21 May 2020

Open Letter to Advertisers

Unfortunately, this could be the easiest Ad Campaign you’ve ever had to create.

If advertising is about empathy, then now more than ever, you can understand your customers’ fears and concerns. I’m not exactly comfortable around people right now. Are you?

And if advertising is about speaking to the right audience, you have a captive group of people looking for a return to anything that resembles “normal business.” But wait…is it safe?

Here are some thoughts. Let’s start by just being human. 

Please stop sending emails about the COVID Crisis, PPP money, or worse, trying to sell me your SEM service or some other crap in a spam email that has my name changed out at the top. You’re not helping your cause. You’re getting deleted. A personal note might help. I just sent our clients cookies and our employees a candle (because I know they stink). I’m not a gift-giver. I’m just trying to let people know they’re important to me. What’s important to you? What’s important to your customers? Maybe it’s the PERFECT time to let them know?

Try selling hope instead. 

This may sound ridiculous, but it’s possible. You have a chance, in your advertising, to reach a little further than you normally do. To touch people and provide something beyond your normal wares or services. You can hustle your product, or…maybe…you can alleviate a little anxiety and tell customers, at least when they shop with you, things will be ok. Maybe sprinkle in some laughter. “Come on back… we’re all coming back…we can do this!”

No one is asking for paradise right now. We just want to feel normal. Even for 5 minutes…, I’d love to not have to worry.

Another observation: let’s just be practical and simple about this.

We are all going through the same thing the customers are. Most people are flat out scared of getting sick.

Numerator did a poll in April. The number one consideration for in-store shopping- 84% of people said the first thing they would consider when going to a retailer is their increased sanitation procedures- this will determine where they shop. And 76% said they would like to see this continued even after all the stay at home orders have been lifted. 

 Source: Numerator Survey 4/21/2020

What would you like to see from the places you shop? Maybe you DO have a sanitation process. You may have floor markings, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer available. You may have revamped your floor plans and provided plexiglass over the credit card machines. THAT’S your ad campaign! Tell them about what you’re doing! Talk to me about what you’re doing to help ease my fears!

So here it is: You’ve got a bored captive online audience waiting for someone, something to give them a little ray of hope. Address their fears, keep them safe, keep them smiling, and you’ll be doing your part and help the world feel a little better. Isn’t that what you got into this industry for anyway?


Andy Pfeiffer was born as a baby like every other human being. Then he grew up and tried to make it as a professional baseball player…until the age of 12 when he pivoted to just going to college and “figuring out the rest later.” In the year 2000 he packed up his car and moved to Charlotte, NC where he discovered humility.

He now owns Arthur Elliott, an ad agency where his staff convinced him it would be a good idea to share his stories and thoughts so he wouldn’t talk so much in meetings.

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(Stop being a perv, get a dictionary.)

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