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Three Psycho-Effective Marketing Strategies During COVID-19

Based on IAB’s survey of 400 buy-side decision-makers, 74% predicted that the coronavirus will have a bigger impact on advertising than the 2008 financial crisis. 63% have changed their ad messages as a result of the market, increasing two particular themes: (1) Mission-based marketing and (2) Cause-related marketing.

These numbers are significant and should remind us that though these strategic themes are a result of the COVID-19 crisis, they also signify the quality of ad messages consumers may expect from brands when the crisis passes. The trauma of COVID-19 on the collective imagination is yet to be mapped. Still, advertisers must be prepared for the psycho-relevant marketing techniques to be employed during and after the pandemic." to "Still, advertisers must be prepared to employ psycho-relevant marketing techniques during and after the pandemic.

Remain Top of Mind

French agency, Buzzman, is keeping Burger King top of mind with French consumers with the “Quarantine Whooper”. It is quite clear the company expects to have losses during the pandemic. However, they are also preparing for a new type of consumer post COVID-19.

Brands want to ensure that consumers remain invested in a company’s products and brand purpose. Consequently, despite all Burger King restaurants being closed or the scarcity of products, they have strategized to remain with the consumer, quarantined in the household.

Burger King will never lose its relevance to consumer’s lives as the company is delimiting ideas that consumers can easily continue their lives sans COVID-19 without a burger. Not just any burger, but Burger King’s. They have provided a shopping list or recipe so that consumers can make the company’s menu items in the safety of their homes.


Chief Executive Officer of neuromarketing company Neuro-Insight US Pranav Yanav believes that “[i]n terms of what (marketers) need to be doing, I think their biggest responsibility is to understand how people are feeling right now and actually give them that and not try to serve them their brand”.

He remarked that the industry is late to adapt to the needs of the coronavirus era. “All they're doing is doing the same thing that they used to do in their offices but over virtual meetings, which takes away from the impact of the physical presence.” Yanav is calling for industry professionals to make decisions based on current market research and the effervescent nature of current pop culture trends.

Consumer behaviour, during this worldwide crisis, is constantly changing and adapting to the news, the increase in COVID-19 numbers and scarcity. Specific industries and brands need to remain aware with research of these changes as it will inform consumer habits after the crisis. It is not just about the quantity of products consumed, but what is consumed and why.

The LAB conducted research with 100 Jamaican consumers in April 2020 and asked respondents what they were snacking on during the crisis. How are the habits displayed below different from pre-COVID 19 consumption patterns? How will the current snacking routines affect the post-COVID 19 market? These are questions Jamaican marketeers should be focused on answering as brands prepare for the future.

Valuing People Over Profits

Companies began surfing the COVID-19 crisis by positioning their brands outside of negative associations with the virus. Yanav remarked that few brands made solid creative stances as well as acted on their social responsibility at the beginning of the crisis.

He referenced Guinness’ St. Patrick’s Day ad as one of the brave and more creative stances. Guinness informed the public that parades and celebrations could be delayed for safety reasons. More than this, the brand donated $500,000 through its Guinness Gives Back Fund to help local communities. Valuing people over profits is the right place to begin with brands in Yanav’s estimation.

Consequently, there are no “negative” associations that the virus can induce on brands. However, there is an opportunity to take the harsh reality of the pandemic and create impactful messages which connect with consumers. Imagination lead by the promise of profits during this time will lose… BIG. Mindfulness of people, their circumstances and feelings, in ad messages, will create the authentic connection needed to keep brands relevant to consumers.

“No topic is off bounds in a situation like this for a fundamental shift in human perception during this time,” which is why Yanav believes marketers need to shift their thinking and spend time and money to look at the subconscious. If they don’t, he sees “a good 20% of media brands (will) fail over the next few years”.


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