Brands everywhere are affected by the coronavirus and each has to find how best to respond, with some needing to tackle the situation head-on; new research from Kantar explores what works and what doesn’t in these communications.

Detailed in WARC’s in-depth report, The strategies working in COVID-19 specific communications, Kantar has been researching consumer responses to ads directly addressing the situation.

Undertaken on Tuesday March 31st in the UK, with results ready the next day, the research explored how a handful of video ads (two TV, two Facebook), one digital display and one static print ad played among consumers.

Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer and, therefore, the point of access to the key essentials for much of the country, put out an ad showing the changes it would be making in its stores in order to keep people safe.

“This is not a time for business as usual – we all need to adapt, and Tesco have done a public service by calmly role-modelling the steps we should all take to protect ourselves and others,” said one panellist.

Perhaps more telling are the ads that didn’t play too well. For instance, Nike’s ‘Play inside, play for the world ad’, which carries the line "if you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance”. The ad is static and white with black lettering.

Many people simply misunderstood its meaning; “I thought it was a gambling ad, playing for millions of pounds,” said one person.

For many people, ads aren’t just an element of media consumption that bring a sense of normality, but – at their best – bring much needed entertainment. Respondents to Kantar panels said as much themselves.

“The ad took my mind off my worries while watching it,” said one survey participant. “At times like these, normality is key to not going crazy or over-worrying,” said another.

Sourced from WARC