Marketers tailor ads to SARS concerns

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[Hong Kong] Fearful of crowds, strangers and unfamiliar situations, consumers worried about SARS contagion are "looking for the security of well-protected environments and interactions with providers who seem to have taken all precautions to take care of them personally," said Dave McCaughan, senior VP-consumer learnings for Asia at Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Hong Kong. Yum Brands' Pizza Hut, for example, has boosted TV spending in Hong Kong with two spots pitching home delivery by Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide. Retailer Lane Crawford emphasizes personal-shopping services to allay fear of crowded shops. Health foods and supplements such as Brand's Essence of Chicken are running detailed advertorials on how to maintain good health, as are a slew of new public service ads. Categories that are spending more on TV ads include cleaning products, toiletries and apparel, such as casual clothes, that are easy to clean. "Some local marketers ... are simply taking advantage of cost efficiencies, because schools are closed and people are staying at home more, and therefore watching more TV," said Mabel Leung, general manager of Publicis Groupe's Starcom, Hong Kong. Mr. McCaughan predicted more overt SARS-related ads. "I'm waiting for marketers to start using face masks for marketing; someone's going to do it soon," he said. "Perhaps companies will also come out with face masks infused with moisturizer like tissues."
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