Swine Flu Creates Marketing Fever, Headaches

Timing is everything in business. Opportunities often have a rather small time window that can be capitalized. But, when the window is open, one must consider what the opportunity holds for a business. In the case of the current H1N1 flu (a.k.a. swine flu), concerns about health have created opportunities for marketers to appeal to consumers' desires to stay well. Makers of soaps and hand sanitizers are stepping up their marketing efforts, and those efforts are aided by media reports in which health experts tout hand washing and sanitizing as among the most important actions we can take to minimize exposure to the flu. Brands such as Dial (soap) and HandClens (sanitizer) are responding to an increased emphasis by consumers to use their products. Also, they are promoting good hygiene in general, not "use our product so you won't get swine flu."

On the other hand, the H1N1 flu has created headaches for pork producers. The name "swine flu" is not good for promoting pork consumption. The National Pork Producers Council has gone on the offensive to make the case that swine flu is not a food-borne illness and that pork products are safe to eat. Sometimes, circumstances or misfortune bring harm to a brand's reputation. The pork industry currently faces this dilemma; the proactive response to allay concerns about the safety of consuming pork was the right (and really only) thing to do.

Link: Wall Street Journal - "Soap Makers, Others Hitch Ads to Swine Flu"