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How Advertisers Are Learning to Pivot in a Pandemic

A pandemic has changed the way we’re living our lives, and this includes the way brands communicate with consumers. Here’s how they’re learning to adjust.

Revolution Digital  |  April 7, 2020
How Advertisers Are Learning to Pivot in a Pandemic

One month ago, the world was a different place. We’d go to work on crowded buses and subways, arriving at a crowded building where we would meet by the water cooler to talk about last night’s Bachelor. We’d visit with family and friends without a care in the world and less than six feet between us. Now, we spend our days in isolation. Our near future has definitively changed, forcing brands to either panic or adapt. Here are 5 ways we saw companies learn while adjusting our the “new normal.”

Adapt to What’s Acceptable in Ads vs. What’s Not
As of late, public health memes have been focusing largely on how the Coronavirus pandemic is disrupting daily routines. And while a well-played “Karen” meme is a fun way to empathize, marketers need to be mindful of what and where they’re sharing content, as people everywhere are turning to different platforms to seek information and share concerns. “The findings [suggest] that people are looking for serious-minded messaging but are not averse to that information being shared via formats like memes.”

How to Stay Relevant in the Midst of Information Overload
With such an overwhelming news story developing on a daily basis, it’s safe to expect that consumers may not be as invested in advertising as they once were. To avoid being overlooked or ignored completely by the constant Breaking News alerts, brands are shifting their creative strategies and media budgets to be mindful of the changing environment. Whether offering levity as a distraction or helping in the form of tips or news, brands, and their agencies, can offer their consumers a range of content they are engaging with right now.

Be Nimble with Communications Tactics and Messaging
In what’s being described as the travel industry’s biggest crisis since 9/11, airlines, ride-sharing apps, cruise lines and other modes of transit have had to adjust their communications to reach–and reassure–consumers en masse by taking it off the road (or water or air). “So far, brands in the mobility space have been taking to social media and email to relay their messages over other forms of paid media.” But these shifts go beyond travel. All brands must reassess their efforts to reach people where they are since the people can’t go to them.

Shift Focus and Tap Into the Relevancy of Crisis
Cabin fever is alive and well in the time of social distancing. With so much time on their hands and a desire to find distractions, brands have an opportunity to shift their pre-Coronavirus focus to offer content that is super relevant to consumers. Usually the go-to for all of the happening events around the city, Time Out magazine has temporarily rebranded to ‘Time In’ to deliver the best of staying in by “giving fun things to do at home, from guides to the most uplifting movies currently available over streaming services to the best takeout and delivery services in the city.”

Keep it Flexible
When we come out on the other side of the pandemic–and we will– there’s no doubt consumers will want to travel…far from their homes. And, there’s no better way to fill self-isolation days than researching and booking a trip to look forward to. But with no target date of when life will return to normal, how can consumers make future plans for an unknown date? Hotels and other travel-related brands are stepping up to the plate and “have made adjustments to their standard cancellation and booking policies to provide clientele with greater flexibility and, therefore, peace-of-mind” to give into their wanderlust and book that trip.

At Revolution Digital, we’ve been working hard to make sure our brands are adjusting—and in some cases, rebuilding—their advertising strategies to cope with the changing environment from the COVID-19 pandemic. From tailoring messaging and creative content to starting new Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, we’ve been leading the charge in preparing and guiding our clients to approach their advertising from a hyper-aware perspective. If you’re interested in learning more about Revolution Digital or working with us, feel free to reach out on our website or via email at

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