewDog and LVMH are also producing hand sanitiser instead of craft beers and perfume.
They’re on the right track. Historically advertisers who go quiet during periods of economic downturn, suffer in the long-term. Evidence from WARC shows that, those who maintain investments, generate higher growth than those who cut back.
It is a challenging situation, buying habits are dramatically changing, and emotions are running high, but rather than going quiet, brands should take example and use their marketing for public good. Device research finds that 69% of consumers don’t mind being advertised to, as long as it is done appropriately and sensitively.
Not all categories are equal. Advertising from the government, food and drink manufacturers, and online retailers are welcomed, whereas airlines and car manufacturers should re-evaluate how they engage with customers during the pandemic.
According to Kantar, the majority of consumers expect advertising to make a positive contribution to society. Brands should consider their tone and talk about how they are helpful in the new normal and about their efforts around COVID-19 – whether it’s giving reassurance around mortgage payments and overdrafts or feeding the nation.
Be supportive, informative and understanding, this is when we need it the most.