Marketing Missteps: What NOT to Do During a Pandemic

by Brittany McSorley

cape cod marketing firms

We here at KDC are coping as best we can with all the uncertainty these days. And while we love snarky marketing content, now is definitely not the time. So today, we’d like to focus on marketing in the midst of a global pandemic—in other words, how not to tastelessly take advantage of this upheaval to hock your wares.


Should people even need to be lectured on this? Certainly not. But unfortunately, not everyone is willing to take a step back from all the “buy my stuff” stuff for a few weeks.


To clarify, we’re all for using your marketing platforms in a normal (ish) way to raise awareness and/or funds during this stressful time. We applaud those efforts across the Cape and the country. If you can get on Facebook and spread the word about positivity and community support right now, the way the Lower Cape Outreach Council and many other organizations have been doing, it’s a no-brainer. A few of our restaurant clients have stayed open to offer takeout and delivery options, keeping their employees employed and their communities fed. Boston Restaurant Talk has put together a great list of resources for restaurant owners and workers whose lives have been upended in the past few weeks. We love all of this.


Most of the social media world seems to be joining in with similar good faith. In a matter of days, we’ve been introduced to the internet at its best. There are now tons of seriously cool ways to spend your unexpected downtime, including free art classes, cooking demonstrations from the best chefs out there, and Ivy League online courses that won’t cost you a dime. Musicians have planned countless free virtual concerts you can stream from the comfort of home. Museums all over the world that have closed their doors are offering virtual tours so you can add a dash of culture to your social distancing. Many public figures are taking time each day to read children’s books on social media as a peaceful respite for kids and parents alike. Not to mention the inspiring educators who are teaching remotely and sharing resources for parents who are suddenly home schooling their little ones.


It’s really a beautiful thing to see.


On the other hand, some businesses are using a near-unprecedented crisis as an opportunity for gimmicky, classless marketing ploys. We do not love all of this. Yes, it’s understandable that business owners are panicking about lost income. But some of the tone-deaf marketing content we’ve seen this week has just been depressing. So please, think before you type. For example: Suggesting that all the time we have to spend indoors for the foreseeable future is a great reason to buy whatever it is you make? No. Insisting that retail therapy will make people feel better when very real anxiety is at an all-time high? No. Making fun of the shortages across the country by including toilet paper or hand sanitizer in your posts? NO.


This is a scary time. If you’re anxious about the future, so are your customers. It’s difficult to take our minds off our businesses at a time like this, but now is not the moment for your elevator pitch. Take a deep breath. Hug your loved ones. Sit on the couch. We’re all in this together.