From toilets, posters and conference rooms to television and internet

Can you imagine that your ads mostly rotate on bus display screens, are printed on posters at bus stops, brighten up toilets and / or tables in bars? Probably you are, as these are very common forms that advertisers use. But in March 2020, the bars closed, public traffic stopped for a while, and the crowded streets became a ghost town. Where do you go with your ads now  when people no longer wait for the buses, don’t sit down for coffee in front of the ad, and don’t look at the toilet door while peeing?

Janja Zalar from STA inspired us with her article (Epidemija v oglaševanju začasno odložila aktivnosti in jih preselila predvsem na splet) to take an additional look in this direction and bring the changes in communication with the market even closer to you.

The truth is, we all feel how the epidemic has affected us personally. How attentive we have become to municipal boundaries and how much we (at least some of us) want coffee in a bar, even if it is cold, spilled, ‘bad’ or otherwise imperfect. We all also know how influential the situation has been to the schooling system, caterers and tourism industry. When everything changes, however, we communicators also need to adapt.

First, confusion strikes. As Zalar writes, at first the campaigns froze for a while, then they moved online. We communicators had to become especially resourceful in our work. Businesses began to close their doors overnight, and advertising was often the first thing they decided to save on. It was necessary to change tactics and focus on the products and services that people need while quarantined at their homes.

This wasn’t just happening here in Slovenia, but globally. For example Amazon, one of the biggest advertisers on Google, has drastically reduced the number of its ads and limited the advertised products only to products that benefit us at a time when we’re mostly at home. And not just in advertising; they (Amazon) also informed their vendors that they would not be a broker for non-essential products until mid-April, with the exception of baby products, health and personal care products, essential foods and pet products. At the same time, they started a blog on their website, where they inform the general public about the virus and the importance of vaccination.

Therefore, we need to consider different marketing tactics, such as guerrilla marketing. That is, the kind of marketing where we take advantage of a given social situation and address consumers where they are most present at that specific moment. In guerrilla marketing, we are talking about an unconventional and unpredictable form of marketing, where there are no rules, unless we set them ourselves. It’s all or nothing.

This method was well used by IKEA, which presented the home in a new light. Not as a ‘prison’ where the epidemic has locked us up, but as an opportunity to appreciate it.

The Marketing Magazin also highlighted some good examples of such “corona ads”, where advertisers used the situation for new forms of addressing, and companies used it for the development of new ways of doing business.

NLB Bank, like many others, has developed a system of doing business with their clients remotely in accordance with the situation, and persuaded its consumers to help their parents, who belong to risk groups, to help them and thus protect them. They also quickly adapted the slogan, “Apart, but still together. In everything that follows. ” and thus promised their consumers that they will do everything in their power to enable them to operate smoothly and safely, no matter what else happens.

With its advertisement, McDonalds draws attention to individual aspects of life that have not changed, but at the same time it also touches on the changes we had to deal with, with specific parts of the ad – like working out and dancing at home. In the ad, they don’t event miss the opportunity to, in their own way, thank the medical staff.

Some, however, turned to the promotion of physical distance, to which all citizens were forced into. Thus, Europlakat, in cooperation with the Agencija 101, persuaded us to take into account the measure of social distance, which was extremely difficult for most to adhere to. However, they achieved their goal in a creative way, as in a very short time they reached almost half of the group of people for whom the poster was targeting with their message.

What about the other communicators?

By no means were only advertisers experiencing obstacles. Just about every communicator had to turn around quickly and adapt their daily practices to the situation. In any case, the primary rule remained to eliminate all non-essential ‘face-to-face’ contacts and move them to the digital world. So we all got to know various platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, and many more could probably be found.

We have started helping the companies we work with to organize internal communication, the essence of which is trust in these times. We have written about trust in working remotely in one of our previous blogs, so we will not repeat ourselves here.

Some companies, such as EK Water Blocks, have had to move their biggest events, where they most actively present their business to the consumers, to the virtual world. As the world’s leading company in the field of water cooling, EKWB took the opportunity to reorganize its sales and marketing events into digital form. They organized a virtual #EK Expo, with which they managed to maintain relationships with their partners, stakeholders and the EK community. More than 38,000 individuals watched the keynote speech of the company’s founder Edvard König, proving that digital events are not an obstacle, but a great opportunity to upgrade communication with the company’s stakeholders. Recently, due to the success of the first, they also held the # 2 EK Expo, with which they build on their visibility and offer their consumers even more.

In any case, the situation we have been in for almost a year is not yet behind us and there is still a lot of room for improvement. And just as doctors learned from their patients, so did communicators learn from their clients.