What’s The COVID-19 Impact on TV Advertising in Sitcoms


Strategic brand communication during the COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges for advertisers. Whether to produce coronavirus-specific ads or to maintain traditional messaging must be carefully considered, along with where to place spots.

This could make ad placement in sitcoms a more difficult task than, say, news programming.

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A new study from MediaScience finds just how audiences responded to TV campaigns from key brands such as Amazon, Domino’s and Ford.

Ad pods featured a mixture of standard ads and ads produced to be relevant to COVID-19. Each brand was tested as a COVID-19 ad or a standard ad, featuring traditional messaging, which often included people not practicing social distancing. After the viewing experience, participants took a post-exposure survey that assessed brand memory, purchase intent, ad liking, and brand attitude.

What did MediaScience find? Context is important.

“The news environment is often safer for COVID-focused brand messaging,” MediaScience found. As such, creative execution is important and must be researched.

Further, informational messaging generally doesn’t perform as well as a brand’s traditional ads. And, where informational messaging is important, it works better in the news environment.

“The results demonstrate that both context and creative execution are critical,” MediaScience concludes.

For aided brand recall across genres, Amazon’s COVID-19 ad got a 90% lift over its traditional ads. Domino’s coronavirus ad experienced a 9% lift in News media over their standard ad. Ford’s COVID-19 brand messaging adversely impacted brand sentiment in ad-liking, and purchase intent in the comedy environment, highlighting the risk it could pose to the brand’s equity.