People have been constantly adjusting to the changes since it has been more than a year since the Philippines has been in mandatory quarantines. These changes include new working and studying arrangements, purchasing habits, hobbies and interests, among others. Because of this, even the way people take care of themselves at home has shifted.
The pandemic has changed beauty standards in many ways, with some people incorporating so-called ‘life hacks’ to make self-care and maintenance easier for people. Other brands have had their products change their main ingredients to promote sustainability amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Popular Philippine dermatological company Belo Medical Group released an advertisement on August 11, aiming to promote self-care with their brand. The ad was presented with a woman watching the news on the couch, getting stressed out. The ad, dubbed as the Pandemic Effect, has since been taken down after attracting flak online. Netizens criticised the ad for being tone-deaf and insensitive despite being in a pandemic, and the hashtags #PandemicEffect and #BoycottBelo trended.
Body Shaming is Out. Body Positivity is In.
In the advertisement, the woman is seen to develop acne, gain weight, and grow ridiculously long body hair overtime in the ad. As the short film by GIGIL Advertising Group nears the end, it flashed a call-to-action, saying: "Tough times call for beautiful measures." This prompted responses from Filipino women encouraging each other to be comfortable in their skin despite all the negativity and challenges brought by the pandemic.
“The advertisement of The Belo Medical Group #PandemicEffect campaign just proved that social media users have a big impact on how a brand or entity should effectively communicate with its consumers. It is vital to track the sentiment of conversations, allowing the brand to take action before a bad experience goes viral,” Tina Laceda, Insights Analyst, Philippines, said.
Although negative response to this campaign was prominent, this study found out that some netizens did not find the ad offensive and insensitive. This group believed that Belo and GIGIL, somehow, managed to show the reality of life. They also noted that it helped raise awareness on certain issues concerning one’s health.
Looking into the response towards this ad, the reaction from the digital public was varied. However, despite the diversity in reactions, there will always be outliers that will pop out which can be highlighted to advance one’s communication objectives. This is why brands need to find the needle in the haystack by wading through their social buzz where valuable insights can be mined.
Note that having a lot of engagement on social media might seem like a success. However, a high volume of mentions is only a positive sign when it’s accompanied by positive sentiment. Given this, understanding your audience’s sentiment is important. How they feel about your brand provides you with the context necessary to evaluate your marketing and communications strategy.
“Sorry” as the Marketing Strategy
Companies hit by a crisis of misconduct typically issue a public apology to minimize reputational damage, negative word-of-mouth, and declining sales. Brands should be quick to apologize, whether it is for a social media gaffe or a much larger issue. However, the manner in how they do it is equally crucial.
Following the backlash, GIGIL released a short and simple apology, owning up to its mistake. Interestingly, this worked for GIGIL as netizens noted they see true remorse and a genuine willingness to improve moving forward.
At times, releasing a public apology may not be enough. Brands should go beyond their effort and understand how their message is perceived by the digital public. Apology efficacy varies according to the audience, brand, and message factors, hence exploring how consumers process a corporate apology on social media is vital in crisis communication.
“Marketing for any brand today has become all about staying relevant and updated. Keeping abreast of the latest trends in the digital sphere is important as it will help in designing purpose-driven campaigns that resonate with the target audience. To add, this will help brands stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on emerging trends even before they go mainstream.” Gladys Ruiz, Insights Analyst, Philippines commented.