Someone cobbled together this video, which goes three minutes and 40 seconds, to illustrate something virtually everyone in America stuck in front of a TV set during the national economic shutdown/house arrest event thanks to the Wuhan virus: namely, how ridiculously derivative, cliched and intolerably awful every single TV commercial about the virus has become.
The commentary at the YouTube page under the video is spot on…
Corporate Covid-19 response videos are eerily similar. *Cue somber piano music*
When a company or brand releases a Coronavirus Response ad, they might tell you that we’re living in “uncertain times”, but that “we’re here for you”. They may say their top priority is “people” and “families” by bringing their services to the “comfort and safety of your home”. And don’t forget: “we’re all in this together!” #together
What’s the deal? In reality, many companies have found themselves short on cash, almost overnight. They needed to get a message out – and quick. They asked their teams to throw something together. Since they can’t film a new ad because of social distancing, they compiled old stock b-roll footage and found the most inoffensive royalty-free piano track they could find. This, combined with a decade of marketing trends dictated by focus groups and design-by-committee, released a tsunami of derivative, cliche ads all within a week of one another. It’s not a conspiracy – but perhaps a sign that it’s time for something new.
There is no question Madison Avenue is phoning in all the corporate TV ads amid this crisis, and there is also no question fear is driving corporate America – not of the virus, but of the possible public reaction to anything even slightly outside of the New Normal. Any corporate entity which is seen as not sufficiently caring about people who became ill from this virus faces the extinction of its stock price, or at least that’s how their management sees it, and so rather than take a chance on actually offering a message a little different than this somber, fake-empathetic crap they’ve thrown onto the tube they’ve all gone into their shells.
This is actually a lot more frightening than the virus, because it indicates a loss of creativity, boldness and risk-taking within American corporate culture.
And that loss of creativity calls into question whether the innovation, optimism and can-do spirit we are going to need to overcome the economic collapse the government-induced shutdown has brought on. The people broadcasting these infuriatingly maudlin ads are the ones we will have to depend on to bring the economy back, and it isn’t easy to summon up confidence they can do it.
Hopefully that’s a misread of those ads. What we can say is we’re doing a lot more streaming than cable TV now, and the ads are a big piece of why.