Summer is in Full Swing, and so is Post-Pandemic Marketing
Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, but it feels like the party started early when the CDC abruptly announced that fully vaccinated people could shed their masks in most public spaces. Like most pandemic-related developments, praise and criticism poured in immediately. Today though, with two weeks of perspective, one promising trend has emerged: Vaccinations are up. One could argue this has been the most effective vaccine marketing effort to date – even better than free fries and pizza. It feels great to turn this corner toward normalcy, but we aren’t there yet. Marketers and consumers alike must now navigate this strange, exciting ‘Post-Pandemic’ period.
What is post-pandemic marketing? It’s anything from a brand that acknowledges an end to our long nationwide lockdown. Coke’s new “Open for Summer” labels certainly qualify. So does Lyft’s “How to Human Again” ad campaign. Same with Bud Light’s “Summer Stimmy.” These ideas are great because they successfully celebrate the end of the pandemic, but not the end of COVID. The characters in the Lyft ads are still wearing masks, which real customers will likely have to continue doing throughout the summer. Coke and Bud Light promote the role their product plays at events that will be returning, like ball games and barbecues, without explicitly telling people to gather at them. If you do want to tell customers to return to your store, it’s best to find a clever angle. Take Burger King, which created ads featuring personal items left in their stores before the pandemic and is now inviting people to reclaim them.
It’s hard to say how long this stage will last, but consumers should prepare to see plenty of it in the coming weeks, and marketers should be planning their post-pandemic messaging now, if you haven’t already. I know it’s tiresome to address a problem that’s persisted for over a year now, but we made it through “unprecedented times” manifestos and “Wow, I forgot I wasn’t wearing pants on Zoom!” jokes. We can make it through this. We’re almost there. If you don’t believe me, just scroll your phone for five minutes. The brands will remind you.