I’ve largely avoided discussing our current strange times but, recently watched a TV programme during which were advertisements from the following :
- a company selling beds
- a major bank
- a well-known manufacturer of tea
- two major television companies, one of which is funded directly by UK public’s payment of an annual licence fee
Just to be clear, these all specifically mentioned the current difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, so they were newly produced and not to provide information needed by the public, but solely to market their wares.
Whilst not a fan of one major UK supermarket chain – they got a free pass from me for their new advertisement because its focus was on providing guidance to customers about the arrangements they’ve set in place to enable their customers to shop as safely as possible during the current social distancing requirements. Even though they closed on their standard marketing strap-line, the largely informational nature of the advertisement meant it didn’t cause me rage. Whereas the bed sellers, having rushed to produce a new voice-over for their advertisements focusing on “the importance of sleep during stressful times like these” and the tea manufacturer whose advertisement focused on “the importance of talking and keeping in touch” while drinking a cup of their tea, made me question the morality of using the current circumstances to market your products and/or services.
I’m in no way bothered about the many small businesses adjusting their offerings to be available online, nor those who have morphed into a related business (restaurants now offering home delivery for example), for I’m entirely comfortable with the man in the street working hard to earn a living. For full disclosure, I’m doubtless influenced by the knowledge that the small business belonging to a family member will not survive this lock-down.
I get that our economy is being trashed, I understand we are heading into a recession like none before, but something about large organisations spending a lot of money (I’ve worked in advertising and know the vast sums of money involved) to make their advertising specific to the current pandemic just boils my blood. When so many are offering their services for free (or at a greatly reduced charge), when even Audible is providing free access to stories for children, something about harnessing the virus to sell things like beds and tea seems … lacking in humanity.
Despite some viewers commenting how bizarre it is to watch advertisements which are completely irrelevant to life as we now experience it (for summer holidays abroad and the like), my reaction is one of sympathy for those organisations over their (pre-booked) advertising spend, as it is inevitably falling on stony ground. But there’s something about their perceived acceptance of the difficult situation they find themselves in which gives me more of an “all in this together” feeling. Whereas those who’ve rushed out to make their new advertisements … not so much. Something about that behaviour feels at the very least tacky, at the worst morally lacking.
I feel the same way about those banks who’ve lowered the interest rate on savings while raising the interest rate on loans and mortgages – this latter despite the Bank of England having lowered theirs with the specific aim of helping to alleviate nationwide hardship and with the expectation that banks would pass it on to their own customers. When those banks are the same who were bailed out by the government with tax-payers money, after they got into themselves into financial trouble … I find myself without words which could be repeated here. And as for investors and traders making fortunes out of the pandemic, there must be a special place in hell for them.
As a part-time Life Coach & NLP Practitioner, I’ve spent time reflecting whether I have anything to offer the public at large during this difficult time. As my aim is to serve and not sell, I decided that with so many high quality offerings already available at free/low cost, adding my voice would simply be making noise. Instead I’ve focused my time and energy on providing regular and consistent support to a number of individuals living alone, who I know are either already struggling, or will be likely to struggle during this time. I also acknowledge how fortunate I am in having an alternative income stream, and feel it’s not appropriate for me to take away from the limited pool of funds available to coaches during this time.
I know fear is at the root of the many less attractive aspects of human behaviour being displayed currently, and can but hope we’ll see a change in the current me, me, me focus of society post Covid-19.
What do you hope for post Covid-19?
© Debra Carey, 2020