As we approach the pinnacle of shopping weekends, I can’t help but to think back to the article Digilant’s VP of Paid Media, Mike Addizio, wrote in March: Buying Responsibly and with Heart During the Coronavirus Outbreak. Written at the very start of the spread of coronavirus in the United States, Mike offered advice to brands in a time when many companies had cut their media budget. He wrote that, for those that had the financial means to continue advertising, there was a window of opportunity as our team saw CPMs dropping across the board.
However, his advice didn’t stop there. He encouraged brands to use this window to evoke messages of positivity, hope, understanding, and helpfulness. He outlined the following ideas:
- Consider a campaign that spreads positivity, shows the empathy of your brand, and illustrates how you’re helping those affected by the crisis. Build brand equity.
- High-risk populations need access to goods and services they usually shop in-store. Make them aware that you are there to serve them in their time of need.
- Consumers are already financially impacted. Reach those consumers who may need a discount more than ever.
8 months later, this advice still reigns true. Although many brands have reinstated their digital media budgets as we’ve begun to find a routine in our “new normal,” brands and consumers alike are still facing a holiday season like never before. Many people are opting to forgo their usual Thanksgiving plans in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus amongst their friends and family – something many have never experienced in their life.
So, any piece of comfort, empathy, or stress-alleviation brands can offer through digital advertising campaigns and marketing content will be well-received by consumers. That’s not to say your ads need to be melancholy or even directly mention the pandemic (we all remember this video that went viral in April). Below are a few ways to tailor the advice Mike shared at the start of the pandemic towards your holiday campaigns:
1. Spread positivity and show empathy of your brand
The pandemic cannot be ignored, however, consumers don’t want (or need) to be reminded of the changes they’re facing this holiday season in the thousands of ads they see every week. Choose to spread messages of hope, positivity, gratitude, and other sentiments of holiday cheer. Without blatantly ignoring the current state, as advertisers, we can keep our messages uplifting in time where many consumers may be feeling overwhelmed.
2. High-risk populations (amongst other people) still need access to goods and services they usually purchase in-store.
Whether it is the high-risk community, people that prefer not to shop in-store, or just people that have adapted to online shopping (and now even prefer it), heading to the mall to do their shopping, is something consumers will not be doing as much this year, if at all. Consumers will continue to shop online now more than ever before. Meeting these consumers where they are is essential. Highlight that you offer free shipping or expedited shipping, that they can buy online and pick-up in-store, or that you offer curbside shopping. Anyway you are able to alleviate concerns about points of gathering, which will help those who are changing their normal shopping habits.
3. Reach those consumers who may need a discount more than ever.
Not only are people reckoning with their changed holiday plans, many Americans are also feeling financial hardship brought on by the pandemic. Again, you don’t have to overtly mention this in your advertisements. Consumers will naturally resonate with brands that offer discounts or savings of any sort over the holidays (loyalty discounts, buy now/pay later, etc).
Advertising Responsibly and with Heart During the Holiday Season
Although it may feel like we’ve grown used to many of the changes we’ve faced due to the pandemic, none of us have ever experienced a holiday season like this before. Some of those feelings from the start of the pandemic of worry, uneasiness, and/or stress may begin to bubble back up throughout the holiday season.
Just like Mike mentioned at the start of the pandemic, there is a window of opportunity for brands to be a beacon of light. Consumers will remember and appreciate brands who offered them any sense of relief during this holiday season. Brands need to interact with consumers using messages addressing what consumers need right now – whether that is price discounts, free shipping, or curbside pickup.
It goes without saying, this is a unique time for brands and consumers alike. However, it is also a time of opportunity. In conclusion, just as Mike wrote in March: “It’s important to use this opportunity to do good and be useful. And be sure to act quickly…Stay safe out there.”