Partners + Insights Series with Kantar: Advertising through a pandemic

Jun 1st, 2020

Written by Ampersand Marketing

In our final Partners + Insights Series with Kantar’s US Chief Digital OfficerStephen DiMarco, summed up the session in just a few words, “We’re all trying to figure out the ‘right way’ to communicate during a pandemic.” In short, there is no “right way” but there are do’s and don’ts that have proved successful for brands in the past, that would serve well for brands advertising on TV today. 


Moving TV forward’ is seizing “the opportunity for TV to really be more relevant to us as consumers.” To him, TV content is a critical form of entertainment during a time when people are spending most, if not all, of their time at home – creating a shared experience amongst others in the household. 

During a time, which is stressful for many, consumers are looking for emotional connections through content. However, just because emotions may be high, that emotional connection doesn’t always need to be “sad” or empathy-driven to resonate with audiences 

A study recently conducted by Kantar to understand consumer reactions to Super Bowl LIV ads pre and post pandemic, found ads that used humor and a lighthearted approach while staying relevant to their brand voice, outperformed ads that intended to be “tear-jerkers” or create a sense of unity. When Super Bowl ads were retested, the study conveyed that 75% of them performed better now than pre COVID-19.


People are ready 

  • to make emotional connections 
  • to regain control during uncertainty 
  • for brands to be true to themselves again 

Some marketers are feeling a form of “paralysis” – they don’t know which strategies to follow, so they’re adopting other brands’ approaches, even if it may not be right for their brand. However, to emerge successful, brands should: 

  • Act now and be bold. Brands that are decisive and act boldly will stand out in the marketplace 
  • Find fruitful new creative territories. People are in different emotional states, which drives their behavior 
  • Capitalize on production constraints 
  • Attribute based on emotional connection 

How consumers interact with brands and access goods are changing, so ad strategies must follow suit. 

Tune into the full session here to understand why advertising through a pandemic is different from a recession.