Consumers’ needs are constantly changing. And, it’s up to marketers to adapt or go home. The pandemic-inspired ads might have been heartwarming the first three times, but after hearing the same buzz words over and over, these messages sound like propaganda.

When the pandemic first hit, consumers were receptive to pandemic-themed ads. The GlobalWebIndex survey of 13 markets in March 2020 found that only 37% of consumers wanted brands to market the same way they did before the pandemic. They expected businesses to lead the response to the pandemic.

But by May 2020, the consumers were ready to move on from pandemic-themed ads. Mitto’s survey of 7000 consumers across 7 demographics found that 41% of consumers were ready to move on from the covid-inspired ads.

Why so?

Pandemic-themed Ads Frequently Lack Authenticity

In these unprecedented times… the new normal… now more than ever…  We’re in this together… 

The emptiness of these bland messages is so loud that everyone can hear it.

Yet brands find themselves at a cross: they don’t want to be negative, but they also don’t want to sound ignorant. They end up with mediocre ads that sound like they all come from the same marketing agency.

The ads are not original. The underlying message that consumers hear is, “we don’t care about you; we just want your money.”

Everyone craves authenticity over anything during ‘uncertain times.’ They want to do business with brands that have values. But melancholy music and a metaphorical narration that ends with people clapping do not cut it.

What happened to creativity?

Instead of inflated ads, consumers want to see that a business truly cares.

GWI’s second survey in April 2020 found that 57% of consumers approved marketing messages with practical information on how to deal with the pandemic.

Covid 19-related Ads Often Miss The Product

The Coca-Cola ad narration throws in the superficial celebration for frontline workers, ending with the message that “we’ll be together again.” It speaks nothing of Coke, rather a reminder of why you need to buy a Coke: because Coke is for you (shown by the images).

As Amanda Hess notes in her New York Times article, “The coronavirus ad represents a pure feat of branding, of messaging freed from the merchandise.”

The pandemic-themed ads speak of hope and family without speaking for the commodity.

As brands avoid confronting the pandemic, they have strayed away from their products. Instead, they opt to market the feelings that using their product elicits. Though these tactics are part of marketing, these ads have often sold the pandemic more than the products.

Since we are living amid the pandemic, nobody needs a reminder that there’s a pandemic. As Jason Brogan puts it in his Washington Post article, “Watched together, they’re just advertisements for advertising.”

Though it’s crucial to constantly remind consumers about a product, marketers could be more creative than this.

The Way Forward

Rather than exploiting the pandemic to promote their products , brands need to provide value to their consumers. For example, Tesla’s ad demonstrated how buyers could stay safe while shopping performed very well.

Overall, ads that showcase how a business helps consumers stay safe or survive the pandemic have a higher potential than emotional ads.

Better still, can we just move on from pandemic-themed ads?