Don’t Mention The Virus! The consumer reaction to brands during COVID-19.

How brand messaging fatigue is setting in, and what you can do about it

Picture the scene. You’ve been working from home for two months now. Groundhog day is not just a film anymore, it’s a way of life. So after yet another day of awkward zoom meetings, emails, and refreshing the Coronavirus blog of doom on a popular newspaper website, it’s natural to want to switch on the TV to try to forget the crisis for a while. Ah TV, the trusty old friend in the corner of the room that provides a miraculous portal into many worlds, with seemingly bottomless escapism. And then the ad breaks start, and abraca-d’oh-bra: the spell is broken. You found the ads were fine to start with, conjuring scenes of family togetherness, the inspirational common struggle, desolate cityscapes and whimsical fake zoom meetings, but let’s be honest, they’re becoming grating.
You wouldn’t be the only one to think so. The latest findings from YouGov show that 69% of Brits think brands are delivering similar messages to one another in their communications, with 42% of those surveyed answering that they were tired of the phrase ‘we’re all in this together’. In addition, 51% feel that brands are over-communicating with them. Click below to read more about the survey.



Striking The Right Balance

It’s tricky being a marketing manager during a crisis. You can spend ages trying to find a message that strikes the right balance between punchy and sensitive, not to mention sourcing the right visuals given limited resources and obvious logistical challenges, only to end up serving something that falls in near lockstep with other brands. Given all of this, it’s no wonder that the public are starting to switch off. 


Now we all know that brand values should remain the same, crisis or no crisis, so marketing professionals should be asking themselves if the way they are responding to the coronavirus is true to their brand. The question is now, how can you create inspirational and creative campaigns that are authentic to your brand under these difficult conditions? 

Savvy brands are harnessing the power of user-generated content, or UGC for short. UGC is content created online, mainly on social media, by your most engaged customers, that can then be used in your campaigns. UGC can take many forms, with the most powerful being visuals, eg. photography or video. Partner with a content aggregator platform such as Miappi, and you can filter, license and curate UGC however you want for a small annual flat fee.

ITV’s latest ad campaign is smart because it doesn’t reflect our new normal life back at us directly, but instead embraces its limitations and puts its own viewers at the centre of its campaign. The result is a UGC-powered ad break that not only celebrates the charm and heart of DIY culture, it gives viewers an opportunity to become stars, a chance that is in short supply nowadays. And in news that’s set to make seasoned advertisers balk, it turns out that these ads actually outperformed the originals in terms of brand recall.
Of course, we’re not suggesting that everyone copy this approach. But it shows the power that UGC can have when in the right hands, especially when engaged customers are given clear instructions. And if you don’t have primetime TV airtime at your disposal, there are plenty of other cost-effective ways UGC can be deployed effectively at crucial points in the purchase path. Our Miappi platform allows brands to use plugins that deliver UGC to direct to the point of purchase to give the potential consumer that extra encouragement and reassurance before they take the plunge, something that could make all the difference as people become more conservative with their spending. And if you have ideas for other creative technological UGC, Miappi developers will work with you to realise your ideas effectively. Just make sure your customers know what hashtags to use and with the right permissions, you have an effective campaign that powers itself.



So don’t panic, just pause, take a step back, and bring those same creative values that you had before the crisis, to these new uncertain times. After all, limitations breed creativity.