Last week, many major auto makers, including General Motors, Toyota and others, cited concerns about the virus -- though not naming it specifically.
In keeping with the “social-distancing” dictum, some automakers said they would deliver new cars to a consumer's home -- instead of the usual walk-in showroom starting point.
Buick/GM said: “A lot has changed overnight. But Buick and GM's commitment to you remains the same. We understand you want to feel safe.” Toyota’s message was a bit more general: “We are here for you now. And all the better days ahead.”
More explicitly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran PSAs -- one on HBO just before a re-air of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” CDC noted: “The world is talking about coronavirus. But it’s hard to know who to listen to. We have answers to your questions like...”
Big restaurants chains, in dire need of financial help, are pushing takeout services, with a softer pitch. For example, one creative shows a man who buys takeout from Red Lobster and finds he can’t wait to get home to dine. He can be found eating in his car, while waiting at a red light.
It's harder for other categories, such as the airlines. What could they do in this moment -- especially when there is concern that air travel has been integral to the virus’ quick expansion? Additionally, airlines have been drastically cutting back flights everywhere.
That said, a number of airlines -- and other businesses as well -- have been boosting email marketing with messages of sanitizing efforts and existing high performance cabin air cleaning. Also, many have focused on workplace cleaning and safety.
With consumers staying home -- whether under orders from their state governments or otherwise -- all this becomes much harder.
What can brands really say to help maintain a relationship? The bottom line continues to be: We feel your pain, your anxiety. Please find a way to buy some stuff from us, so we don’t go under.