Commercials Amidst COVID-19…

The newfound reality of a coronavirus-stricken world has forced brands to attempt to adjust as best as they can. Commercials and advertisements have had to take a completely different route to appeal to the public in these troubling and isolating times, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With more people at home than ever before, advertisers expected a large rise in viewership and had to scramble to provide something to show them. Many audio and video commercials previously relied on encouraging people to leave their houses to draw in customers, so things had to be adapted. From medicine commercials that featured large gatherings in grassy fields to restaurant advertisements with an image of fine dining, many businesses were at a loss for what to highlight. 

Some advertising campaigns were canceled altogether in fear of seeming insensitive to the global pandemic. Resorts, cruises and even the infamous “Finger Lickin’ Good” slogan from KFC were all deemed inappropriate for the precarious situation we’re faced with. 

After countless cancellations from advertisers, television companies were left to fill in the empty spots with innovation. For example, some ads were made with recycled material and unused footage, while others were filmed entirely through Zoom. Apple created the “Creativity Goes On” campaign, which featured a series of uplifting clips from their users and celebrities.

Many brands chose to showcase services as opposed to products. For example, Pizza Hut created advertisements that announced their contactless delivery. Ford, Hyundai and Citibank, among others, all presented leniency deals on payments or interests. 

However, in a time when people are forced to stay inside and focus on essentials, many brands are found with nothing to advertise at all. This has led to a wave of awareness commercials that feature no products or services whatsoever. They mostly feature clips that are easily filmed without widespread contact, such as essential workers in face masks, empty city streets or other socially conscious images. 

Almost all of these commercials end with a series of words or phrases that are meant to uplift and bring the community together. Walmart featured, “Here for you,” while Facebook said, “We’re never lost if we can find each other.” It can only be assumed that the brands are hoping to gain loyalty from their customers by showing that they care and providing a positive message. 

While many companies have certainly showcased their creativity, it’s impossible to predict what they will rely on to fill up commercial space as the need for isolation and quarantine continues.