It was fine at first, and I myself am certainly guilty of using phrases addressing the time we were going through in March as uncertain, unprecedented and confusing. Consistently having CNN on all day has not only left such an imprint that you can see the outline of the red banner on my screen when the TV is off, it’s also the reason I’m usually tuned in to the goings-on of the world fairly ahead of schedule. In early March, with my European in-laws having invaded my house, I was well aware of the virus raging through China and rapidly spreading to other parts of the world. I was uncertain how long it would take until the epidemic switched prefixes, but when the World Health Organization officially labeled the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, I became nervous that my father- and sister-in-law wouldn’t be able to get home with increasingly confusing travel bans being instituted. Luckily, before the stay at home orders had even set in, it also became clear to them that it was time for a change of plans – and flights.
After the in-laws had safely departed, as the virus spread throughout the US, so did the unprecedented orders to stay at home. The quarantine was really becoming official, and when the stock market plummeted, it became clear this would be a 9/11-level event that would change this country – and the world – forever. With millions of people losing their jobs amid the collapse of the travel, hospitality and retail industries, the death toll continues to rise every day. Our new normal became anything but, and now that we are a few weeks in to living out this sci-fi thriller of a reality, the marketing to consumers has understandably followed.
It is true that now in order to connect with people, reaching out must be executed through the lens of a world existing with coronavirus. Regular television commercials and advertisements have increasingly been replaced by ones reflecting the current state of a life in quarantine, offering a product or service that will help make this situation just a little bit better. However, most of what is being advertised existed before COVID-19, and will certainly be available after. Therefore, agencies have leaned on phrases like “In these uncertain times” to automatically address the new world we live in while moving right along to get you to spend the money you may or may not still have.
To that I say knock it off.
Yes, times were uncertain, next steps were confusing and all of this change is certainly unprecedented. But at this point, we’re stuck with this situation until the foreseeable future, so let’s stop pretending it has an expiration date. The world will never go back to the way it was, so these times that we’re currently living in sure are uncertain, but instead of labeling them as such, it is time we accept this new normal and instead take the opportunity to all make it feel that way.