Advertising in the age of coronavirus

New ads try to strike a balance, resonating with anxious consumers without alienating them.

Remember picnics, and parties, and parades? Remember shopping in stores? For things that weren’t essentials?

The advertising world does. And they’re here for you. Now, more than ever.

A recent Target ad encouraged customers to be “together at home,” while Toyota said its family is “stronger together” and other brands have followed suit — all with sweeping piano music and still photography of friends and gatherings to remind you of better times.

As the US economy has come to a screeching halt amid the coronavirus pandemic, the advertising industry has undergone a massive self-reinvention campaign. Ad dollars are in jeopardy as businesses contemplate their own future. Advertisers are maneuvering through this new landscape cautiously, which means scrapping campaigns, and conceiving and shooting entirely new messages on the fly — all while respecting social distancing guidelines.

“The compasses that people used to plan advertising are spinning. The game has completely changed,” said Sascha Lock, vice president of media at the AMP agency in Boston. “Fundamentally, people need things that are very different.”

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