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Facts Over Fear: How the Advertising Industry is Handling the Coronavirus

From its negative effect on the stock market to employers rethinking the way we work to the mad dash at the grocery store for toilet paper, coronavirus is changing how our world functions. But all hope is not lost.

The advertising and marketing industries are doing their part to stop the spread of the virus and help keep Americans healthy. Read on to see the five ways the industry is addressing the virus and encourage your team to adopt similar policies.

Reviewing content, avoiding insensitivities

With more people working remotely and social distancing, ads that were once perceived as humorous no longer feel appropriate. Hershey just pulled an ad showing strangers hugging and shaking hands after receiving chocolate, while Coors will no longer launch their spot called “Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely” around March Madness. After coronavirus-related complaints, KFC suspended its “Finger Lickin Good” campaign in the United Kingdom.

Over the coming weeks and months, it will be important for brands to avoid any insensitivities associated with COVID-19.

Allowing employees to work from home

To reduce person-to-person transmission, companies across the country are encouraging employees to work from home. Most notably, Google North America, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have all encouraged employees to work remotely.

Live streaming events

With a virus that’s so contagious, large gatherings of people could be dangerous. As a result, numerous large-scale events have either been cancelled (SXSW Festival, Google’s I/O conference, E3 and more) or postponed (Coachella, TED).

Media brands and award shows, like A+E Networks and The One Show, are turning their internal and external events into remote affairs and offering live streams of their speakers. IAB has recommended that NewFront presenters stream their events instead of hosting in-person gatherings, and Snapchat will stream their Partners Summit due to coronavirus concerns.

Delaying Shoots

Across the industry, we or our clients are halting video shoots to avoid further contact. It may feel like our business is at a standstill when this happens, but it’s an opportunity for us to flex our creative muscles and explore other strategies for conveying our messages in the meantime.

Stopping the Spread of Misinformation

Social media has become a breeding ground for misinformation and myths about the coronavirus. Brands are helping to combat this by consistently referring audiences to the two leading healthcare organizations that know the virus the best: the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Facebook has provided free ads to the WHO so they can keep the world properly informed, and the SOS Alert in Google Search is connecting people to news and tips from the WHO. In addition, YouTube and Instagram (via COVID-19 or coronavirus hashtags) are directing users to the WHO, CDC and other local authoritative organizations. Twitter released a blog post outlining how brands should communicate about the virus with examples of brands with appropriate tweets, and LinkedIn’s editors are populating an official coronavirus feed with reliable information.

Panicking about the coronavirus will not do us any good but limiting exposure and following proper protocols from health officials will ensure we come out on the other side.


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