American Singer-Songwriter, Lizzo, recently took part in an ad to introduce the response to the viral zoom meeting app, ‘Facebook Messenger Rooms’, but what the audience couldn’t surmise from the dope ad was the amount of brainstorming and tinkering it took to get viable ads produced during a nationwide lockdown.
Ad agencies are doing more brainstorming than ad production right now because of the unusual circumstances that we are in. Ads have always been human-driven; a face-to-face conversation, a direct audience address, depicting an emotion or the many other formats used to pass across the message of a product. But now that social distancing is the new normal and human interaction is at a minimal, the way ads are created needs to be completely re-imagined.
First off, brands are no longer necessarily excited about touting their products and services as the next best thing since jollof rice, they have more hard-hitting concerns.
They are frantically searching for a way to create a balance between the continual use of their products and their concern for the global health crises; they are basically trying to assume a more human face in how they advertise.
Some brands have even stopped advertising altogether for the time being. No point getting a billboard ad up while everyone is ‘trapped’ indoors.
People with more outdoor-like products and services are the hardest hit. How do you convince people to buy outdoor focused paraphernalia, without sounding overly callous? Innovation is probably the only way out on days like these.
A recent survey revealed the following – “People under 40 were more likely than their older counterparts to think advertising should cease entirely during the pandemic, but they also generally responded more positively than older people to recent ads that struck a useful, empathetic tone.”
The aforementioned empathetic ads started out as adorable, but the now almost daily messages of vague support from brands who would instantly ‘rework’ safety measures for their employees if it is perceived as too expensive, has become almost annoying.
Many of these ‘pandemic ads’ feature an actor or influencer (Nigerian CEOs don’t do well with speeches) delivering a message of support with a well-rehearsed, solemn tone, backed by emotional mood music. The truth is that these ads, after you have seen a couple of them, starts to give you the impression that the company in question is only subtly reminding you that they are still around and are ready to mop up any money you have left.
So how can ads be more humane without coming off as ‘arranged’ while getting the expected attention, because that’s the whole point of the ad in the first place, right?
Take a closer look at your product to see if it is essential. The thing is your product doesn’t have to be a mask or breathing machine to be deemed as essential.
Can people go for a whole month without using your product unaffected? If they can, you need to shift your focus instead on sustaining your core audience.
The ones who are further down the marketing funnel and are already die-hard fans.
Don’t sell, just sustain.
If on the other hand crafting a new product line is within reach for your brand, create another product that rings off as more pandemic friendly, thrusting you to the top of the ‘most essential’ list and giving your product bragging rights.
Ad agencies need to learn to synergize with brands to craft creative versions of their present offerings. The truth is, this might just be the only way to salvage the dearth of marketing ads in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here