Like the rest of the world, we’re trying to keep calm and carry on…from the comfort of our living rooms. Working from home hasn’t stopped our chatterthough all we’ve been talking about is coronavirus. As well as upping our hand washing regime, we’ve been watching carefully to see whose marketing has been affected, and how. Some are struggling, some are thrivingand some are learning when it’s best to keep quiet.

Corona’s unlucky break

You’ve got to feel sorry for Corona. It didn’t do nuffin’, but it’ll go down in history for having been in the wrong place at the wrong timeor ratherfor having had the wrong name at the wrong time.

We all know that associating coronavirus with Corona beer is a little silly, and yet a PR firm in America has thrown together some questionable research claiming that “38% of beer-drinking Americans wouldn’t buy Corona now”. While Corona is insisting that sales haven’t been affected, you have to admit that s**t tends to stickespecially on social media. Who knows, perhaps the humble lime will get it in the neck, too. 

The good news is that Corona has handled things remarkably well. The strategy? Silence. Corona has avoided acknowledging or publicly commenting on the unfortunate name similarity. After all, professing innocence with hands flapping in the air would (absurdly) fuel an image of guilt. The best marketing tactic at this pointdifficult though it might beis to just keep schtum. We’re interested to see how Corona recovers once this all blows over.

Marketing hell for Purell 

Unlike Corona’s tactical silence, Purell is on marketing lockdown during the pandemic thanks to its legal team. While Purell’s competitors might be able to sneakily promote their cleaning products, Purell needs to tread more carefully because it’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and isn’t sanctioned to talk about whether or not its product actually staves off coronavirus. 

And the FDA has been looking over Purell’s shoulder a lot recently. It sent the company a warning letter back in January about the website’s statement that Purell “prevents disease from the Ebola virus, norovirus, and influenza.” Now, Purell may be the behemoth of sanitisers, but that is a pretty brazen claim, particularly as the product is almost entirely made up of ethanoland no one is actually sure how effective that is.

It’s not just regulators that are censoring adsthe general public is too. There have been a number of complaints to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over KFC’s recent “finger lickin’ good” campaign which might’ve had a better reception, had it not been launched only a couple of weeks ago. Understandably, the ad has been thought to conflict with the increased emphasis on handwashing and the whole not touching your face thing. KFC have put a halt to it for now, but are hoping to bring it back at a later date. It might be a good idea to combine its return with a health-focused messagesomething along the lines of promoting the free wipes that come with the meal. After all, the food might be finger lickin’ good, but hygiene comes first.

Netflix has got you covered

One man’s misfortune is always another man’s opportunityand Deliveroo and Netflix are doing pretty well during the pandemic as people prepare to batten down the hatches. There’s the slight issue of overloading network capacity, however, and Netflix are having to reduce resolution to accommodate demand. That’s ok, thoughwe don’t mind a slightly more grainy “Better Call Saul”, so long as we can keep watching it. 

And we can stream our favourite shows in safety, too, because Deliveroo has just launched a no-contact service with an option on the app for people to request for their food to be left on the doorstep. Lounge-mode is taking full effect, for sureit’s time to relax and wait for a hazmat-suited cyclist to arrive with your pad Thai.

Aside from the sales surge for digital and delivery-based services, the capacity of other retailers to adapt to consumers staying at home is being testedwhich is particularly challenging for those that stock the kind of products people like to see, touch and take their time over. Jewellery store Anoushka is responding to this by increasing its reliance on messaging app, Hero, to help connect shoppers with in-store teams through text and video. Perhaps coronavirus will accelerate the future of virtual, immersive shopping?

Coronavirus in images

Data can be super prettyand when it’s done well, that’s got to be a good thing. We’ve been on the lookout for the clearest data visualisations to help make sense of the pandemic.

  1. The power of visualisation
    A look at how visuals can make all the difference to the ways we understand, or misinterpret, data. (Fast Company)
  2. Workers’ exposure to risk
    This interactive scatter diagram shows which professions are most exposed to coronavirusit shows an upsetting correlation between low wage and elevated risk. Scroll further down to look at the heat map which makes the data stand out better.  (NY Times)
  3. Flattening the curve
    A simplified simulation that shows how coronavirus spreadsand why social distancing might be more effective at stemming the spread than attempted quarantine. (Washington Post)

Posted by John on 23 March 2020