Usually, companies see advertisements as an investment to create awareness about them and to deliver the brand’s message to the people. But there are times when the brand’s image takes over and does the work. Especially when the public is looking at how companies conduct themselves during a pandemic, how these big corporations will act will be their biggest advertising and no amount of effort is more relevant as compared to the way the people will perceive their brand to be at the time of a crisis.
Take the case of Ligo Sardines, the Philippines ’ biggest canned Sardines brand. In light of the need of the private sector to step up in providing the needs of a population who are out of work and desperate for help as the result of the government’s stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this company pledged its whole advertising budget for the year, all hundreds of millions of them to efforts that will provide much-needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to medical and security personnel at the front lines of the battle against the deadly virus as well as aid to households who are in dire need of assistance. This move was announced in their social media accounts and immediately was heaped with praise by Netizens across the country.
With no sizable ad money to work with from this point on, Ligo is now forced to rely solely on free social media content to reach their customers. But because of the curiosity and the goodwill they have earned because of their unprecedented decision to divert all of their advertising funds for a worthy cause, there has been a surge in the number of new likes and followers on their social media pages. People are coming in spreading the good word for them. And to capitalize on this, the company’s marketing team has been focusing on this newfound audience by creating posts that embed the company’s message while at the same time touching on relevant social issues. This is a huge risk because people might not appreciate their taking sides but based on the public’s response, people are liking it and are lauding their boldness to go out of the norm and speak out.
This example should put companies big and small on notice. Their actions during this crisis will determine the way people will respond to them moving forward. While most of them are very much concerned about how they will divert their advertising efforts online to capitalize on the population stuck at home and glued to their screens, how they will stay relevant and socially responsible at this time will actually be their biggest marketing tool without even trying too hard and this new reality should make marketers and owners think long and hard about their priorities.