Meanwhile, KFC, which coined the phrase “finger lickin’ good,” has suspended ads showing people licking their fingers while eating its fried chicken.
With not just finger licking but handshakes and hugs now taboo, new gestures have taken its place. “The Wuhan shake,” tapping feet together, as well as the elbow bump have shown up in social media footage around the world, the BBC reported last month.
There are indications that some of these new behaviors may have sticking power.
A US survey on pandemic attitudes by Wunderman Thompson Data found that while the majority expect to go back to their regular activities and behavior after the crisis, that’s not so much the case with person-to-person interactions.
While more than 70% expect to go back to frequenting restaurants, movie theaters and sporting and cultural events, the numbers fell for certain social interactions. 35% said they expect avoiding hugs to become the new normal and 36% expect to continue social distancing.
Forty-one percent said they do not expect to go back to kissing someone on the cheek by way of greeting, while 43% said they do not expect to resume shaking hands. The survey covered 500 adults in the United States and was conducted between March 20 and 23, 2020.
In countries with significant Muslim populations, the start of Ramadan in the final week of April will pose fresh questions for appropriate messaging. Ramadan is usually very social, with mass praying and family and friends meeting each evening to break fast together, capped by Hari Raya or Eid al Fitr celebrations at the end of a month of fasting.
To stop the spread of COVID-19, Singapore and Malaysia have already closed mosques and banned Ramadan bazaars, the evening markets selling cooked food for breaking of fast. Indonesia, where the celebration is known as Lebaran, is mulling a lockdown on city-dwellers to prevent the annual exodus to hometowns around the vast archipelago, having learned from China’s example during Lunar New Year in January.
With many businesses hurting and people losing their jobs, depictions of feasting and other celebrations even from home can be offensive to those suffering.
“Brands that are still planning to advertise during this period need to take into consideration that the staple scenes and messages of Ramadan will not resonate, or worse, go against the norm of social distancing and be insensitive to millions who are unable to meet with family or follow the usual religious rituals,” said Bernadette Duisters, a senior planner in Wunderman Thompson Jakarta.
“We need to explore how we can communicate the good values of Ramadhan—purity, goodness, modesty, forgiveness and togetherness—in this new reality.”