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  • Katarina Gentry

Top 10 COVID-19 Ads

During the ongoing stay-at-home orders, companies large and small are having to revise their creative approach. Check out this list of the top brand creatives produced in response to the crisis, respecting the situation while still achieving the brand's business objectives.


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.


1. Buffalo Wild Wings #SportsLiveOn

“We’re a brand that connects people over their shared love of sports, and even though sports aren’t on TV, they’re still playing out in living rooms across the globe.” - Seth Freeman | Chief Marketing Officer, Buffalo Wild Wings.


This Sports Bar franchise is staying top of mind and promoting its online ordering with a series of social media-centric campaigns highlighting impromptu sports played at home, including golf shots chipped into cups and basketball trick shots played with balled up socks. It seems to be working, as the brand is currently planning to continue the campaign even after its restaurants re-open.


2. LinkedIn "We're In It Together"

Many brands are struggling to balance finding a supportive tone while actually promoting their products. LinkedIn did a good job threading the needle with this video, showing how it continues to help keep people connected in important ways - while also highlighting the power of the platform.


3. Ford "Built to Lend a Hand"

Like many brands focusing on cause marketing right now, Ford is creating awareness around what they are doing to help, from making posters on how to pump at the gas station while staying sanitized, to how to properly sanitize the inside of your vehicle, to how many masks the brand has created. Ford is also showcasing its work supporting America through past crises.


The ads are getting a lot of great feedback in social media comments, and Ford is staying on top of replying to many of them and making sure they are being heard.


Retweets for different COVID-19-related posts range from 50-2,000

(image courtesy of Ford)

(image courtesy of Ford)



4. AT&T "Serving Those Who Serve"

It's no secret that telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast struggle with an image problem. For these brands, the crisis is providing an opportunity to do some good in the world while re-shaping public opinion and brand loyalty. This AT&T ad is focusing on how the company is giving front line workers 3 free months of service, the tagline being, “serving those who serve”


Is it working? Tough to say at this point. Judging by the negative responses on social media and YouTube, possibly not, but harsh comments can be at least partly attributed to the passionate consumer critics the company had amassed before the crisis even began.


Actor John Krasinski celebrated AT&T’s behavior on his weekly vlog. “I may not know much, but I do know what good news looks like,” Krasinski said during the episode. "And AT&T, through FirstNet, their network dedicated solely to first responders, are offering to take care of our healthcare heroes in an unprecedented way."



5. Hershey's "Spread Love From a Distance"

Hershey's found a good way to promote its candy around the Easter holiday while promoting social distancing - encouraging consumers to send “kisses” to their family in a safe way.


These ads are a good example of a brand being respectful and responsive to the current situation while managing to maintain a playful and fun tone (and focusing on the product).

(image courtesy of Hershey)


6. Panera Bread

Korrin Miller of Delish states, “Family meal specials are having a major moment right now. Panera is in the mix with a family meal you’re going to want to check out for yourself.”


The brand uses stop motion to create dynamic visuals within the constraints of the current practical constraints on video production. So far, it's been a success. People are blogging about the deal and tagging the twitter video alongside it.


Panera has also been producing short videos celebrating individual delivery drivers during the crisis, putting a human face on the company.

(image courtesy of Panera Bread)


7. Sam’s Club "Thank You, All"

Sam's Club is also opting to put a human face on the company with this ad, showing workers in action while thanking them each, individually.


8. Jeep "It's Time to Explore the Great Indoors"

Jeep's new static ads are cleverly expressing the average person's desire to get back on the road, using everyday household items to re-create the iconic front of their vehicles.


People are responding well in the twitter comments of the post, appreciating that jeep is sympathizing with the public while continuing to promote with understated images.

(images courtesy of Jeep)


9. Local - Rock Star Beer Festivals "Digital Beer Festival"

San Francisco is opting to host a "virtual beer tasting" instead of cancelling yet another event. The ad is a simple picture of a beer glass that looks like it has coding on it, and a quick paragraph explaining the details of the event.


The impact comes from imagery that is is simple yet eye-catching, while still providing the necessary information for the event.

(image courtesy of Rock Star Beer Festivals)


10. Ohio Department of Health "Flatten the Curve"

There has been no shortage of advertising content created by the public sector to help educate and promote safe behavior, but nothing has made quite the impact of Ohio Department of Health's viral "mousetrap" video.


The PSA elegantly communicates a concept that people have still been struggling with, despite it being talked about 24/7 on every channel: social distancing. The video's clever visual storytelling led to it trending all over social media, and saw massive pickup in earned media. The comments on the platforms were overwhelmingly celebratory of not just the message, but the creativity involved.


43.4k retweets, 767k views on Youtube #ohiohealthdepartment


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