Advertising Can’t Stop Coronavirus—But It Can Still Help

Advertising doesn’t save lives. I’ve uttered these words many times before because I feel strongly that the work I do will never compare to that of healthcare professionals, teachers, first responders and others who are asked to stand on the front lines in our most trying times. By acknowledging this and saying it out loud every morning I feel that I’m level setting with myself and those around me.

Imagine my surprise when for the first time in my career I can say, with confidence, that advertisers and their partners can truly help. Scary, right? You might ask, what about our businesses that are being negatively impacted?  Let’s flip that thought on its head. The more we help now, the faster we can resume our everyday lives and businesses. Here are four ways advertisers can help ease the current crises.

Be good humans

First and foremost, we must be vulnerable and human with our coworkers. These are extremely challenging times for everyone and ignoring that fact helps no one. Send a note to those you work closest with to let them know that there will be times in the day where you’ll be exercising, taking a walk or where they can expect to hear the songs from Frozen II blasting in the background of that Zoom meeting.

Our economy needs brand voices more than ever

For those of you who work directly with brands, you must encourage them to modify but keep spreading their messages. Advertising, in its most basic form, is the act of describing or drawing attention to a product or service. While now might not be the best time to sell a car or a pair of sneakers, it’s an absolutely vital time to be socially responsible and influence brand loyalists to take the right actions.

As a Nike enthusiast myself, I was thrilled to see its  “play inside, play for the world” initiative encouraging social distancing.  Yes, there will be criticism that Nike and others are capitalizing on Covid-19, but now is not the time for brands to back down. The world needs these voices now more than ever.

Make way for PSAs

As messages and public service announcements from the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization and more arrive, we must help spread the word to every corner of the world. After all, reaching consumers in their natural consumption habitats with information that resonates, anywhere, anytime on any device is our strength as an industry.

Consider reaching out to the AdCouncil, as the organization is running point on the government-led ad response to Covid-19. I know what you’re thinking. You need to monetize every impression of your own inventory, especially during these financially challenging times.  But remember, what you put in now will undoubtedly help us move forward as a society more quickly and in turn, bring your business back to life sooner.

Support truth-tellers

Publishers across the globe are being punished by brands that are deploying blanket semantic blacklists of words like coronavirus and COVID-19 to protect their images. When safety and suitability are called into question by these brands, it forces premium, fact-based content to be deprioritized.

As an industry, we must stand together and educate brands on the trickle-down impact that these naive actions can have on our industry as a whole.

As a parent, partner and citizen I implore you, now is not the time for fear. We must lean in together. From home.