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Reply leverages Data and Analytics to gain insight into the impact of the novel coronavirus on society, consumers and industries. Using the Quentin Search Data tool developed by TD Reply, which aggregates data from Google Trends and Google Ads, this report focuses on how COVID-19 impacted creative campaigns in EU countries.
This report is in no way intended to distract from the fact that the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus is primarily a human tragedy affecting hundreds of thousands of people.
As the situation evolves rapidly, please note that this page reflects the data collected up until 17 June 2020.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reflects the motivations of human behaviour and decision making. Usually, safety and the physiological needs are satisfied for most people. COVID-19 changed this so that priorities shifted.
When the pandemic hit, consumers were moving their focus from the top of the pyramid (self-actualisation & esteem) to the bottom (belonging & safety needs).
Brands have been uncertain about how to advertise in a sensitive way in order to not alienate consumers struggling to come to grips with the pandemic, while maintaining a healthy business. Without being able to continue with “business as usual”, many brands looked to create unique COVID-19-specific campaigns.
This report analysed 52 campaigns across industries for five European markets. It looks at which campaigns resonated well creatively based on TD Reply‘s Data Creativity Score (DCS). The DCS is a data-driven approach to measure, compare and score the creative impact of a campaign by quantifying the criteria of the most important industry awards such as Effie, Cannes Lions, The ADDYs and the D&AD. The score evaluates marketing efforts in two sectors:
This parameter measures consumers’ opinions on the campaign concerning emotionality, originality and understanding. The bigger the positive reactions on the web, the higher the score.
This parameter measures the rise of the conversion rate from media advertising to consumers’ Google search volume for the Brand, Product or Campaign. The bigger the difference to the average, the higher the score.
COVID-19 campaigns were not seen as original, despite driving high emotion in consumers. This lack of originality lowered concept scores and therefore the total creativity score.
Source: TD Reply´s DCS. 01.03.20 – 15.06.2020
Campaigns in March and April targeted the new needs of “safety & belonging”, focusing on staying safe at home, connecting with loved ones and creating a sense of togetherness. In May campaigns moved to address the needs of “esteem & self-actualisation”, showcasing creativity expressed during lockdown and looking to the future when people can leave their homes.
Safety & Belonging
Esteem & Self-Actualisation
The average DCS constantly stayed at a mediocre level.
“Safety & belonging” messaging initially resonated with consumers. However, it lost its impact as more brands followed suit, losing activation over time, with the concept flat-lining as the campaigns were not seen as original. Campaigns which switched to messages targeting “esteem & self-actualisation” drove higher engagement in April and May.
Only one campaign targeted esteem in March, removed to aid comparison.
More than in other markets brands in the UK targeted the needs “esteem & self-actualisation”. In the end, this made them more successful.
Countries with a stricter shutdown reacted less to the campaigns, but exhibited higher activation.
Early COVID-19 campaigns spoke to the nation and picked a message of togetherness to reflect the serious situation citizens were facing. This was particularly true in Italy where the COVID-19 crisis began in Europe. The longer the pandemic went on, the more tired consumers grew with the same messaging.
MARCH - Campaigns typically appealed to COVID-19 related messaging – using emotion in a way that reflected their brand purpose and consumers’ needs.
ARPRIL - COVID-19 campaigns overall struggled to resonate with consumers as they lacked originality.
MAY - As the situation in Europe began to ease, brands began to use sensible humour to relieve stress. Consumers' needs move into the “esteem & self-actualisation” zone.
As the world transitions to a new normal after COVID-19, advertisers will learn to shift their focus onto consumers’ needs even more.
Brands are recommended to use creativity to help solve consumer problems and needs - linking the messages to the brand’s purpose.
As more brands target the higher need states, consumers will begin to show fatigue in this kind of messaging.
Brands should identify new messages and target a variety of needs in the future to ensure messaging stays original and drives high engagement.
Brands will try to be faster to create sales, no matter the circumstances, particularly if we see further COVID-19 waves in Europe.
Brands cannot always focus on creating emotional concepts. The messages should be balanced with originality and activation to stimulate purchases.