Twitter has a word of caution for brands in the time of coronavirus: “This is not a ‘marketing opportunity.’”
On Wednesday, Twitter posted a blog outlining the potential dangers for brands trying to communicate online while the world faces a COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter did not tell brands to avoid discussing coronavirus, that would be near impossible, but they just have to be thoughtful about the message.
“Let’s be clear,” said Alex Josephson, global head of Twitter Next, and Eimear Lambe, director of Twitter Next, in the blog post. “This is not a ‘marketing opportunity’ to capitalize on, and we do not recommend brands opportunistically linking themselves to a health scare.”
Brands are looking for any guidance they can get on how to respond to the outbreak. Twitter said that someone tweets about coronavirus every 45 milliseconds. “What we are facing is unprecedented,” Josephson and Lambe said. “This is global, this is open-ended, and this could affect every brand, every business, and every individual. In times of crisis, people look to leaders and institutions for guidance, reassurance and information. Increasingly, they also look to brands.”
Many advertisers have adjusted their messaging during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hershey just had to pull ads that showed people hugging and touching, because it was seen as potentially insensitive to promote close contact while most people are practicing “social distancing.” Coors Light pulled the plug on a campaign for March Madness with the slogan: “Official beer of ‘working’ remotely.” That, too, could have come off as tone deaf while more people are working at home, not to watch college basketball, but to avoid the contracting the disease.