With the novel coronavirus suddenly upending daily life, brands have struggled to find a viable creative footing to continue communicating to their audience. The generic “COVID-19 ad” has already sunk to the realm of self-parody, but some creative trends are proving successful:
Note: for more detailed tips, insights, and guidelines to structure an end-to-end crisis response, check out the COVID-19 Response Plan for Brands and Businesses.
This hashtag has been used in the wake of many tragedies, from fires to lives lost to gun violence – and the novel coronavirus is no exception. The NFL used this format in their current #StayHomeStayStrong campaign. The video features a plethora of their athletes sharing what they have been doing during isolation. The athletes filmed themselves with their phones, which added a rawness and authenticity to the campaign, which delivered 4.3 million views as of April 22, 2020.
This seems to be the overarching theme from a large portion of brand content we’re seeing these days – supporting what we are required to do to help our world heal, while reminding everyone that we are not alone.
Nike’s campaign, Play for the World, focuses on individuals staying active in their homes – from the general public to top athletes from around the world.
(image courtesy of Nike)
Instagram is also promoting staying at home with a “sticker” that users can place on stories that says “Stay Home.” Upon doing so, the content is automatically added to a highlight that appears in the beginning of all of followers’ feeds.
With events being postponed or even canceled, artists and event promoters work through the current situations and continue to cater to their fans through a digital platform.
Pepsi has partnered with Global Citizen, urging their followers to stay at home. Together they are putting on a Livestream event – One World Together At Home – celebrating healthcare workers. This event is hosted by Lady Gaga and has many big name artists performing. It will be taking place on April 18th.
Insomniac Events had to cancel/postpone some of their festivals, but instead of just leaving their fans waiting, they coordinated multiple Virtual Rave-A-Thons that have been wildly successful. Beyond Wonderland, one of the rescheduled festivals, usually brings about 40,000 attendees for the two day shows. The “Virtual Rave” was free and was streamed live by 3.5 million people.
Emphasis Commitment to Employees and Customers
Ford’s ads remind its audience of the company’s long history of support — both during the current crisis, and crises of the past. Verizon, similarly, reassured customers that they are constantly working to keep you connected.
That being said, there is a risk of backlash for brands that come across as too self-congradulatory when spending ad dollars to promote their own charitable commitments.
Adapting for At-Home Consumers
Brands are adapting to their consumer’s 2 main needs: (1) living from home and (2) wanting to stay connected to their social circles. Brands catering to these needs include:
In the fitness and sports apparel space, Under Armour released their HOVR™ SONIC 3’s – a shoe that connects to an app to help train without the need for a gym. There has been an influx in the number of people posting their home workouts, and brands who have centered their social media posts around helping their consumers stay active at home.
Restaurants are doing what they can to mitigate lost revenue from dining areas being closed by providing special menus and offering delivery or curbside pickup. Pinterest created an entire page on their website called, “Stay Safe. Stay Inspired.” with resources and ideas for things to do during these times at home.
Many brands have been focusing on cause marketing. The simplest form of this is often perceived as the most effective and authentic: putting your money where your mouth is.
Barefoot Winery has donated a large sum to Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), which supports employees of food businesses and their families who are dealing with life-changing circumstances.
Tik-Tok, is focusing on donating to a Health Heros Relief Fund, Community Relief Fund, and Creative Learning Fund amongst other community support initiatives.
Spotify, has created a COVID-19 Music Relief Fund where they are matching donations up to $10 million to help the creative community where it is impacted.