Promotion During a Pandemic: Should My Business Benefit from the Coronavirus Crisis?

It is Friday afternoon. Schools are closed, events are cancelled, everyone (and I mean everyone) is home and I’m stuck at an ethical crossroads. 

Someone I trust and respect reminded me today that it’s a great time to market and sell our product to families. I realize they’re right too.  

Clever Kids Mysteries can provide tremendous value as a welcome distraction to families seeking entertainment as they hunker down and self-quarantine to help contain what we now know is a wildly spreading and deadly strain of the corona virus,. As a tabletop game for kids and parents, our games provide the perfect distraction for stir-crazy Saturdays.  

Yet, my conscience pulls at me from the other direction.  People are dying from COVID-19, which is now a national emergency in the US and a global pandemic. Is it right to promote a product that does nothing to combat or remedy the virus?  If I go strong selling our games, am I being opportunistic in the very worst way? It certainly feels like it. 

Of course, umbrella salesmen take advantage of rainstorms. Hardware storms market materials during hurricane season. At the time of this writing, Best Buy is promoting items very relevant to the current situation: large screen TVs, freezer chests for storing food and video game consoles. As a for-profit organization, Best Buy has a fiduciary duty to their investors to maximize profits. I understand their stance. 

I am trying mightily to reconcile the opportunity to sell vs. the opportunity to help. I want desperately for the two to co-exist, but understand that’s virtually impossible. To fully help would mean giving away our games to families who could benefit from an educational form of entertainment.  The business would fall over. To sell would mean ratcheting up marketing to the point where we’re capitalizing on a virus that’s swiftly taking lives. I’m not good with either strategy, especially the latter.

Like most negotiations (even those you have with yourself), I have landed somewhere in the middle and will sell the game at a price point that barely covers the cost of developing the game. The final resolution is hardly perfect but does check the right boxes.  Hopefully, I can provide the game to families at a time when many around the world are in a state of flux, a moment of uncertainty or a phase of deep panic. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a virus and we’d live our lives like we always have. In reality, folks need respite from what seems like a nightmare and at Clever Kids Mysteries, we’ll do our part to provide some relief.

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