ANDREAS KAJU: HOW TO COMMUNICATE IN TIMES OF WAR?
Andreas Kaju, the founder of META Advisory, shares his recommendations on what to keep in mind when it comes to marketing communications in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
1. In general, war references in brand communications should be avoided (an example: Shop X is sympathizing with the Ukrainian people; thus, it decides to change its social media profile picture). Or at least—if in doubt, don’t do it. Often such communication, regardless of the good intentions of the doer, is disrespectful of people’s real suffering, devaluing it. Clever copywriting won’t change that. This can sound harsh to the worried Estonian marketing experts, but your words are worth nothing in this situation. Instead, do something as we have real opportunities for that (introduced below).
2. Referring to war when used as an argument to sell products or services to people should be completely ruled out. If a company makes such claims in conjunction with a bargaining campaign, I would advise journalists to ensure if and where the company is donating. In any case, this should be ruled out. If you want to help, then help, but don’t tell the customer that I will help if you buy more of my products and services at such-and-such a price in the future.
Referring to war when used as an argument to sell products or services to people should be completely ruled out.
3. We will treat companies that publicly announce their donations to organizations and institutions approved by the Ukrainian state (or Estonia) with goodwill. Those who directly and authentically help the people in need deserve society’s appreciation. The actual cost and new risks will follow real aid in today’s world. In addition, courageous steps by companies help mobilize other supporters in society.
4. I would also recommend contributing to humanitarian aid. Organizations in Estonia have the experience and skills to use the money to ensure its impact. However, direct donations are currently the most effective (I believe that the Ministry of Finance will soon resolve the issues involved—so that donations can be made without paying income tax).
5. Many companies can also support by donating their products. This is entirely appropriate—before doing so, it is worth making sure which products meet the standards Ukraine needs and can use (these lists are available), and it is also worth consulting the Red Cross. In addition, the NGO Estonian Refugee Aid centralizes assistance to war refugees, and the Social Insurance Board should also be kept informed.
* Certainly, the preceding does not apply to the party at war. They are, of course, allowed to use the power of the word and the image to the maximum extent possible. In times of war, production is readjusted to what is needed at the time.