Optimistic ad campaigns run up against rising Covid-19 cases

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Advertising campaigns celebrating life after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic contrast with the rebound in infections, the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, and renewed restrictions designed to combat the virus.

Uber Technologies Inc.

ran an ad during coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, for example, that shows a quinceañera finally taking place after a year of delay. “Go anywhere,” the ad says. “Go and get it.”

A Google ad also running during coverage of the Olympics shows people looking for information on how to start at a new school, start dating again, and start over. “Start over,” he said.

Google said the ad was based on actual research. On Monday, however, many users were also looking for information on the positive Covid-19 test result for Senator Lindsey Graham (R., SC), according to Google’s trend research tables.

The new increase in the number of cases means marketers should reassess and possibly suspend even the most optimistic campaigns, said Susan Credle, chief executive of world creation at advertising agency FCB, which is part of the Interpublic. Group of Cos. “I don’t think anyone made a mistake,” she said. “I just think the world hasn’t gone in the direction we thought it was and that forces us all to be prepared to adapt.”

Uber and Google have said they plan to continue their current announcements.

“With the new wave of Covid cases, we think it’s more important than ever to continue to show up and reflect optimism about what a post-pandemic world can look like,” said Thomas Ranese, vice president of global marketing at Uber, in a statement. .

Uber plans to expand the “Go Get It” social media campaign after the Olympics, with a focus on safety, a spokesperson added. The company will continue to adapt its messages to the present time, she said.

Google is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations to make sure the company’s ads don’t send mixed signals or distort the situation, said Marvin Chow, vice president of the company’s global marketing, a unit of Alphabet. Inc.

The current ad reflects people’s searches as the pandemic continues and changes, Mr Chow said.

“People are starting new jobs, asking questions about how to get back to work, doing research on road trips,” he said. “There is a safe and responsible way to do these things and part of our role as an information society is to provide you with this information. ”

Google and Uber last week delayed plans to bring employees back to their offices, saying they would demand that American workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning.

The Tokyo Olympics themselves are being held without spectators due to an increase in infections.

“I love that they were optimistic that we would be in a good position by the time we got to the Olympics, but as we got to Tokyo and there weren’t any fans in the stands, we could feel like it was wrong to continue as we thought, ”Ms. Credle said.

Marketers have been trying to send the right messages since the start of the pandemic, first by pulling campaigns made obsolete by the coronavirus, and then creating dark, empathetic ads acknowledging ‘uncertain times’.

Publicity about reopening and returning to normal began to appear last year as the initial blockages faded.

This year’s traders were encouraged by the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines and, until recently, the drop in the number of infections. Some companies, including Google and Uber, have run ads encouraging people to get vaccinated.

“The good times are coming,” said Budweiser, another brand that has supported vaccination efforts, in an April announcement. “Now we have a chance. “

Write to Nat Ives at [email protected]

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