As the pandemic spreads across the world and social distancing or should we say physical distancing has become the new norm it is not surprising we now react to images and videos in a different way.
Do you feel slightly uncomfortable when you look at the above image; maybe you have seen a video recently of lots of people physically interacting; high fives, handshakes, hugs, behaviour we would be totally at ease with before the pandemic. Now we are seeing things in a different way, I watched a video recently of a couple running down a aisle of people high fiving all along the way and despite that fact it was an old film an involuntary thought popped into my head ‘wow what a great way to spread a virus’. We have become so accustomed to seeing images and videos about the spread of the virus, that one person can infect 30 people in just a couple of days. Images about hand washing and making sure you do not touch your face.
The positives of social distancing has been proved across many countries, it is the most effective way to flatten the curve. However, what does this mean for how we now interpret visual content? Many advertisers have already pulled campaigns that they no longer feel are appropriate. Cadburys have pulled their Easter egg hunt commercial, recognising that interactions between grandparents and grandchildren are a danger rather than nostalgia. Cadburys stated; ‘We take our responsibility for marketing & advertising very seriously. Our TV ad was intended to invoke generosity & happiness in the run up to Easter. However, due to current govt guidance on social distancing, we recognise it's no longer appropriate to encourage close physical contact amongst families. For that reason, we've made the decision to replace our current Easter advert with spots that are mindful of the current climate. We're working to do this as soon as possible.’
Advertisers in the US are 30% less likely to use images showing physical contact in their digital ads. In March, the use of ad imagery displaying crowds dropped a massive 54%. Depictions of cities also dropped 19% according to research by marketing technology company Pattern89. Interestingly images featuring electronics has risen, now 39% of social ads include at least one device. This could be due to the fact we are so much more reliant on these devices to stay connected.
In time, this will pass, as we have seen from China eventually it is back to business, schools re-open and life gets back to normal. Whilst I don’t think it will be the same and we will have to work out a new normal, I hope we can start to advertise human interactions again. But for now it’s ok if this makes you a feel a little uncomfortable.
Just in case this has all stressed you out here's a tranquil beach... and breathe!