When you think of Thanksgiving, you think of a homecooked meal comprised of turkey, cranberry, stuffing, and Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes. You think of the smell of pumpkin pie creeping out of the oven and into the living room where you sit with the relatives you haven’t seen since last year. You think of your grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, the people you aren’t sure are your cousins or not, and even more cousins. You think of the lights, the parties, the laughter, and the “I missed you too’s.” The holidays are a time of love, giving, and celebration; according to Hallmark at least.
But when you think of the holidays, you also think about the million questions your aunt is about to fire off at you like you’re in the middle of combat. The classic “What’s your plan for after college?” missile aimed directly at you. You think of the 8-year-old nephew (a.k.a the demon child) that gets a separate meal because they “only eat Mac n Cheese.” We all know the one. You think about the angry 15-year old pouting about how they STILL have to sit at the kids table, and how “it’s a banishment from maturity.” You think about how your uncle is going to make a politically incorrect comment towards the end of dinner, and how your climate change activist cousin will leave the table out of spite. Like clockwork. You think about the post-dinner games, where everyone sits comatose on the couch as the last glasses of wine are poured (sparkling cider for the kids, of course).
This year, however, we are going to be thinking about the holidays much differently. Do I wear my mask around my grandparents? Do I start quarantining now to be safe? Will my mom burn the turkey… again?? While we are all thinking about how to best socially distance ourselves at the Thanksgiving table, most marketers are thinking about how to best communicate with consumers during this strange time. There is no capital T Truth on how to best advertise during a global pandemic, but in my opinion, there are certainly universal “don’ts.”
First of all, I don’t want to hear about the pandemic anymore. In fact, don’t talk about politics or the election or any of the major issues that we are so desperately trying to stop thinking about (during the holidays at least). Most people are hoping to squeeze any bit of normalcy that they can out of Thanksgiving this year, so don’t be the haunting commercial in the background of the festivities reminding us of the turmoil in our world. I can already hear the words “danger,” “virus,” “lockdowns,” spilling out of the TV or the radio as I write this now. Even the “we’re all in this together” messaging has run its course. After some research, it seems that I am not alone in this opinion. We, especially Gen Z and millennials, want distraction advertising; if you will.
If you do decide to talk about the many, many things happening in our world today, then make sure you are talking about changes your company/brand has implemented to support your employees and consumers during this time. Talk about diversity and inclusion tactics your company is making, and show overall transparency on political and social matters. If you are going to talk about it, make it count.
With all of that said, don’t not talk to us! We want to hear from you. We want to hear from our favorite coffee brand, our local bank, the store we are buying our Christmas gifts at, and our favorite restaurants. We just don’t want to hear “we are all in this together.” Rather, we want to feel it. Make us feel like you also want that normalcy. That you want things to feel like they used to. That you want our holidays to be filled with nothing but love, joy, and togetherness. I promise, we’ll like that better.