Further complicated by the onslaught of the coronavirus, these brands are responding to the crisis with thoughtful and creative campaigns that fundamentally challenge the way advertising operates from here on out.
With the world backed into a corner by the aggressive and alarming coronavirus crisis, debilitating among many things, multiple generations, seemingly insusceptible economies, and formidable modern-day industries, we are now recalibrating the very way we live. With luxuries and frivolities taking a backseat for the more imminent and important healthcare, the very lens that we look at life has taken a new sense of clarity. For many of us concerned with creatives, content, and communication, there has been a significant shift in the paradigms that we operate. Heavily hinged on capitalism and commerce, how does one even advertise when consumption beyond the non-essential?
In the face of the unprecedented pandemic, where the focus on survival has slowly stripped us of the inconsequential, brands across multiple platforms has careened out of perfectly planned content calendars and flexed an agility to respond to the new reality that has shocked us to submission. As we are continuously pushed further into the deep end of this uncharted territory in our collective histories, businesses and brands are now tasked with navigating the landscape by pivoting to a messaging that is both sympathetic and supportive to the pervading pandemic. In fact, a study by Ace Metrix says that 75% of consumers surveyed are expecting brands to step up and help out in the coronavirus crisis, further stressing that ads addressing the crisis should not just use words, but show it through explicit actions and exceptional storytelling.
More than just a concern, which the world pretty much shares, campaigns have to not only adapt, but it also has to be attuned to the pulse of the masses more than ever. So, instead of peddling their products, advertisers are now exercising their creativity to effectively get the message of humanity across, with their brands as mere vessels and not the usual focal point of these undertakings. Ranging from a consolidated effort to encourage people to wash their hands, stay at home, and practice social distancing, even going as far as rousing spirits to stand together and save lives, the spur of drastic changes in advertising has definitely been seen, heard, and ultimately felt over the past month.
If anything the pervading pandemic has not only exposed the inadequacies of our times, viciously biting at the feeble foundations every industry is built upon, it has also compelled us to seek a definitive change in the face of the tempestuous storm. With everyone keeping tabs on everything, cashing in and capitalizing on the crisis is subjected to microscopic scrutiny, because really, what good will it do when all the world is paying attention to is seeing this through on a day to day basis. Sure, sentiments are well and good, but now more than ever, but tangible and well-accounted efforts exponentially count for so much more in our quest to quell COVID-19.
On the account of the coronavirus crisis, the future of advertising has inadvertently begun. Channeling all efforts to address the voracious consumption of pertinent content by the public, we’ve scoured the internet for brands that are using their reach, and for some, their marketing budget, to step up, transforming their message from buy and sell to be well.
On local shores, beverage behemoth, Coca-Cola, has since appropriated P150 million pesos worth of advertising budget for the year in deference to coronavirus response and relief efforts. “Coca-Cola Philippines has decided that all commercial advertising of Coca-Cola and all our brands in the country will be put on hold, effective immediately,” Coca-Cola Philippines president and general manager Winn Everhart states in a release. “All our committed advertising space and budgets will be redirected towards supporting coronavirus relief and response efforts for the most affected communities.”
A bold move, which echoes a global initiative manifested in a branded PSA-type of advertisement on social distancing in Times Square. “Staying apart is the best way to stay united,” it read, with the letters of the brand space out to mimic the physical separation of our times. More than just a one-time thing, the brand has also adjusted its social media platforms to answer the call of the times. “Our Instagram is going to look a little different as we help amplify meaningful messages,” it writes of its efforts of making a difference.
“We may not be playing together, but we’ll keep moving forward—all 7.8 billion of us,” and so goes the recent post of Nike on its Instagram page. Visualized by an evocative slideshow of black and white stills and video showing various states of playing in living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, driveways, basements, and hallways whilst in quarantine, which is part of its bigger Play Inside campaign.
Taking us into the private spaces of athletes across the globe such as LeBron James, Ramla Ali, and Sara Hughes, as well as of other individuals, this initiative focuses on encouraging physical activity all while honoring a safe social distance. “Now more than ever, we are one team,” Nike reiterates, stirring patrons and the public that the dream of playing doesn’t stop, even in isolation.
Proving that no circumstance of distance will prove insurmountable for the good ‘ol cravings, Burger King France has given us the go-signal to recreate its world-famous flame-grilled Whopper from the safety of our homes, using approximated ingredients that are most likely already at your disposal. Rendered in a layout that easy on the eyes, all while giving that mandated nod to social distancing, it sure looks like Le Whopper de la Quarantaine might be on the menu tonight.
While not entirely borne from the brand’s advertising efforts, but rather from an online submission for Staying Inn, a digital pub founded where patrons can enjoy a glug or two from the safe space of self-isolation, the internet-popular entry of copywriter Luke O’Reilly has nonetheless charmed its way to the Instagram page of Guinness. In a brilliant stroke of art and copy, a minimal image of mostly negative black space mimicking the signature pint of Guinness captures your attention, where the foam was replace with a couch and the text “Stay At Home” punctuates the base. Fun and also functional, it serves its dual purpose of driving a point home, all while encouraging one to have a drink to appease the misery-drowned sensibilities.
Meanwhile on St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness committed to donating $500,000 through its Guinness Gives Back Fund to help communities affected by the coronavirus.
“Built through world wars and natural disasters…built for people,” and so goes the timely ad of motor company, Ford, in stirringly simplicity. One of the first to directly address the coronavirus crisis, Ford upholds its mission to lend a hand, offering that people affected by the pandemic who are leasing or have a loan with Ford credit may receive financial assistance through its support system.
It fortifies the same communication with another ad using old footage of the company, highlighting how it has built tanks and planes for wars in the past, even helping 150,000 customer with payment relief last year for those who survived fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
Okay, technically this isn’t a full-blown, rolled out ad, but it has made the rounds on the world wide web, so it counts for something.
When Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo, a creative duo known as Brave, of the Miami Ad School Europe in Hamburg, Germany, returned to Thailand, they were not only quick to notice how the life threatening perils of the pandemic wasn’t effectively communicated, but they were equally reflexive enough to draw up a spec ad on how to encourage people to #StayTheF***AtHome. “
“We decided to help by doing what we know best, coming up with creative ideas,” Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo says.
The result was a fake billboard campaign wherein public spaces where people usually gathered will be spoiled of their favorite Netflix shows. “Spoiler alert: Gathering spaces might contain the ending ofyour favorite series,” the mock up warns. “Because if the virus doesn’t stop you from going out, the spoilers will.” Potentially ruining the endings for such series such as Love Is Blind, Kingdom, Stranger Things, Narcos, and Money Heist, it reasons: “The best way to stop the spread of Covid-19 is to #staythefuckhome, but some people still think it’s okay to go out and chill, spoiling it for us all,” the spec ad reads. “So we took an extreme measure: we spoil their favourite Netflix shows.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but navigating the digital gathering space is challenging enough, what more the real one. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Ohio Department of Health
From the plain view, it doesn’t seem at all threatening: an assemblage of what appears to be Ping-Pong balls perched atop mouse traps lined up neatly and densely. Drummed by a soundtrack of ominous percussions, a lone Ping-Pong ball drops and disrupts the arrangement, setting the traps in motion, which in effect sends the rest of the balls in a chaos of motion. On the flip side, a similar set-up flashes onscreen, this time evenly spaced out in distance. In the same manner, a Ping-Pong ball bounces by without so much as causing a stir.
“Stop the spread, social distancing works,” the PSA sanctioned by the Ohio Department of Health illustrates. Efficient and effective, much like the viral video of match sticks explaining the same concept of how the coronavirus rapidly spreads. Unlike the TikTok videos that our very own Department of Health has taken to, this one is smart and straightforward, carefully taking into consideration the intelligence of its public. “A little space makes us all safer—together,” the ad closes, with a trail of lingering thought and consideration for social distance from its initial startling intent to flatten the damn curve.
From the reorienting of production to dynamic shifts in communication, everyone is doing their part to help alleviate and hopefully put an end to the coronavirus crisis. With every focus zeroed in on, Dove is going to the front lines of the pandemic, nudging at the very heart that is keeping the world alive. Taking to the front lines, the beauty and skincare brand has put together a campaign, aptly called: Courage Is Beautiful.
Flashing the faces of front liners whose weary and exhausted demeanor is only made more apparent by deep impressions of PPEs on their faces at the end of their harrowing shifts. Subtle but stirring, the ad is both authentic and impactful, perfectly encapsulating what it means for the worlds of marketing and advertising influence media consumed. “There was a feeling we got that courage is beautiful,” Alfredo Manfredi, executive vice president of the Global Dove brand, tells Ad Age. “We thought, Why not try to show people who were doing this and also ask people to join us to thank these people who are risking their lives?”
Apart from this moving campaign, Dove is also donating to Direct Relief to care for front-line healthcare workers, aside from already pledging $2.5 million worth of products to help those in need through Feeding America.