Oh no they didn’t?

published 31 March 2020

It’s probably not the best time to advertise finger licking.

Building on our recent piece on timing and tone while communicating in a crisis – this week, James, our Director of Creative Strategy and Language, shares a couple of crisis communication fails, and expectations for the future.

It’s not surprising that in the current circumstances we’ve seen a number brands like Hershey’s and Coors Light pull recent ads. Hershey’s were only recently running a campaign centered on hugs and handshakes as strangers reacted to receiving free Hershey’s. While Coors, just prior to the outbreak, were about to release an ad titled the “Official Beer of ‘Working’ Remotely. The spot was a play on the notorious loss of work productivity during the March Madness basketball tournament in the States.

While we could all do with a cold one right now, the brand feared coming across as making light of people in lock down. On the other hand, KFC has pulled their ‘finger-licking good’ advertising, but not before they received the heavy hand on social. The ad (which did air during the outbreak) encouraged customers (most in public) to lick their fingers, at a time when people are being urged to pay increased attention to personal hygiene. You can’t make that s**t up.

With all of these companies shifting to a product-focused approach, we can expect to see marketers opt to play it safe and away from bigger brand-building communications until the worst of the outbreak has passed. I suspect however that come this point, short-term thinking will bully brands into making decisions focused on rebuilding the bottom line, rather than shouting from the rooftops. Regardless of the future, in reference to all of these examples here, the team at Twitter Next suggested that brands should only ever allude to COVID-19 if they have valuable information to impart. You know, like these updates 😉

If you’d like to chat about what to say right now, and most importantly, how to say it, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch.