Marketing in a time of Coronavirus

By |Published On: Friday, October 14, 2022|7 min read|

Brands may need to make some significant changes to their marketing models in order to flourish during these uncertain times.

If you are worried about how to communicate with your stakeholders and the wider world during this crisis, then you are not alone. It’s a hot topic right now for many Brand Marketers and Leadership Teams.

A recent Endelman survey of 12,000 people in the world’s leading economies found consumers are demanding that brands to act and communicate differently during the Covid-19 crisis, with nearly two-thirds (65%) saying how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products. So, it’s clear that the next few months will be an important time your brand. Yes, your actions are under extreme scrutiny right now but that doesn’t mean you should stop your marketing. Ask yourself the question, could inaction actually be worse than taking action?

Without sounding insensitive, you should not be building your communications around generic #weareinittogether campaigns. What people really care about are their peers, their day to day lives and not the thoughts and feeling of brands.

Our backgrounds lie in generating creative solutions, content creators and marketing communications for UK independent schools and commercial brands. Through 30 years plus experience we’ve learnt that the most important element of our craft is understanding the audience and putting yourself in their shoes. What brands should be doing is focusing their efforts on building brand equity and proving / talking about how they make a difference to the market and society.

So, should you continue your brand’s marketing during the Coronavirus crisis and if so, then how should you do it?

Here are some of the most important things you should consider: –


Clearly this is a difficult time for everyone.

Be sensitive to the struggles that individuals and families are going through. Many brands have made the decision to pull advertising campaigns due to the current crisis including Cadbury’s Easter Egg campaign that showed a grandfather hugging his grandchildren and KFC’s “Finger Licking Good” campaign that had people licking their fingers. It makes sense that you should not be advertising using insensitive or inappropriate messaging that might upset people or send out the wrong message.


In this time, the best thing you can do is provide help, assistance and value in any form you can. The Sports Directs and Wetherspoons of the world will be under fire for their response to the crisis where other brands will emerge more positively.

What can you do to help your stakeholders, peers and wider world?

For example, BrewDog turned to manufacturing hand sanitiser during the shortage, and a South West Independent school have been pulling together as a community to proudly supply NHS front-line heroes with a daily delivery of delicious ‘Grab and Go Food Boxes’. This was made possible thanks to generous financial donations from parents, and donations from a number of loyal suppliers and, of course, their very own catering team. #NHSHeroesbrands.png


Consumers are sceptical. We’ve become mistrustful of brand “agendas” as we’ve been let down so many times in the past by marketers looking to capitalise on current events. Look no further than the Pepsi campaign with Kendall Jenner that trivialised the Black Lives matter movement and had to be pulled due to consumer backlash. We’ve become experts at spotting altruistic vs disingenuous behaviour.

If you are planning to offer help and assistance during this time, the best thing you can do is to keep it simple, practical and deliverable. Whatever you do, don’t try to exploit the situation by “jumping on the band-waggon” to your own benefit.

There’s some discussion going on right now in marketing circles about how many brands including McDonalds, Coke and Audi have created “social distancing logos”. Many argue that this belittles the severity of the situation.



Turn on the news and it’s mostly doom and gloom, and anxiety levels are high.

Try to be as positive as possible (with the caveat of observing rule #1 of being sensitive). Give people hope. Give people inspiration. Show us all that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that in this period of desperation there is so much to be thankful for like community, family, relationships, endurance and human spirit.

A preparatory school client of Quantock, recently commissioned us to craft an upbeat social media video slideshow which was inspired by the Rudyard Kipling poem “IF’ and read by the acting Head. The purpose was to reach out to their community, engage and provide an uplift moment during lockdown.


This lockdown provides us all with a strategic time-out and an opportunity to think about your long-term strategy. A simple and useful analogyis that ‘strategy’ is what happens from the chin up and ‘tactics’ are what happen from the chin down.

We suggest that you focus more on building a robust and long-term future, think ahead, imagine 12 months down the line in May 2021. How will the school be viewed, and what do you want your customers and stakeholders to feel about your brand?


Within the Independent Schools sector, development directors, marketers and admissions teams are arguably working closer than ever before.

Instead of forging on with a raising money for an Alumni / Development 175-year anniversary campaign one of our clients have changed tack and are now focusing on expanding and building relationships with their community. The aim is to create a sense of shared experiences brought to life through a collection of meaningful stories, images and videos which can then be used across a plethora of future marketing communications.


It’s really important that life goes on in spite of the crisis, and people expect to hear from your brand or school, and an absence of comms could damage your image. With so many people at home right now and spending so much time online, you have their full attention like never before.

Follow the steps above and think harder about what you are putting out there, but don’t stop marketing. Remember people don’t know what the future holds, and you can help them.

It almost feels in poor taste to talk about concepts such as market share at a time like this. However, every brand needs to realise that staying relevant throughout this crisis will strengthen their market position, while those that simply batten down the hatches will fall behind.Decreasing budgets may hurt you yet maintaining or increasing your budgets will grow you share.

One final thought that I will leave you with…….


There is thinking around us working in a completely new way of life after COVID-19, and that people will assume that the world will have completely changed, customers will have changed, brand will have changed forever, the media will have changed forever. This is not the case; the world will quickly snap back to normality without any major changes. Yes, times will be tricky but fundamentally intrinsic habits and previous ways of working will remain.

It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own. 
Bill Bernach – Legendary American Advertising Creative Director

The point is the people have been building their behaviours for a millennia rather than three months.

  • Either, batten down the hatches, shut up shop, and pray for the storm to pass as quickly as it came, so that things can get back to normal.
  • Or, be nimble and find a way to become relevant during this period, and in so laying the foundations for a new phase of growth and prosperity when this is over.

There are arguments for both of the above, but we know which one we’d choose.

If you’d like to discuss your brand and marketing communications strategy during the Covid-19 crisis, schedule a free and informal call one of with us.

Uphold your marketing activity!

Mark Dalton, Managing Director of Quantock a creative communications agency and George Hughes a former television Director and the Founder of video marketing agency Small Films. Between us we help schools and brands to understand what makes each of them unique, and we help them capture and communicate this to a wider audience.

[email protected] [email protected]

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