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Staying relevant while people #stayathome: How podcasts can be the answer for brands reviewing their creative during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Sofia Hellsten, Creative Director

These are challenging but important days for many brands and marketeers. Producing new, adjusted creatives and campaigns to suit these (hopefully temporary) changes in reality is important, to avoid losing consumers both now and once we come out on the other side.

This can feel overwhelming, complicated and expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. Podcasting gives us the room to be both creative and flexible, while not requiring a set crew or a fat production budget.

Right now, many marketers are probably battling at least one of the following challenges — and podcasts might just be the answer they’re looking for.

Humane campaign creatives that maintain preference and brand liking

You might argue that much of advertising is about showing people a dreamy, desired state that they can aspire to. However, right now, showcasing your brand with people having a party or licking their fingers at a restaurant might instead leave the viewer feeling frustrated and interpreting your brand as negligent or irresponsible. More than one brand has already faced backlash for a creative that clashed with our current reality.

Just as an irrelevant or upsetting creative can be harmful, there can be value in one that is relevant and empathic. We don’t by any means want brands to exploit people in distress, but new realities means new wants and needs.

The drivers behind our behaviour as consumers are, unsurprisingly, affected by the pandemic — and this is a reality every brand needs to face. Being personal, human and relevant is more important than ever, with people seeking out voices they know and trust for both comfort and entertainment.

We’ve just launched our own Staycast campaign — using some of our most recognisable voices around the world to remind listeners of local government advice around the pandemic, while also encouraging them to discover new podcasts while they stay at home.

There’s certainly value that brands can keep delivering to the consumer, and the personal and intimate media that is podcasts can help do exactly that in a very humane way. Let people’s “best friends” — our podcast hosts — who are in the same situation, talk to them honestly and credibly, carrying your brand message.

Keeping up with conversations

Things change fast. Last week’s news is today’s history, and the same goes for your brand communication. Most of our podcasters are still recording episodes on a weekly basis — meaning they can quickly adjust and record the message you as a brand want to get across.

Much like they adjust their content every week. They stay accessible and relatable, and listeners engage in these conversations around brands. And, should conditions change during the campaign period, an updated brief and a re-recording is easily pulled together.

Because many of our podcasters have the equipment to record from home, production of an audio ad can be simple as it doesn’t require a large production team to be on set together. Sound and voice-overs can easily be recorded in solitude, then pulled together to form a prevailing and updated campaign message without breaking quarantines (or the bank).

Acast Marketplace is the home of podcast buying globally, and your connection to the world’s best podcasts, the most talented creators, and the most engaged listeners — across any and every podcast platform.

Keeping up with a world that screams for (good) content

Social media platforms are brimming with “stuff to consume while in quarantine” — everything from books and movies to recipes and home work-outs. Things that take time. Because that’s what (we at least tell ourselves) we have plenty of.

Unfortunately there’s only so much Tiger King you can watch. But the fact that people are looking for longer-format entertainment poses a great opportunity for brand building, and branded episodes in podcasts in particular.

Imagine an environment where, for 30–40 minutes, a trusted voice tells your brand story to a dedicated audience in a highly intimate setting. Two birds with one stone. We (the humble consumers) get more content to consume, and you as a brand get to spend time with active listeners for a significant period of time.

It’s proven to be effective, and the best part is the production and content is on us — our podcasters create the episode just as they would their regular ones, with the difference being that you get to set the agenda.

Many of our creators are facing the same challenge as brands are, and have answered by adapting to these new circumstances to provide fantastic, much-needed content for their listeners.

Swedish interview podcast Värvet is releasing a mini-series featuring people whose work is keeping the country going during the crisis. US podcast Hot & Bothered is launching a new mini-series called Twilight in Quarantine where the hosts will be re-reading the Twilight books one chapter at a time, and Australia’s favourite business podcast, How I work, is doing bonus episodes called “How I work from Home”. There’s no reason brands can’t do the same.

Staying creative on a time limit

We know that creative solutions don’t always come easily, but boundaries can sometimes be the best food for creativity. At Acast Creative we’re always striving to make sure the ads, sponsorships and branded content we run for brands are engaging for listeners, and sound the best they possibly can.

In times like these a cooking club (or a good old book club) hosted by our talent could be just the way to make your food brand more relevant. Or when people are stuck at home with too much time on their hands why not help them become better versions of themselves (#konmari was huge even before home quarantines).

How about providing the listener with a well-needed pause for mindfulness? Or, if it’s setting up a savings strategy or making sure your wardrobe looks flawless, now is an opportunity to nudge people towards habits that work for your brand. We’re here to help create and produce suitable content for brands wanting to join the podcast train.

In short

Podcasts have the inherent trait of being able to deliver a brand message in a highly personal and humane way. In these uncertain times, where some creative formats may fail and old creatives are rendered useless, podcasts answer the need for agility that so many brands are looking for.

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