Now that the Covid-19 storm has mostly raged itself out it can be hard to remember how much was changed during that time.
During periods of lockdown, consumer circumstances and buying habits changed and brands were forced to change their operational approach as well as their messaging in response. Many experts saw this as a time for companies to reassess their brand strategy – as we looked at in our podcast episode on insights into how brands were dealing with the pandemic.
Despite being a highly creative industry, marketing isn’t always as innovative or risk-averse as you might believe. Many brands opted to remain conservative when it came to their campaigns for fear of tarnishing their reputation. For many, the pandemic was a time to pivot, to reinvent, to inspire, and to offer a viable solution to what was a very pressing problem.
We have highlighted five noteworthy marketing campaigns from the Covid-19 era that you should know about.
As the pandemic started taking hold in Europe and North America in early March and the lockdown loomed, Guinness stepped up to the mark with its 2021 'Saint Patrick's Day Message' campaign.
The uplifting, inspirational tone of this video, coupled with its theme of communal care and unity strikes an emotional chord while demonstrating value and humanizing the brand in uncertain times.
Original, relevant, and on-brand, Guinness yielded excellent results from this Covid-19 marketing campaign, with high favorability scores in the US (just outside the top 10% of most-revered campaigns). Moreover, 21% of the people that shared the video on social media did so because it defined the spirit and the mood of the times.
And towards the end of March, this Guinness-themed ad posted (featured at the top of the page) started circulating around social media: created by a freelancer who entered a One-Minute Briefs initiative in the UK, it actually touches on all the longstanding Guinness tropes of creativity and core-brand focus.
Lesson: Right now, building a sense of community was essential during the pandemic. Focus on messaging that brings people together, offer clear value, let your consumers know that you’re there for them, and you’re likely to win on the commercial battlefield.
Aberdeen's favourite purveyor of craft beer, BrewDog, took a proactive stance to the pandemic by using its resources to make its very own Punk Sanitiser.
Realising that hand sanitizer was becoming in short supply, the team at BrewDog set about making large batches and sending them to frontline services in the UK for free.
Speaking on its charitable initiative, BrewDog's founder James Wyatt, said:
"We are determined to do everything we can to try and help as many people as possible to stay safe."
To supplement the initiative, BrewDog offered regular updates through its blog while remaining active on Twitter and Instagram—activities that kept the brand connected to its audience while creating a real brand buzz throughout the pandemic.
This brilliant initiative was also adopted by other breweries and distilleries around the world, many of which were committed to serving their local communities.
Lesson: By offering direct value as well as a practical solution to a genuine problem and using your promotional channels to guide consumers to your messaging, you will build trust, authority, and loyalty even in uncertain times.
In today’s world, people expect brands to take action—and if you can do something to help, you should. You should shout about it too: tastefully, of course.
To pass the time in a productive, proactive way, the staff at Canada's Banff Springs Hotel launched a campaign called 'The Art of Waiting' early in the pandemic.
From dancing bellhops to singing chefs, this series of mini videos was simple yet entertaining and showcased the brand's fun-loving side while creating a sense of nostalgia that was bound to encourage droves of guest bookings once the doors reopened.
Lesson: Video content is a powerful marketing medium, and by keeping your messaging simple while sticking to your brand values, you can maintain a positive presence while driving healthy levels of social engagement.
To help its consumers maintain their fitness and personal morale during the crisis, sporting colossus Nike made its club training subscription free for a limited period of time—offering fans of the brand exclusive access to training, health, and fitness content.
In addition to its value-driven offering, in-app content, and inspirational brand messaging, Nike also extended its message of staying healthy during the virus to its podcast. As the pandemic endured, Nike maintained a strong sense of brand loyalty and its collective efforts also helped mitigate its dwindling sales in China.
Lesson: By taking the time to craft brand messaging that is direct and meaningful across a cohesive mix of channels, you can boost your brand authority through thick and thin. An omnichannel marketing approach is the way to go.
To encourage families to stay at home and help to flatten the curve during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, Lego created an animated video urging kids to be superheroes while offering suggestions on what to do to stay safe.
By speaking directly to children and empowering them with a positive role in the crisis, Lego forged a real connection with its target demographic while offering genuine value with educational tips and resources on playing well at home. These STEM and STEAM-based initiatives were geared towards inspiring families across the globe to get creative during the pandemic.
The campaign’s inclusive messaging and content-driven direction offered audiences the perfect storm of engagement and educational value, which resulted in record sales during the pandemic.
Lesson: By considering the value your product or service can offer consumers in this brave new world and creating content to help people engage with your brand on a deeper, more meaningful level, you will be able to remain afloat in the short-term and thrive in the long-term.
“There's a way to do it better – find it.” Thomas A. Edison
These five inspiring Covid-19 marketing campaigns prove that by staying true to your values, using your existing resources to offer practical solutions to pressing pain points, and maintaining a positive brand presence, you can prevail.
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