How to make money out of swine flu

It is a public relations technique to promote your product or organisation using current events. The swine flu “pandemic” is no different. I started writing this blog a fortnight ago but didn’t post it. However, now the pandemic is quietening down I have revisited it.

Many businesses have used swine flu to promote their products and services. However they must be careful to be sensitive to the situation and not to be seen to capitalising on people’s fears. Several organisations seemed to be doing just that:

  • There was a Google adwords campaign for Prophecy News Watch connecting us to a bible prophecy site. Google will be there at the end of the world it seems.

  • In the mainstream press the US Humane Society had used swine flu to scare American meat-eaters into vegetarianism by blaming American pork producers, quite wrongly, for the outbreak.

Other businesses were just opportunistic:

  • Latex gloves and surgical masks were marketed as swine flu products

  • had created a line of marginally humorous T-shirts the best with flying pigs, that is, swine flew

Now with the worst fears of the disease disappearing there are still marketing opportunities for products:

  • one telephone and computer disinfection service offers its product to reduce absenteeism

  • an on-line news service will keep you up to date with the pandemic

  • contingency crisis planning services are available for organisations to manage the impacts of swine flu

  • watch out for anti-bacterial hand washes (swine flu is a virus not a bacteria) and air sterilizers will help you avoid deadly viruses

  • the US Food and Drug Administration has warned one company for offering a “SilverCure Swine Flu Protection Pack” made-up of toiletries that deposit traces of silver (silver is being claimed as a cure)

The lesson is really about tapping into what is topical with your advertising and PR without being sleazy.