The CNN show “Erin Burnett OutFront” spent much of its time on Friday focused, like many other news programs, on the coronavirus outbreak and the thousands of people isolated on the Grand Princess cruise ship near California.

During the commercial break, one spot stood out: an upbeat ad for Norwegian Cruise Line, a competitor.

It was one of many awkward ad placements as companies try to reach skittish customers while protecting their brands from becoming collateral damage in the growing coronavirus outbreak.

Norwegian, which declined to comment, has paid nearly $10 million for digital ads so far this year on Facebook, Wayfair, Expedia and other sites, compared with $2.4 million at the same time last year. Competitors like Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Viking Cruises have also increased their spending on advertising, according to the advertising analytics platform Pathmatics.

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