Expert's warning over how COVID-19 advertising could backfire

As COVID-19 took over almost every aspect of daily life, it also took over advertising with brands using the pandemic to make products more relatable  - and some Kiwis weren't happy about it.

According to Advertising Standards Authority chief executive Hilary Souter the organisation received 22 complaints over COVID-19 centered adverts.

Souter says the majority of the problematic adverts were online. 

"Most of the ones that did have a case to answer were digital," she told The Project on Thursday.

She says some social media ads targeted vulnerable people with pseudo science and miracle cures to make a quick buck.

While in the age of a pandemic it's COVID rather than sex that sells, but one expert warned that technique could easily backfire.

Val Hooper, a marketing professor at Victoria University, says sometimes brands can go too far in trying to be relatable.

"This whole 'trust us, we're with you' - we hear that time and time again but I think if it's not linked to the product or the service then… it's quite transparent and quite frankly people get a little jaundiced about it."

Hooper says the Government COVID-19 adverts were a great example of effective marketing.

"I think their whole approach in their messaging was really very, very good - it didn't identify any one group in the population," she said.

Plus there was a secret message in the now-recognisable yellow striped adverts. 

"The yellow lines were diagonal and to the right - meaning we will move forward and upward which was very clever - it was a very subtle message!"

So while the Government got it right, businesses have a little more to answer for. 

Watch the full interview above.