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  • Bruce Crandall

COVID-19 Communication Has Become Platitudinal and Tone-Deaf



I recently moderated qualitative research around a series of COVID-19-related advertisements. One goal of the research was to examine which ads connected better with respondents during the current pandemic. The ads included some of the biggest, most recognizable brands on earth.

Do you know what we found? Among other insights, we learned that many of the messages broadcast rang hackneyed, platitudinal, formulaic, tone-deaf, as if a $100 billion brand would gladly sit right next to you on your couch, feel your current pain, and personally be at your beck and call to help you navigate through the pandemic.

Here’s a three-minute sample of some of the creative piggybacking that’s occurred…




See what I mean?

But my point here isn’t to pan the lack of ingenuity or creative talent right now, of which there’s very much a wealth of genius. Rather, my point is to show that much of the tone-deafness lies in messages that are so broad, so formulaic, so me-too—especially amid a pandemic—that they’ve lost impact, drowned out by feigned caring and by a lack of bona fide action, brand specifics, product features, or service benefits.

Do you know what else we discovered? Listen to your customers' real needs. They’ll tell you.




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