Brands like Suitsupply are poised for the end of the pandemic, but the ads may come too early
In early March, a viral campaign by the men’s fashion company Suitsupply gave a brief, harrowing glimpse into our post-pandemic future – and the advertisements that could usher in it. The models depicted were entangled in a web of tanned limbs, touching each other aggressively and sloppily kissing the tongues. All were scantily clad except for the campaign captain, who wore a tailored suit. The “new normal”, teased the Suitsupply advertisement, would be sexy, sweaty and sensual.
The slippery images sparked a flurry of reactions on the internet, but the campaign’s success in generating discourse led to suggestions that horniness and hedonism might be adopted as brand marketing tactics with a view to the new new normal. Some experts believe that few companies will be so brazen and instead incorporate slow and steady changes in tone on ads and social media campaigns. However, don’t be fooled. Summer 2021 could possibly be the hottest of our lives: We missed the anonymous comfort of dark, crowded rooms and the adrenaline-pumping clutter of a night among strangers.
According to Sean Cassidy, president of public relations firm DKC, a CEO of a major media company had told him that “by September, some places will feel like a mixture of the Roaring Twenties and the summer of love.” Most of us spent the past year under “a lot of caution”: It wasn’t until last March that brands (including those with whom we have barely any relationship) flooded our inboxes with updates on the novel coronavirus describing all possible security measures and contingencies Plans. They emphasized notions of “community” and “health” and explained how they “observe” the evolving “situation”. Vox’s Rebecca Jennings pointed out that even the fashion brand Reformation, known for sending out ridiculously random email subject lines, briefly muted its overzealous tone.
As the pandemic got less new, so did the brand message. The Reformation and the thousands of brands we have parasocial relationships with have returned to their usual antics. This week I received an email from nuuly, Urban Outfitters’ subscription apparel service, with a subject line in capital letters: IN CASE OF FAMILY EVENTS. At which family events? My mom isn’t even vaccinated yet! (In a conference call on March 2, Urban Outfitters said interest in clothes for going out has increased.)
The emails and messages we receive may only get more eager or carefree. “The tone of paid content will always be more upbeat, with higher-than-normal doses of temptation,” said Cassidy. The return to true normalcy is expected to be slow, which leaves more room for error from a public relations perspective. The U.S. schedule to achieve herd immunity is still in flux, despite President Joe Biden’s call to open vaccinations to all adults by May 1. There is no global end date for the pandemic. Plus, economic recovery isn’t a guarantee: Economists don’t expect unemployment rates to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. According to Ted Rossman, consumer spending is still “artificially supported” by the federal government’s economic stimulus program. a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.
The broken nature of American recovery makes it incredibly difficult for brands to shape their messages. Many people may hesitate to emulate the unabashed lust of Suitsupply, especially since consumers have consciously become more critical of Brandpeak, even contemptuous. During the lockdown, we spent more time online and encountered ad saturation. And the various solidarity statements and corporate initiatives in the wake of the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were not immune to public scrutiny.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a sudden change of brands. It will likely be more subtle and slower when it comes to making brands adapt to some kind of opening in the future, ”said Jenny Gyllander, founder of Thingtesting, a review website for emerging direct-to-consumer brands. “It’s interesting to see how the tone of voice changes. I think we’re seeing more optimism, humor and bold graphics. “
The “sensuality” of Suitsupply advertising, she added, is not universally attractive to all post-pandemic experiences. Some emerging brands have fully turned to the domestic, cozy aspect of quarantine while emphasizing self-care and the importance of the home. While Suitsupply’s campaign went viral, it is uncertain whether the surge in online exposure resulted in significant sales or conveyed loyalty or care to customers.
Branding activity over the past year has been overwhelming and it is time for companies to shift their reach, said Gyllander, “I think in the coming months many will tend towards a hybrid type of message because our lives are not returning anytime soon becomes normal. Most of us will continue to work from home. Restaurants will continue to offer take-away. “
Gyllander predicted that certain topics like connection and hope could be more appealing to a wider consumer segment. However, we can safely assume that a subset of quirky brands will benefit from the enticing thrill of vaccination season. The quarantine made us – brands social media managers included – “mostly horny”.
Consumers have generally responded to ads showing intimacy and sociability in a post-pandemic future, reports Business Insider. According to Pattern89, an artificial intelligence advertising company, there has been “a huge increase in the use of people in intimate photos” in advertising. Still, given the many injustices exacerbated by the pandemic, advertisers are struggling to figure out which messages are appropriate. There’s the added emotional toll and trauma of coronavirus that can’t be waved away, and it will be some time before some enjoy a renewed world where we can touch and talk to strangers.
“It’s been a terrible year,” said Cassidy. “A lot of consumers want it to feel a little good, but optimism doesn’t mean recklessness. I tell our clients to avoid any event, stunt or news item that even remotely implies condoning unsafe, insensitive or unethical activities under the guise of optimism. ”
It is possible that the advertising industry is booming as it was after World War II. Back then, brands were selling the American future, which encouraged people to “overcome repressed desires and encourage mass consumption,” said Joseph Malherek, historian of capitalism and American consumer culture.
It’s tempting to draw historical parallels with the postwar era: most Americans had sacrificed years of comfort and luxury to add to the war effort, and it was the job of advertisers to lure consumers into purchase with a vision of a prosperous, automated future. Today, however, we can collectively roll our eyes at the performative sexuality and hedonism encouraged by the wildest of advertisements since we no longer need them to tell ourselves how to live. We already know excess. It’s only a matter of time before we can pamper ourselves again.
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