Sanjeev Kotnala: Time for ad, marketing & media to help raise awareness on Covid second wave

23 Apr,2021

Sanjeev KotnalaBy Sanjeev Kotnala


The Corona second wave is rising by the day. The numbers are growing. Scarcity of drugs, oxygen and beds is reaching the tipping point. It is just short of arson and looting. Possibility exists that the situation  can spiral out of control. A civil disobedience movement may start.

The Corona virus has not only dented the economy, it has scarred relationships,. Both may take a long time to heal. In a situation where self-survival is critical, most (not all) have refused to give a helping hand. The internet may want you to believe differently.

Families that have grown in an environment of social interdependence are now left to fend for themselves in the Corona second wave. The national fabric is broken and maybe unrepairable.



We know, who in addition to the government of silly priorities, should be blamed for this mess in Corona second wave. There is no denying the fact that the  elected government has failed the people of the country.

They celebrated the win too early in the race. Too soon, disbanded the temporary infrastructure built to fight the virus. Did  they really not anticipate Corona second wave? Did they not foresee the dark possibility from enhanced level of complacency and misplaced confidence: The Government remained silent when they should have been communicating. They have failed to stop the spread.

How blind can one be to not see the next wave and get ready. Could they have really done something differently to diffuse or manage Corona Second Wave?

In fact, we would have been far better off if the elections were postponed. Marriages banned. Social and religious functions and gathering not allowed. The place of worships closed. Kumbh curtailed to a symbolic offering by priest. EID to follow in similar way. Worked to up oxygen production. Early medical exams to get more doctors on the ground.

The lockdown rules and definition changed by the hour. The states and centre coordination in tatters really proved how regionalised we are. There was nothing to enhance the confidence or discourage the masses. It only confused people.

Maybe a total two-month lockdown would have been better. Maybe. No one knows what would have been better,

The Government and other political parties have continued politicking. Blame game is on during Corona second wave.

The government did everything they should not have done. We have now is a man-made disaster. Just like today, we don’t know what to expect in future.

Yes, we don’t know what could have helped, but we know what has escalated the problem.



You may not like the thought. But maybe it is we who are to be blamed. Individually and collectively. Because we are like that only.

We are so very religious that we suspect everyone, including our own people.

We are full of conspiracy, doubts and illogical expressions and baseless communication.

We are experts in passing the blame. After all, we know everything. We have been too dependent on others, including the Government that we laugh at the idea of being Atmanirbhar.

We lack the capability of logically dissecting arguments. We are kaan ka kaccha and internet ka gaddha, who believes everything they see, hear or read. We are yet to learn from Gandhiji ke teen Bandar.

Not only we believe it, but we are also proudly forward it to demonstrate our knowledge and network. It helps us to make a point that subtly shouts. I know more than you.

We shunned vaccination. We hoarded medicines. We believed all the rumours but never the benefits. Questioned need to mask. Continued with large gatherings. Did not postpone or cancel functions. Did not practice the three golden acts of sanitation, wash and distancing. The choice was always with us.

We are as much to blame for this condition as is the government. And like politicians, we better not fight about who is more to blame, but try helping to ease the situations.



There has been no honest communication from the government during the first or the corona Second Wave.

With rumours and half-baked and fake information in circulation, this serious lapse in judgement created a state of uncertainty, fair and confusion.

Transparency be dammed; the masses never even knew of the restrictions expected the following day.

The government actions during Corona second wave are nothing short of a series of knee jerk reactions. In fact, they seem to like the six blindfolded man and Elephant in the room.

Definitely, this was the time for the Government to effectively use the communication possibilities and keep everyone updated.



We are the same people who jump red-lights, bride everywhere, don’t wear helmet or seatbelt, jaywalk at our own convenience and believe that my god is better than yours. That my God will save me first. And that bad things happen to others and not to me. Naturally, then not wearing the mask, avoiding vaccine and questioning by believing every rumour and forwards without checking comes naturally to me.



We elect the government for unrelated reasons, myopic caste-creed-religion-region-gender logic and false party manifesto. We are the ones who willingly remain gullible to the turn arounds by the politicians.

We are the one who refuses to believe the people we elect to run the country. Oh, yes, we have more and more reasons to do so.

We are the people for whom neighbour’s success is more painful than our failure.

We are the ones who will easily find fault in others.



Yes, the possibility exists. When we realise that the government has failed to act and do its part, the solution must then be with the masses who have helped perpetuate the situation.

Keep following the three golden acts, wear a mask, keep a safe distance and repeatedly wash hands.

Do not step out unless you must. Act like citizen police, question everyone not following these norms.

Do not hoard items of any nature. Do not start keeping oxygen cylinders in anticipation or hoarding the dugs for use at a later date. It breaks the supply chain and loop. Creates artificial scarcity. This leads to mismanaged medical emergencies, and then a zone of uncertainty and fear gets created.

Do not keep forwarding unreliable unchecked information on social media.

Do not let the guard down for this invisible enemy.

In case diagnosed positive, check and see if you really need hospitalization, or home-hospital is best for you. Corona second wave is not the  time to burden the stretched medical system and infrastructure.



Yes, we all are the influencers. May be we can influence a few and celebrities can influence thousands. Every one of us has a role.

Even if you can influence only one person. Do it.

Every influence and changed behaviour counts.

If nothing else, be the one to demonstrate the right behaviour.

Remember, we are as weak as the weakest link.



Oh, the media, advertising and marketing fraternity is absent from the scene.

The marketers are missing a chance to connect with the audience and further strengthen your brand. No, I am not referring to the brand that’s are trying to exploit the situation with products that wrongly stake the claim or falsely hint at providing immunity and protection against Covid or Coronavirus. A lot more can be done. Brands can use their platforms, social handles, communication and media to promote the right actions by the audience.

In addition to reporting the actual situation, the media fails in their role of questioning the Government. Known for so many special days messages and CSR, they are nowhere using their space and time to share the right information or pushing the correct behaviour. Suddenly civil cause seems not relevant to them. Maybe they should look at it as the opportunity to connect and work with and for their audience.

The advertising agencies are silent. What happened to the prides of understanding the consumer. Knowing and  pressing the right levers to trigger behavioural change. What will make them create communication to nudge people to follow the rules, practice precautions and unnecessarily not pressurise the system? Or, have we become so commercialised that we only work when there is a client brief  or an award at stake. What about self-motivated work? An industry that found many innovative ways to create and communicate is silent. Where are the legends? We need them to take out their magic wand and show us how powerful communication can be.


If anyone can break the chain, stop the spread and beat the virus, it is not the government but a conscious cautious citizen like you and me. So, follow the rules and instructions. Take every possible precaution. Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.



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