Covid-19 is covered 24/7 through news outlets, social media feeds and brought up in every conversation we have. Conversations on social media, on the other hand, are indicating that consumers need a break from brands telling us that, “we’re all in this together” and that many Covid-19 ads look the same.
Using MullenLowe’s proprietary trend monitoring tool, Speedbag, we looked at how consumers are talking about “Covid-19 commercials” and “Coronavirus ads”. Speedbag is a combination of predictive analytics and human capital - social strategists, analysts and creatives to drive ideas and work ahead of trending moments. What we found is that most people are becoming increasingly tired of hearing what brands have to say about the pandemic.
Most people had negative things to say about the most recent Covid-19 ads, with 3x more negative sentiment than positive (30% negative and only 9% positive). Consumers are overly annoyed and strongly dislike hearing brands tell them that “we’re all in this together” (they feel like it is not authentic). They are turned off by opportunistic actions from brands (calling it “capitalism”), feel that most commercials are trying too hard and all messages sounded the exact same. Some consumers were even telling brands “it’s time to just be funny again.”
We also looked at how consumers talk about Covid-19 among themselves (not in reference to brands) and saw a much different conversation then the somber messaging most brands are releasing to the world. We found that a lot of consumers are publishing sarcastic, funny, meme-style content to find silver linings, comic relief, instil some sense of normalcy, and entertain themselves while self-quarantining. In fact, they are posting 60% more about the activities they are doing at home (no matter how weird) compared to the same time last year.
Using Speedbag, we discovered this 'self-quarantine' conversation, was quite large, comprising 26% of the entire Covid-19 related conversation in the past 4 weeks - 10% higher than the prior four weeks. In contrast, Covid-19 specific conversation decreased 5% during the same.
Additionally, we were also able to use the tool’s ‘Acceleration Score’ to see that this more fun conversation has begun to grow faster than the general Covid-19 conversation. For example, last week, the top five self-quarantine content-drove a 43% higher 'Acceleration Score' than general Covid-19, proving the growth. In other words, consumers are looking for light-hearted content to entertain themselves and have fun - not general supportive messaging or Covid-19 updates (that they have already seen on the news) from brands.
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, it made sense for brands to offer support. At this point, brands incorporating Covid-19 messaging should only do so if it is a brand fit, the content answers a direct question or concern, is helping those in need or is innovative solve. And just telling people “we’re all in this together” is not helping those in need or is an innovative solve.
Consumers are telling us that it’s okay for be brands to funny, entertaining and creative again. You may even say they’d prefer it.
- Written by Mike Cassell, SVP group strategy director; Jose Aniceto, SVP head of behavioural science; Maggie Carpenter, senior analyst of behavioural science at MullenLowe U.S.