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Online Advertising During COVID-19: Doing it Right

With most of us staying at home, it is boom time for social media and video-streaming platforms.  Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have each experienced exponential growth in users.  Now, more than ever, we are signing-in to access newsfeeds, connect with loved ones or to fill in time while stuck indoors.

It is unsurprising that many brands have reduced their advertising spend given the economic impact of Covid-19.  However, the uptick in social media traffic presents unique opportunities for engaging with online audiences and keeping brand awareness high.  For example, Scottish independent brewer, BrewDog, announced on Facebook that it has started manufacturing “BrewGel” hand sanitiser and is donating these to the NHS.  The announcement received thousands of likes, compared to the hundred or so that its Facebook posts usually get.

Of course, not all companies are able to switch production or offer freebies like BrewDog.  However, it is important for advertisers and their agencies to take care in messaging over these coming months.  Advertising initiatives that put togetherness at the fore and provide thoughtful services (aiding both customers and employees) will be positively received and well-remembered when the crisis passes, while those that prioritise short-term goals by taking advantage of people’s fears are not going to sit well.

Indeed, just last month the Advertising Standards Authority published two rulings against facemask promotions claiming that the masks could protect people from Covid-19.  As the claims were unsubstantiated, the promotions were banned on grounds that they were misleading and socially irresponsible.  This sort of regulatory investigation and reputational harm is the last thing that businesses need, so be careful out there.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 124


About this Author

Carlton Daniel Intellectual Property Attorney Squire Patton Boggs London, UK

Carlton Daniel advises on intellectual property rights, commercial contracts and consumer regulatory law. He handles both contentious and non-contentious matters.

Carlton has a particular focus on providing advice to clients in the advertising, marketing and media sectors, and also to businesses operating in the food and drink, retail, automotive and tech sectors.

Intellectual property rights: Carlton has significant experience advising on the exploitation and protection of trade marks, designs, copyright, databases, confidential information and patents. As...

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Lucy Hopman Intellectual Property & Technology Attorney Squire Patton Boggs London, UK

Lucy Hopman is an associate in our Intellectual Property & Technology Practice Group based in our London office.

She advises clients on a range of commercial and intellectual property matters, including contracting and marketing, licensing, brand protection and data privacy.

Lucy has a particular interest in the life sciences industry. She has undertaken a 10-month secondment at one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. She is knowledgeable about the ABPI Code, supply to the NHS and the use of medical/medical device claims in advertising to the public.

Related Services

  • Intellectual Property & Technology 
  • Life Sciences 
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