- Consumers are OK with brands addressing the coronavirus pandemic in advertising, according to a new Ace Metrix report, with 42% of people saying "yes, any mention is OK" and another 44% saying it "depends on the message and/or brand." Only 10% of consumers said it is not OK to discuss the current crisis in ads.
- Guinness' recent "St. Patrick's Day Message" spot showed positive responses on scoring for likeability, relatability and information delivered, with seven in ten beer drinkers showing increased purchase intent and many calling it their favorite beer ad of all time.
- Ford's recent "Built to Lend a Hand" and "Built for Right Now" ads were the first to directly mention COVID-19. The former was better received by consumers, who liked its strong visuals and narrative, per the research.
Consumers want to talk about what is going on, including with brands, according to Ace Metrix's latest research, which is among the first to explore consumers' emotional reactions to coronavirus-related ads.
Two of the first brands to address the virus and its associated illness in their ads — Ford and Guinness — both elicited strong positive responses from consumers. Guinness ran a St. Patrick's Day ad with a promise of donating $500,000 to communities affected by the pandemic. Ford is running ads to offer financial relief programs that will help customers impacted by the pandemic defer payments on new car purchases.
The findings suggest that brands can make a connection with messages that are understanding and supportive. Seventy-five percent of consumers surveyed also said brands should step up and help out during the pandemic. Ads addressing the pandemic should not just use words, but should show actions and good storytelling, according to survey responses.
Some brands have already pivoted their strategies to express concern about the pandemic while others are trying to figure out if and how to advertise at a time when the country has come to a standstill and people are socially distancing themselves.
Carmakers Hyundai and Toyota quickly edited planned ads to show support for both employees and customers. Like Ford, Hyundai has an offer for promoting a financial relief program that lets customers who become unemployed or sick from the pandemic miss up to six months of car payments on new car purchases.
As non-essential businesses close from state to state and workers across industries face layoffs, brands have also pulled spots that might come across as in poor taste during this time. KFC, for instance, canceled its "Finger Lickin' Good" spots. The message could come across as tone deaf to the health crisis as it goes against good hygiene practices being promoted by public health experts like thorough hand-washing.
Coors also pulled a March Madness ad that promoted working from home, which involved drinking beer and watching games. With many people working from home now to prevent the spread of the virus and March Madness canceled for the same reason, the message no longer possessed the right tone.