How Italian companies showed solidarity through advertising during the Covid crisis

Advertising during the Covid crisis 1

Advertising during the Covid crisis has become a branch of its own, as it requires skills and techniques that are unique within the vast universe of marketing practices. Since the pandemic hit Italy in March, with devastating consequences on the country’s economy, Italian companies have had to revise their entire strategy. Many of them did so successfully, demonstrating their closeness to society, humanising themselves, and contributing to the collective debate in a productive manner. In June, advertising seemed to revert to more or less “normal” messages and a more relaxed tone, but it looks like things might escalate again. As Europe seems to be entering the second wave of this pandemic – despite the warnings of the scientific community and the widely available advice on how to avoid it – we expect brand communication and advertising to tune into the public discourse again.

Encourage your audience to stay safe while using your product or service

Can your product/service be used or purchased from home? Then encourage your audience to do so! This is the first rule of advertising during the Covid crisis: improve your online channels and make your funnel as smooth as possible. Many Italian brands, including the national postal service and several banks and universities focused on this aspect during the first wave. They implemented new features to allow customers to perform actions and manage services from home, that would usually require a visit to their offices. As a result, most people developed a new attitude towards advertising during the Covid crisis, starting to see it less as a commercial endeavour and more as a form of public service announcement, and scouring it for information on how to access certain products and services without leaving their homes.

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Don’t be afraid to include links to official sources

We all know that the golden rule of advertising is about focusing on the relationship between the brand and the audience, leaving everything else out. These, however, are not normal times and a brand’s calls to action should not be pointing exclusively towards purchases. A number of Italian brands started incorporating the official website of the Health Ministry, with the updated guidelines on how to limit the spread of the virus. At this time, you might well risk losing a few clients down the funnel, in order to contribute to the circulation of correct and complete information over the ongoing crisis. If a few clients leave your website before making a purchase, it will mean you encouraged them to be responsible and educate themselves. In the long run, this will benefit your brand awareness, but most of all it means you provided a positive contribution to the safety of others.

Be transparent about the safety of your employees

If your company has kept working through the first wave, you’ll probably be able to keep going through the second one too. Whether your employees can work from home or they are “essential workers” and need to travel to their workplace, it is your job to guarantee their safety. And you should be clear about the safety measures you are implementing to do so. While it is your duty, of course, to inform your colleagues and employees of any precautions your company is taking, it is also a good idea to make the information available to your customers and the general public. Most Italian brands have published their internal guidelines and explained how they were planning to guarantee their workers’ financial stability and personal safety through the crisis. Go into detail and don’t be afraid to share the kind of content that normally doesn’t make it past in-office presentation. Share photos of the kind of PPE you have made available to your workforce and information on social distancing in the workplace, testing, hygiene measures, home office hours, and shifts. This kind of information might seem uninteresting during normal times, but it has become an essential part of responsible advertising during the Covid crisis.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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