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Marketing at the time of Covid-19

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

The birth of TV advertising dates back to 1941, in the United States, with the advertisement of Bulova, a watch manufacturing company, and since then, it totally reshaped consumers’ lives and decision-making process.

While each country around the globe took its own path in defining the rules of the game, the common denominator has always been and still is the high level of customer engagement that this marketing tool provides. Indeed, television reaches approximately 70% of a country’s population a day, 90% in a week and nearly everyone in a month.

TV advertising has undoubtedly shown a remarkable resilience during the last decades, holding the shot and extricate itself in the disruptive and challenging dynamics that innovation has brought to surface. But how will this historical, fascinating and tenacious media react to the Covid-19 pandemia?

First of all, it is important to consider that - being television one of the most consulted sources of information - not only daily news, but also advertisements have been adapted to the current situation. Indeed, there has been a drastic cut down in the number of private firms’ commercials, in order to give more space to governmental advertisements concerning the adoption of recommended safety measures. Furthermore, according to longer-term predictions, the current sanitary emergency would soon lead to a global shut down of sport events, while the number political and governmental advertisements mentioned above may even increase, leading to a rise in ad expenditure.

With all considered, that leaves us with the question: what have marketing experts deemed the best way to handle budget cuts and a reduction in TV ad exposure?

Due to the lack of consumption that is bound to occur due to the current quarantine, short-term solutions such as flash sales are not what will keep the consumer base loyal to the brand. Rather, as Mark Ritson underlines in his post Marketing in The Time of Covid-19, companies must focus on the long-term.  In a time of crisis, it is important for the private sector to build a relationship with the public, to work with people rather than separate from them. Effective marketing can begin simply through contributive and responsible actions. Examples of this include Armani’s and Chiara Ferragni’s direct donations or LVMH’s commitment to producing hand sanitiser.

Morever, the total stop of sport broadcasting may lead to an increase in consumers’ use of television substitutes, such as streaming platforms, which would become a valid alternative for advertisers to promote their products. If so, the already existing trend of switching from television to digital commercials would inevitably increase at a higher rate than usual, potentially contributing to the end of an era.

To conclude, while television has proved one of the most effective ways for companies to spread their message due to its capacity to reach large audiences, in the times of COVID-19, a pandemic, it’s best to leave space for government sponsored messages and allow for safety precautions to diffuse. Being in 2020, there is an array of digital platforms to exploit in order to build-up brand image and brand experience. However, what is crucial for companies now in order to ensure a healthy relationship with its consumers in the long-run, is to go back to basics by connecting with its customers, listening to their concerns, and showing them compassion.

Written by: Maddalena Allegri and Roberta Calvanese

Edited by: Nicola Curci

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