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Brand promotion does not seem like the best move during the coronavirus crisis. However, other businesses braved the pandemic and launched inspiring COVID-19 ad campaigns—and the results are fantastic.

While most ad agencies agree that trying to advertise during these times is difficult, some brands turned the crisis into an opportunity.

Instead of avoiding to address the outbreak or stay away from the topic entirely, these companies decided to create a balance of creativity and crisis management.

Keep on reading to find out who these brands are, how they used the circumstances presented by pandemic to their advantage, and what marketing lessons we can learn from them.

4 Brands That Exercised Creativity Amid COVID-19

1. Lush’s In-store Free Handwashing

Lush, the popular cosmetic retailer from the United Kingdom, invited the UK public into their stores to wash their hands for free.

The initiative was launched in all their stores in the UK, during the government’s push for better basic hygiene practices in the country. This campaign aims to educate the public and to minimise the spread of the virus.

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

Mark Constantine, a representative of Lush, shared that companies should turn the crisis into opportunity and use this period to initiate public service campaigns.

“If people just get in the habit of washing their hands properly, it will make a dramatic difference to public health,” said Constantine.

Brands should highlight the role of basic hygiene in minimizing the spread of viruses.

Marketing Lesson: Offer a free trial of products

Lucky for Lush, they sell products that people can use to combat the virus. It is their huge edge over companies from different industries.

By offering a free trial of their soaps, Lush can sway store visitors to purchase a single item or more.

This is a great tactic that never gets old. When people fall in love with a product on their first try, they will spend bucks on it no matter how expensive it is.

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

The pandemic has robbed joggers and athletes of their daily routine. To help, Nike developed something that allowed fitness enthusiasts to relate to its advertisement.

Despite store closures of the leading sports brand apparel last March, Nike inspired people through the power of sports.

Nike launched its “Play Inside, Play for the World” campaign, which urged everyone to play inside their home. The campaign was a public call for everyone to do their part by staying home.

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.

Cristiano included the #PlayInside and #PlayfortheWorld hashtags in his social media posts, and people started to follow the lead.

Marketing Lesson: Use hashtags to good effect

Nike got its marketing right this pandemic because of its engaging Play for the World campaign, not to mention that it also makes a relatable hashtag.

This teaches marketers to use relevant hashtags in their campaigns. Brands should use hashtags that fit their businesses to grow engagement, improve searchability, and increase outreach.

3. At-Sunrice’s #standupandwashup campaign

At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, a leading culinary school in Singapore, also launched a coronavirus-related campaign called #standupwashup.

StandUp and WashUp is one of those COVID-19 ad campaigns that boldly addressed the crisis.

The Singaporean culinary school gathered 9 Michelin Star Chefs in a series of 11 videos. Each Michelin Star chef demonstrated the best hand washing methods and provided tips on proper food handling practices in their own language.

Among the chefs featured include familiar names such as Chef Sebastien Lepinoy of Les Amis, Chef Chan Hon Meng of Hawker Chan, and Chef Sun Kim of Meta.

StandUp & WashUp with Chef Emmanuel (Restaurant Saint Pierre)

Marketing Lesson: Partner with familiar, credible personalities

At-Sunrice tapped celebrity chefs to help spread valuable information faster than the virus. Since these chefs are experts in their field, it would be easier to get people’s attention and spread the brand’s message.

Collaborating with popular names (i.e. celebrities, social media influencers, etc.) in the industry not only allows brands to connect with their target audience but also lets them boost their brand exposure.

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. Brave’s Netflix “Spoiler” campaign

Some countries had trouble containing the virus and convincing the public to stay in the comfort of their homes.

That is the exact reason why Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo, known as Brave, came up with the Netflix “Spoiler” campaign.

Unlike other COVID-19 ad campaigns, Brave’s campaign did not highlight any tips to spread the virus. Instead, the pair communicated other dangers of going out during the pandemic—spoiling their favourite Netflix series.

While the ad campaign is not affiliated with Netflix, the spoilers seen in the billboards are real. The Netflix shows that are spoiled to the public are Money Heist, Narcos, Love is Blind, and Stranger Things.

Marketing Lesson: Inject creativity in campaigns

These Netflix spoiler ads prove that creativity grabs audience attention. Although not officially from Netflix, the ad has gone viral because of its unique approach to encouraging the public to stay at home.

Businesses should adopt the idea of injecting creativity into their campaigns. Creativity is like a driving force that enables brands to stand out from the crowd and capture more eyeballs. Plus, it is an essential ingredient of every memorable marketing campaigns.

Other Lessons We Learn From These Brands

Apart from marketing to their target audience amid the COVID-19 crisis, these brands also taught businesses to take advantage of the current global situation.

The pandemic offers companies the opportunity to create deeper connections with their audiences. Now is the time for your company to give your customers updates about your operations and reinforce the message that you are ready to help.

Since most of your customers are now spending more time at home, it is also ideal to create more insightful content online, including webinars, how-to-videos, actionable guides, and so on.

Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

Marketing in times of crisis is not easy, but it is possible. Instead of seeing the coronavirus outbreak as a parasite that sucks up your sales, see it as an opportunity to better connect with your employees and customers.

Acknowledge the new normal and find ways to stay relevant during the pandemic. For example, our agency offers educational webinars, and free website audits to help other businesses in this critical period.

So if your company needs help with your marketing campaign or in need of digital marketing advice, feel free to contact us. Learn more about our host of services here

Back to School!

Daniel was invited to give a guest lecture to a group of communications students at Singapore Management University (SMU) on content marketing. During the lecture, Daniel shared his expertise on the importance of communications and brand storytelling.

Additionally, he shared the trends shaping the marketing industry and gave tips on what makes a compelling story in the eyes of clients and businesses.

He also highlighted that content marketing is an essential part of any marketing strategy. It is an affordable way to maximize their online visibility, create authority and build trust between a business and its customers.

The difference between advertising and content marketing

How content marketing works to create impact for businesses

Daniel went on to add that marketers have to understand consumers and craft content that engages their audience. Quality content helps a brand to introduce its products and services as a solution, to steer customers into the sales funnel.

When a brand successfully creates content that engages and value adds to their audience, the brand will encourage conversions. That is because the brand’s content over-delivered by providing useful information to educate their leads. This will help them stay informed to make a purchase decision better.

Furthermore, the benefit of creating content online is that a marketer can plan their content with keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO). Marketers can also measure the results of his or her content’s reach. From brainstorming and researching to knowing who has read your content, everything can be measured online. As such, content marketing is a necessary and critical strategy for any brand to connect with its audience and increase conversions.

If you would like to learn more about content marketing, click here.

Daniel sharing what makes os considered successful content marketing, and gave tips for content strategies that actually create impact for businesses.
Daniel and his engaged class of communications students at SMU

Bridging the gap between knowledge learned in the classroom and the real world

After sharing the blueprint for a successful content strategy, Daniel led a Q&A session with the students. Mark Chong, Associate Professor of Corporate Communication (Practice) teaching the class, went on to emphasize the value of what Daniel had shared with the class. He stated that the insights given by Daniel during the class will help to bridge the gap between the knowledge learned in the class and the workings of the real world.

We are glad to have helped the students learn some tips and tricks of effective content marketing. At 2Stallions, one of our core values is to learn continuously and we are heartened to see this spirit in a class of young aspiring students as well.

Kudos to the participative students that contributed to an interactive discussion during the lecture!

Daniel answers questions about content marketing.
Daniel ends the lecture with a Q&A session and calls for interns

The lecture ended off with a call for interns with 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency.

If you’re currently an undergraduate and looking for an internship opportunity this summer, you may write in to our HR team here with your resume and internship availability period. 

As children, our parents used storytelling to put some colour on simple life lessons. As a result, we remembered these lessons well and kept them in our hearts and mind.

Content marketing professionals also use storytelling to bring life to a brand and consider it as one of the main components of a content marketing approach.

Often, they tell stories focused on a company’s rise as a prominent industry icon and what motivates it to pursue its goals. Brand stories will allow your target audience to see you as an actual organization of people rather than a boring corporate figure. They prefer connecting with humans who are why brand storytelling is the yellow brick road for marketers.

Creating a good brand story requires a more emotional approach. Don’t make it solely about your company; go personal and beyond mere publicity. Here are the five must do’s for a great brand story.

1. Make It Personal

The most amazing stories in the world are uplifting, exciting, and even terrifying, if all the details in the story are condensed into a human struggle.

One great example of making it personal is Nike’s “Equality” Campaign. It features a 90-second commercial starring LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Victor Cruz, Dalilah Muhammad, and others sharing a strong personal stance on equality.

 

Image by: Youtube/Nike

A behind-the-scenes video was also released to show what equality means for them. LeBron James said, “At the end of the day, we’re always just trying to find a way that we can all feel equal, we can all be equal, have the same rights, have the same feelings, being able to be in the same place no matter the color.”

A storytelling campaign should focus on the person, not on selling the product or service. A personal story can be a consumer’s positive experience using the product or service.

2. Create Relatable Characters

Characters act and respond, making them the force that drives the narrative. Making audiences empathize with his or her struggles makes the story more compelling and memorable, and can coincide with the reasoning of a particular target market.

Jollibee’s 2017 Valentines Ad Campaign did this, plus more. The Filipino fast food chain released a series of video each telling a different story that put viewers into a whirlwind of relatable emotions all ending with the conclusion that love comes in many forms.

Image by: Youtube/Jollibee Philippines

One of the videos titled “Vow,” tells the story of a guy who met “the one” in one of the Jollibee branches he frequents. He and the girl spent plenty of time together and fell madly in love. He vowed to make her happy no matter what it takes. However, there was a heartbreaking twist at the end. The video instantly became viral and currently has more than 15 million views.

The whole ad series raked more than 30 million views on Facebook and the fast-food chain’s burger sales quadrupled after the ads were released.

The brand became more trustworthy because the values the character exhibited guarantee the quality of the products or services the business offers.

3. Be Honest

Stories become famous because they are unique or tell a story that mirrors that of their audience. However, going for a fresh story that could be exaggerated can be entertaining, but it will lack the strong emotions that make brand storytelling inspiring and memorable.

Another way to introduce honesty is not to take the brand too seriously. Self-deprecation, if it suits the brand, is helpful because it is entertaining and funny to audiences. It also helps introduce a casual and approachable identity. Adweek listed Apple’s 2007 “Stuffed” advertisement for being a hilarious but concise way to promote their new product, and it still does its job.

Image by: Youtube/Digital Hytop

The ad was built on two funny archetypal characters (Justin Long as the Mac and John Hodgman as the PC) where the bumbling PC always complain to Mac about being slowed down by so many pre-installed trials.

Showing the positive and negative aspects of a specific character makes them human and removes the “super” quality that makes them just a simple protagonist or inspiring figure. And in the case of Apple, they did it in a very funny and memorable way.

4. Make a Flowing Story

In an advertising video’s 30 seconds, brands can tell their stories in chapters as long as they introduce an amazing narrative with characters that audiences can empathize and care for.

The best way to do this is to use the three-part scenario of most storylines: the beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning shows the characters and introduces them and their current predicaments. In this scenario, building up the character’s appeal and the audience’s empathy for them is important.

In the next scene, problems arise. Here’s why this section is special: brands can promote their products or services as a solution to resolve the character’s conflict. If the story is compelling enough, audiences will look past the product and just want to see the resolution.

The last scene will show whether the character’s efforts in the middle had worked out with the help of the product or service. In the resolution, brands can inject emotion and an exceptional resolution that will encourage audiences to share the story over and over again to others who may be interested.

Image by: Youtube/tigerbeer

Just take a look at Tiger Beer’s “3890 Project.” The main character of the campaign are the tigers left in the wild, which is estimated to be just a measly 3,890. Together with WWF and six street artists, the Asian beer brand made 6 documentaries exposing the illegal tiger trade and what people can do to help.

5. Tease Your Audience

Teasing is a great way to gain attention; if you’ve ever watched your favourite series, the last scene in the episode is another problem that needs to be solved in the consequent episode. This is a “page-turning” device in novel or story writing.

Hooked audiences will want to know more about the events in the next part of the story. In advertisements, stories can use a narrative technique: foreshadowing, which shows an event that will be clarified in the middle or the last scene.

Image by: Youtube/DBS

DBS actually made a mini-drama series on their website with each episode ending in a cliff hanger. The first 3 episodes garnered more than 12 million views and 510,000 engagements according to reports. Each episode has successfully reinvented the brand into a company that will go above and beyond for each customer.

Connecting Through Stories

In a world of fast-paced competition, companies lose their appeal to who matters most: their customers. Connecting with customers in a personal, human way helps them remove the stigma of an “official” or “big company,” and it helps them show that they understand and empathize with the struggles of their audiences.

Television advertisements in the past have done so well to elicit emotions and empathy from consumers. Today, the Internet still uses video to tell stories that inspire, entertain, or make audiences laugh and push forward their business’ personality as something akin to the advertisements. If you are not sure which emotions to focus on, the Harvard Business Review has a great article on the emotions that drive straight into any audiences’ heart.

However, certain target markets like to read up on solutions. Blogs are a great answer to these audiences. Social media is also a great network to incorporate narratives. By using all these mediums together, a solid brand storytelling campaign can guarantee great results.

*First published in “The Singapore Marketer

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