As the world struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19, brand promotion doesn’t seem like the best move for any company. Most ad agencies agree that trying to advertise during these times is a difficult balance. In a phone interview with CNBC, Ian Henderson, chief executive of ad agency AML Group, said, “There’s a very fine line between being helpful and flogging stuff on the back of a crisis”.

Examples of brands using their marketing to share helpful information have been few and far between. Most brands have also avoided addressing the crisis or mention anything remotely close to the topic of COVID-19. Even companies that are directly impacted by the outbreak such as those in the travel sector, have refrained from addressing the issue directly in their campaigns.

During this period of uncertainty when consumer behaviour is unpredictable, marketers often ask themselves, “ How can we as marketing professionals be more helpful to our customers through these trying times?”

Marketing in times of crisis is not easy. Several brands have been doing their best to make things work during this period. In this article, we share 4 successful examples of brands who shifted their business-as-usual mindsets to lead in times of uncertainty.

Read on to find out how these brands balanced creativity with crisis management, and also demonstrated how marketing is all about knowing your company’s core value and using them to your advantage.

4 Brands That Exercised Creativity In Their Marketing Amid COVID-19

1. Lush invites people to wash their hands in their stores 

Lush, the popular cosmetic retailer from the United Kingdom, is inviting the UK public into their stores to wash their hands for free. The initiative is launched across all their stores in the UK, amid the UK government’s push for better basic hygiene practices in the country. The aim is to educate the public and to minimize the spread of the virus.

Any customer who enters the store to have their hands washed will be given soap to use and are under no obligation to buy anything.

Constantine, a representative of Lush, shared that companies should turn crisis into opportunity, and use this period to initiate public service campaigns. These campaigns would have the objective to help highlight the role of basic hygiene in minimising the spread of viruses. “If people just get in the habit of washing their hands properly, it will make a dramatic difference to public health.”

2. Nike’s “Play Inside, Play For The World” campaign

Nike’s latest campaign, “Play Inside, Play For The World” is a public call for everyone to do their part by staying home. With a clever twist on its message, Nike successfully highlighted it’s brand purpose while still inspiring people through the power of sports.

Nike’s Play Inside Play For The World Video Campaign

Many Nike athletes, including Cristiano Ronaldo, supported the campaign by sharing Nike’s campaign slogan on their social media.

3. At-Sunrice’s #standupandwashup campaign

Using their expertise as one of the leading culinary schools in Singapore, At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy launched the #standupandwashup campaign. It is a public service campaign that aims to raise public awareness on the proper handwashing technique.

The campaign gathered some of Singapore’s top chefs together in a series of 11 videos in 6 languages, to demonstrate the best handwashing methods, and provide tips on proper food handling practices. The chefs featured include familiar names such as Sebastien Lepinoy of 3 Michelin-star Les Amis and Chan Hon Meng of Michelin-starred hawker stall Hawker Chan.

StandUp & WashUp with Chef Emmanuel (Restaurant Saint Pierre)

Note: We are proud to be the official digital marketing partner for this meaningful campaign and we hope everyone continues to do their part in being socially responsible by adopting better hygiene practices.

4. Netflix “Spoiler” campaign

Created by a group of talented students from Miami Ad School, the “spoiler campaign” is a series of out-of-home advertisements that showed spoilers from some of Netflix’s popular drama series. The campaign’s purpose was to encourage people to stay home, so they can avoid seeing the spoilers when they are out in public.

While this isn’t an actual ad campaign affiliated with Netflix, the “spoiler” campaign has been widely praised for its creativity that injected some fun into the message of asking people to stay home.

What Can We Learn From These Brands?

These brands have demonstrated how to market to their target audience within the context that is relevant to the current crisis. They refocused the way they promoted themselves and provided value-add content, be it as a PSA format (Nike promoting people to stay home) or Lush’s public service campaign to educate the public on better handwashing practices. Going back to basics, these brands remembered to provide value in their marketing response to COVID-19.

Just like these 4 brands, what your business can do is to be sensitive about the ongoing situation. This is not business as usual. Acknowledge the new reality. Give your customers updates about your operations and reinforce the message that you’re here to help. You should also focus on cost-effective digital channels such as marketing automation which can help you share and convey your messages.

Most of your customers are also spending more time at home now, which means there are greater opportunities for them to see the content you put online. Use this period to educate your customers and provide content that can add value. This can be in the form of simple videos and actionable guides. This will allow you to engage your existing customers and potentially grow your audience. For example, our agency strives to add value via educational online webinars as well as free website audits to help other businesses during this critical period.

For example, our agency strives to add value via educational online webinars as well as free website audits to help other businesses during this critical period.

Wrapping Up

If you’re a company that needs help with your marketing campaign or you’re in need of digital marketing advise, feel free to contact us.

If you’re looking at ways to motivate your remote teams in this period, you should refer to our guide on how you can motivate your employees who are working from home

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