Levity, Humor and Escapism During COVID-19

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Levity, Humor and Escapism During COVID-19

Companies such as Hotel.com and Hershey’s and been forced to replace their adverts to avoid using humor amid the increasing spread of COVID-19. Kantar and Sway Group marketing agencies have favored use of humor, levity, or escapism during COVID-19. The requested information about the companies and other insights is presented below.
  • Amidst the growing spread of COVID-19, some brands have focused on making their marketing communications relevant. These brands are integrating elements of the pandemic ranging from emotions of fear and doubt to preventive measures like social distancing into their advertisements and marketing communications.
  • Some good examples are Netflix that integrates the use of hand-washing memes and Steak-Umm that uses a sense of humor in a recent tweet that read;
  • Life is full of uncertainty and mystery. The more we learn the more we realize how little we know. In times of doubt and existential angst it’s comforting to know one thing for sure: frozen beef sheets are good.”
  • Some brands have had to remove, halt, or change some of their marketing communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have done so to ensure that the marketing communications do not send the wrong message to the target audiences regarding the pandemic and how to avoid and prevent its spread.
  • Hotels.com had to replace one of its commercials that featured evoked humor. The commercial named “My Dream” featured Captain Obvious, the company’s mascot, in plane with his fingers dipping in a passenger’s bag of snacks while his hand is against another passenger.
  • The commercial was replaced by another where Captain Obvious uses a hand sanitizer first before snacking with a clear message to the social distance and stay at home.
  • Hershey’s replaced several new ads because they featured people hugging and shaking hands practices that are not recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, brands are being encouraged to re-evaluate their marketing communications with a view of making them more relevant even when using humor, levity, and escapism. For example, brands are encouraged to keep their marketing messages positive using unique virtual escapism.
  • Some brands have turned to social media as a powerful channel for their marketing messages. The Planters brand demonstrates this through its new spokescharacter, Baby Nut.
  • Just weeks after COVID-19 pushed many lighthearted social media campaigns out, Planters took to social media, especially Twitter, where it uses the Baby Nut character to create escapism through posting animated tales developed by kids.

Case Studies

Kantar Case Study

  • The media research and marketing agency, Kantar, in a recent case study found that using gentle humor for marketing communication during COVID-19 is good. According to the study, an Aldi Easter egg advertisement that employed gentle humor was received very well by the target audience.
  • In yet another beer ad by Anheuser-Busch, the use of dry humor seems to have a good reception. The decision to use humor in these marketing communications is driven on the desire to create a much-needed break from the sad news on COVID-19 pandemic.

Sway Group Case Study

  • The influencer marketing agency, Sway Group, supports the use of humor, levity, and escapism in marketing communication, especially at this time of COVID-19. The agency considers humor as the best anecdote in such difficult times.
  • In a recent survey, the agency identified and shared several memes that feature humor in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. One such humorous meme features Netflix as shown in the diagram below.

Diagram 1: Funny Meme

  • The humorous meme helps people manage a smile and shift their attention a little from the sad coronavirus news while marketing Netflix as a perfect solution to beat boredom while staying home. No metrics of the success of the meme are provided.


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