What is the next step for your brand? Going dark is not an option. Yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, a simple post could turn into a PR disaster. Which makes this decision harder than ever.

We put together this "Covid-19 Marketing Flash-Advisor" to help.

What are you planning to do?

What is this campaign or communication piece about?

What is the advice about?

Are your products or services usually linked with or requiring any activity taking place out of home?

What change are you considering?

Is it a product / service that is (or could become) truly essential / critical during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Will you be giving away this product for free?

That is remarkable. Thank you for your contribution. Beyond the pleasure of doing the right thing, it is also good for your brand! In a 2018 Futerra survey of over 1000 consumers - 88% of consumers said they wanted brands to help them make a difference. In a 2019 survey by Certus Insights, 70% of people say they want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues. Finally, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by the 4A’s, 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. If you need some communication support for this initiative, at TBWA\RAAD, we want to help. Just contact us at dan.paris@tbwa.com

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Is it something good, helpful or useful or entertaining for the community at large?

Will doing this initiative now break (or encourage to break) WHO recommendations or your local government regulations for your employees or customers?

Don't do it. If it is still relevant after the Covid-19 is over, consider doing it then.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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What kind of budget change are you planning?

As a popular adage says, "When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise. " Maybe you are selling disinfecting wipes (which sales have gone up 595%), bottled water (up 275%) or hand wash (up 219%) and your sales are going through the roof. No matter the reason, if you are increasing your marketing budget, here are three pieces of advice to help your make the right choices: 1. Go where people are (social media of course, but also TV, e-commerce, online content and gaming platforms to start with). 2. Invest in building your brand and your consumer experience (this will have impact on your sales and market share after the crisis is resolved) 3. Look beyond growth and profit and think about how you can help the community - especially those in need (healthcare professionals, homeless, financially vulnerable people, etc.).

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You probably should not do it. Many brands have jumped on this bandwagon by playing with their logos and several got slammed in the media and social platforms for it. Those kind of messages can feel too self-centered and meaningless during this time. Try to think about what is truly the underlying message that you'd like to share and consider how to express it more authentically. You can create some real damage to your brand by being inappropriate or lacking empathy. In a recent Kantar survey, only 8% of consumers felt brands should stop advertising. 75% also said it would be wrong for a brand to take advantage of the crisis to promote itself. So it’s all a matter of HOW you do it.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Does your communication involve a joke or pun or gimmick involving corona?

You probably should not do it. Many brands have jumped on this bandwagon by playing with their logos and several got slammed in the media and social platforms for it. Those kind of messages can feel too self-centered and meaningless during this time. Try to think about what is truly the underlying message that you'd like to share and consider how to express it more authentically. You can create some real damage to your brand by being inappropriate or lacking empathy. In a recent Kantar survey, only 8% of consumers felt brands should stop advertising. 75% also said it would be wrong for a brand to take advantage of the crisis to promote itself. So it’s all a matter of HOW you do it.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Is the advice that you want to give relevant to your area of expertise as a brand?

Will it be helpful to people during the Covid-19 pandemic?

In a study that assessed global consumer sentiment around the coronavirus pandemic, Kantar found that 77% of respondents expect their brands to be helpful in what has become "the new everyday life." Only 8 percent feel they should stop advertising. In this case, it is probably a good idea to create advice-based content. Make sure that any advice you give, follows WHO recommendations and your local authority guidelines. Bring your advice to life in a clear and effective way that matches your brand tone, your audience and the topic tackled. Finally, we recommend as a general rule to only give advice about things that are relevant to your business and that you have an expertise in. For instance, a hair care brand can create helpful or fun content around the "quarantine haircut". A business freezone could make content around working remotely and ensuring business continuity. A technology brand, could make content about how to keep electronics clean, all the way to how to get your home office set up.

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We recommend as a general rule to only give advice about things that are relevant to your business and that you have an expertise in. For instance, a hair care brand can create helpful or fun content around the "quarantine haircut". A business freezone could make content around working remotely and ensuring business continuity. A technology brand, could make content about how to keep electronics clean, all the way to how to get your home office set up. In a study that assessed global consumer sentiment around the coronavirus pandemic, Kantar found that 77% of respondents expect their brands to be helpful in what has become "the new everyday life."

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Does the tone feel human, empathetic and authentic?

Does the tone fit your brand tone and language?

Then you should probably do it and add a bit of hope and positivity in the world. We also recommend thinking about what actions you can take to support your community or groups who are at risk such as frontliners. This will allow you to have a tangible impact. It will be good for the world, for the brand and your soul! According to a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by the 4A’s, 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a 2019 survey by Certus Insights, 73% of people agree that their expectations around social responsibility are the same for small companies and large companies

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Before moving ahead, you should take a moment to pause and consider if your tone is appropriate to the context. It might be, but it also might not. For instance, in a recent Kantar survey, 47% of respondents said brands should "avoid humorous tones" in marketing during this crisis. This is not a strict rule as we need lightheartedness in our everyday as an emotional relief. Still, these are sensitive times and a PR crisis can easily happen so take the time to think. Ask for advice from your agency or reach out to people around you who are willing to share their honest advice.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Why does your message not fit your usual brand tone?

You should probably go ahead and communicate your message of support or hope. Make sure that you acknowledge why you are employing a different brand tone than usual. Explain that it is a show of respect and a self-awareness of the current situation. Don't be afraid to show your vulnerability and humanity. Be empathetic and real. Be supportive and positive. This matters more than ever. For instance, the 2017 Stackla survey shows that 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. This is especially true of younger generations with an overwhelming 90% of Millennials saying brand authenticity is important.

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Before sharing your message of support, you should probably reconsider why you are stepping away from your brand usual tone and language. Would it be possible to rework your message to be both appropriate to the current context and true to your brand? Remember the importance of consistency in forging associative mental networks that build brand imprints and preferences.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Does the tone feel human, empathetic and authentic?

Does the tone fit your brand tone and language?

Then you should probably do it and add a bit of hope and positivity in the world. We also recommend thinking about what actions you can take to support your community or groups who are at risk such as frontliners. This will allow you to have a tangible impact. It will be good for the world, for the brand and your soul! According to a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by the 4A’s, 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a 2019 survey by Certus Insights, 73% of people agree that their expectations around social responsibility are the same for small companies and large companies

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Will it be useful right after the Covid-19 is over as part of the recovery?

Prepare your communication but take a step back to consider if it is best shared now or later to optimise its relevance and usefulness.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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You probably should park this communication until later.

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Will this change make it possible to buy, consider or explore your product / service while practising social distancing and staying home?

Is the product / service sold or showcased in this new channel or touchpoint relevant to the Covid-19 era? (Ie. do people need to purchase, use or consume it now?)

It is probably a good idea to go ahead and develop this new distribution channel or innovation in the consumer journey. Just make sure that you follow WHO recommendations as well as your local market regulations.

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It is probably positive for your business to open this new channel / innovate your consumer journey. It is likely a good step towards digitization of your business which is key for the future. However, if your product / service is not currently relevant, you must be careful about how you will communicate this. It might be a better idea to wait until the Covid-19 crisis is over to launch.

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It is probably a good idea to postpone the launch until after the Covid-19 crisis.

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What kind of price change are you planning to make

Why are you increasing prices?

You should probably reconsider increasing your prices. If there's an increase in demand, that means that people need your product / service. You are in the lucky position to be in one of the sectors not affected negatively during this crisis. It is an opportunity to show decency and generosity. If you need a statistic, to show you that it is wrong: in a recent Kantar survey, 75% also said it would be wrong for a brand to take advantage of the crisis.

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If your product / service is truly critical and essential during this time, consider if it is possible for you to absorb the increase in cost. If you honestly cannot do it, you should probably be transparent and explain why this increase is taking place.

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Even if it is not critical, is your product still relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic? For instance, would it be consumed now while people are at home?

Will launching this new product / service now break (or encourage to break) WHO recommendations or your local government regulations for your employees or customers?

Don't do it.

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You are probably ok to go ahead and launch. Be careful how you communicate to avoid irrelevance and sounding opportunistic. In a recent Kantar survey, only 8% of consumers felt brands should stop advertising. 75% also said it would be wrong for a brand to take advantage of the crisis to promote itself. 47% of respondents said brands should "avoid humorous tones" in marketing.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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Will you be pricing it at cost?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

That is an appreciated contribution to this difficult situation. Thank you for your support. Beyond the pleasure of doing the right thing, it is also good for your brand! In a 2018 Futerra survey of over 1000 consumers - 88% of consumers said they wanted brands to help them make a difference. In a 2019 survey by Certus Insights, 70% of people say they want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues. Finally, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by the 4A’s, 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

To make more informed decisions you can also download our Backslash Covid-19 Report for this week

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

In the current global crisis, if your product / service is truly critical / essential, you should truly take a moment to reconsider your priorities. What can you do to help? How can you make your product / service more accessible - especially to the populations in need?

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

You should probably get your product / service ready but wait until the core of the pandemic crisis is over before launching it. Launching a product / service that is irrelevant right now will be a waste of budget and might actually backfire. There are other ways that you can keep your brand top of mind. Ways that can be more relevant and even helpful to the broader community.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Why are you considering decreasing your price?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

It is a common temptation in a recession is to lower prices or be heavy-handed in promotions to incentivize purchase. Research shows that while this is an effective short-term driver of sales, it can have a negative long-term impact on your brand and customer experience overall. So be careful with how you approach discounting, and try to focus instead on mid and lower-funnel marketing activities like creating an intuitive online consumer journey. Don't stop building your brand so that when people are ready to buy again, you will be in a better position.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Making your product / service more affordable because it is in high demand and that people who need it can't afford it, is generous and laudable. Make sure that you are crystal clear as to why you are doing this, people who buy your product shouldn't feel like this is the new price point but understand that you are essentially sacrificing for the common good. Communication within the in-store / online point- of-sale is probably a good channel for this message.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

It is difficult to map out all the potential situations that every business is facing. But keep in mind that if your business is in trouble, lowering prices can be effective on the short term but is likely to have a negative impact on the long term. Try to explore other disruptive approaches to promoting your product / service. Could it be used for something else? Could it be distributed through new channels that are more relevant? Could you reach a new audience? Could you innovate within your consumer journey? Could you reach out to your community?

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Does it benefit a specific group of people beyond your business (for instance homeless, healthcare professionals, elderly, etc.)?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Will doing this initiative now break (or encourage to break) WHO recommendations or your local government regulations for your employees or customers?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Don't do it. If it is still relevant after the Covid-19 is over, consider doing it then.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Will/should this initiative benefit your business?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Times of crisis can open up many opportunities (especially for cash rich businesses). While you size up the different paths you can take, make sure that you weigh in the risks and don't endanger your core business. Consider the human cost of your decision as well as how you can grow with a humane approach in this time of global crisis.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

That's great. You should do it. Supporting those who are most vulnerable and those who are putting themselves at risk like the healthcare professionals is really important today right now. Make sure that you don't break WHO recommendations or your local government regulations while doing it. If you need a communication expert to make sure your initiative reaches your target and help you shape your message, contact us at dan.paris@tbwa.com, we will be happy to help.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Will/should this initiative benefit your business?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Will this initiative benefit your employees or partners?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

It is important to be there for your people especially in this time of uncertainty and anxiety. Before you act, truly consider what is the best way to help. How can you show support? How can you be there for them? In the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 71% of employees agree it is critically important for their CEO to respond to challenging times. Employers were also seen as the most trusted institution - more than the media or the government. Times of crisis are the time to pay back this trust to employees by being there for them and supporting them through the crisis.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Hmmm. Did you truly fill in all the previous questions correctly? If yes, then take a moment to think and consider why you want to do what you are planning. Is it appropriate right now? Does it help anyone? Is it worth the effort?

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Have you seen a drastic drop in sales during this period?

COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Reducing advertising spend often seems like a logical way to bolster short-term profitability during a recession. Be careful as it can also deliver negative consequences. Advertising has both long- and short-term effects on brands with a ratio of long- to short-term effects of around 3:1. Brands who stop communicating see their brand image deteriorate and once declines set in, they can be hard to reverse even after the crisis is over. However if your sales have collapsed you might not have a choice, here are three pieces of advice to help mitigate the impact of your decreasing budget: 1. Protect your brand health by not cutting the channels that can help your shape your image and maintain mental availability or you will have a hard time recovering 2. Focus on the customer and delivering a great experience through the journey 3. Don't overdo the promotional tactics as while they can be an effective short-term driver of sales, they can have a negative long-term impact on your brand and customer experience overall

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

Reducing advertising spend often seems like a logical way to bolster short-term profitability during a recession. Be careful as it can also deliver negative consequences. Advertising has both long- and short-term effects on brands with a ratio of long- to short-term effects of around 3:1. Brands who stop communicating see their brand image deteriorate and once declines set in, they can be hard to reverse even after the crisis is over. If your sales haven't dropped or not by much, try to keep your budget steady or at least aim for a steady share of voice. Even better, as your competitors budgets might be dropping too, an increase in share of voice could help you come out of the crisis with an increased market share.

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COVID-19
Marketing Flash-Advisor

If your sales are not suffering, you should probably avoid dropping your marketing spend. Reducing advertising spend can deliver negative consequences. Advertising has both long- and short-term effects on brands with a ratio of long- to short-term effects of around 3:1. Brands who stop communicating see their brand image deteriorate and once declines set in, they can be hard to reverse even after the crisis is over. If your sales are up, it might be an opportunity to increase your spend and your share of voice which could help you come out of the crisis with an increased market share.

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