How brands are weaving conversations around Coronavirus

While a deluge of brands have come up with various marketing campaigns, we asked experts how brands could embrace the COVID-19 narrative without latching on to it merely for the moment

e4m by Shreshtha Verma
Updated: Mar 18, 2020 1:53 PM

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Coronavirus Marketing

Needless to say that Covid-19, commonly known as coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate around the globe, causing operational disruptions to industries spanning from retail to travel and hospitality. Brands-usually the first ones to reach and engage with newsworthy topics have considered the severity of the issue to become a part of the conversation. From Amul to bigbasket and Pee Safe to Savlon, brands are leaving no stone unturned to educate their consumers while leveraging the marketing opportunity. However, as the situation around the pandemic continues to intensify world over, we ask industry leaders what brands should bear in mind before dishing out topical awareness campaigns on it and how they can go beyond just latching on at the moment with sensitivity and caution.

One of the recent creative gems has been rolled out by adhesive brand Fevicol, wherein they created a conversation around social distancing as a precautionary measure during the outbreak in order to strengthen bonds in the times to come.

To be sure, fast consumer goods (FMCG) firms are doubling down on marketing efforts amid a surge in demand for products spurred by the rise of Covid-19 cases detected in India.

Mumbai-based Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) for its Protekt range of hand wash and sanitizers has started a strong digital campaign to create awareness about the regimen of washing hands regularly as it helps prevent the spread of viruses. It has been aggressively running its campaign called Protekt India Movement. With a viral hashtag #ProtektIndiaMovement, fighting for cleanliness for a long time. Now with a new campaign called Spread To Protect, it urges citizens to join them to stand against Covid-19.

Another brand in the space, Savlon came up with a social media campaign called #SurakshaApkeHaathMein. The campaign includes an encouraging video on some important things to remember and the necessary precautions against the deadly disease. Further to this Savlon has also come up with a series of social media posts.

Sukrit Singh, Founder, The Platform believes that the sanitizer and hygiene brands should not only employ their marketing money on ramped up manufacturing and supply chain and get their products to the shelf first but also deploy marketing muscle, air time, social and digital platforms for responsible messaging. “Marketers must utilize every effort with the power of variability - to beat the Covid19 virus, he concluded,” Singh says.

Moreover, Dabur Chyawanprash, ImmunoDab and Giloy Ghanwati have also been running campaigns to drive awareness about staying protected. Another brand that never misses out on topical spots is Amul. The dairy brand is known for its extremely creative moment marketing strategy. Following the tradition, Amul came up with an advertisement, urging its followers to wash their hands and take other precautions.

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#Amul Topical: Owing to Coronavirus, Indian greeting goes global...

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Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting establishes that brands shouldn’t leverage the situation merely as a marketing ploy as it wouldn’t be right and also won’t have any long-term benefits if done just for the sake of it. He advises that brands can play a constructive role in communicating vital information using advertising, provided the brand operates in a category that has some particular relevance to the message. “At this moment I believe that there are only 3 useful messages that need to be sent out to the public – one, to maintain high personal hygiene (in terms of frequently washing/sanitising one’s hands and not touching one’s face), two, to practise social distancing as far as possible and lastly, to stay calm and not panic. For example, brands that are in the personal hygiene space – like soaps, handwashes and hand sanitisers can certainly create advertisements stressing the importance of hygiene in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Or brands that operate in the technology domain, especially those that enable telecommunications, can send out communication encouraging virtual meetings. In both these instances the brands’ image could benefit by being perceived as a responsible brand as well as promoting higher sales during this period without appearing unseemly,” Sinha suggests. His suggestion to brands that have no direct relevance with personal hygiene or social distancing is to hunker down and conserve their budgets as they are unlikely to benefit from any advertising investment at this time.

Healthcare Learning and Patient Education Platform Medtalks also launched a course explaining the disease with over 20 videos and articles on the subject in both English and Hindi. Additionally, the brand unveiled a course for all health care providers and are undertaking live webinars and Facebook live sessions to answer queries.

According to Sameer Makani, Co-founder and Managing Director, Makani Creatives, from the communications landscape standpoint, every single responsible brand is looking to play a narrative that is going to educate the masses about the crisis we are in. “Brands are doing it not to create relevance for their brand or product but it's more to create a precautionary narrative that will educate the audience with facts while bursting the myths about the COVID19 “ Makani adds.

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