More than 90% of respondents to a new Association of National Advertisers (ANA) survey indicated they adjusted their creative marketing messaging since mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The survey, “Creative Messaging Development and Production Given COVID-19,” revealed that 46% of respondents said those adjustments have been substantial. At the same time, 42% noted adjustments were moderate and 12% said they were minimal.
In-house agencies were identified as being most important for producing new creative assets, followed by other internal teams, external agencies, and media partners. Some 55% identified in-house agencies as being very important for producing new creative assets, while 42% said other internal teams were key to asset production. At the same time, 26% of respondents said external agencies were very important in the development of new messaging while 22% cited media partners as making very important contributions.
The online survey was conducted March 30–31 and there were 196 respondents.
“This important new report shows that even in a time of severe crisis, our members are figuring out ways to get the job done — and fast,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Marketers should be proud of the teams they have created, who have displayed remarkable skill and flexibility in their ability to meet the incredible creative challenges posed by the current pandemic.”
Verbatim comments from respondents who made substantial adjustments to their messaging included:
- Our messaging has pivoted from marketing to providing essential/helpful information to all audiences.
- More emotional messaging around social distancing and “we are here for you” versus straight-up sales messages.
- Messaging has changed to acknowledge schools closing and more social distancing has taken place. We wanted to make sure our marketing wasn’t tone-deaf.
- Refocused messaging to speak to the empathy of what our communities are facing, showing how we are here to help.
- Backed off lifestyle imagery, particularly around travel, spring break, and gathering in large groups.
The survey also showed that only 39% of respondents indicated that producing new creative assets posed a challenge. Reasons cited:
- Producing any new assets is tough with sheltering-in-place rules.
- No crews, studios, or talent. Limited to recuts of existing work, all done remotely from homes of agency or production company people.
- Studios have been closed. Production crews aren’t able to work.
- Everyone is working remotely but all new assets are due immediately.
According to the survey results, 89% of respondents said they plan to continue adjusting their messaging in view of the current environment. Reasons cited for additional fine-tuning included plans to make messaging that is empathetic to the current situation, changing language for sensitivity purposes, and changing any lifestyle images depicting people in close proximity at events.