Brief #101: Marketing During Times of War

This content originally appeared on February 24, 2022 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

You may have noticed we didn’t send our newsletter at the normal time – and with good reason. With all the news of Russia invading Ukraine, what we planned to send just didn’t feel… right

It also didn’t feel right to ignore the situation – because if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last two years it’s this: people want to see brands speaking up on important issues.  

You’ve probably been here before; you have content ready to publish, but global events – like the pandemic or Black Lives Matter movement – happen and suddenly our social media feeds are dominated by these trending topics.

So, what now? 

During moments like this, it’s never clear or easy to know exactly what to do – but it’s important to pause and assess the situation, ensure the content you planned to publish doesn’t feel tone-deaf, and thoughtfully approach your next move. 

We’ve also learned that history repeats itself – and perhaps we can look to history for clues on what works, what doesn’t, and how we can approach the current situation. 

When World War II began, advertising shifted from “an emphasis on brand selection and advertising practices to wartime conservation measures,” according to a study shared by Duke University. “During this time, rationing began and automobile manufacturing was suspended.”

Despite the shifts in manufacturing and purchasing options from 1941 to 1945, advertising expenditures in the USA grew from $2.2 billion to $2.9 billion – a 26% increase. Remember how brands shifted their messaging to focus on safety-first during COVID-19? 

Here’s a Kotex ad from 1942 that shares a wartime storyline to persuade readers that Kotex will spur them onto patriotic action: 

A Kotex ad from 1942

And here’s Burger King’s “Couch Potatriot” ad from 2020 – where they encourage viewers to order from the comfort of their home:

A screenshot from Burger King's commercial showing a person clicking "order delivery" on Burger King's app

There are, unfortunately, many wars happening today in the world, but social media has given more power to the masses. How will trending topics like #StockMarketCrash and #WorldWarIII impact our global economy – considering most economic downturns have been driven by human behavior and, more specifically, fear

Understanding economic shifts and the effects on people’s behaviors and patterns will allow you to track and compare new insights against your predefined audience personas – approaching your next marketing moves more thoughtfully and tactfully.

We will continue to monitor the situation and share our thoughts, insights, and ideas. In the meantime, stay safe, stay warm, and keep your loved ones close.

PS. If you need a distraction, we’re chatting with Hootsuite’s Creative Director, Dianne Semark, and TINT’s Sr. Marketing Manager, David Ramirez, on Thursday, March 3rd, to discuss the power of authentic visual content.

An image promoting "The Power of Visual Content" event with TINT and Hootsuite

Register here and join us to learn: 

  • What consumers expect from brands
  • The various content formats to experiment with 
  • How Hootsuite is getting creative in 2022

If there’s something you want to ask TINT and Hootsuite, hit reply and send us your questions. 

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