Who would have thought that Steak-umm, the brand of frozen processed meats, would become a “voice of reason in the pandemic” (Fast Company). The article highlights some of the Steak-umm brand posts that encourage media literacy and for people to pay attention to the science behind the pandemic. The brand’s simple, honest posts got it positive press. Not sure how it fits with the brand, but perhaps “all press is good press.”
A few weeks ago we posted on a couple of articles discussing the question about how to advertise in a pandemic. This week, I thought I would share some favorite advertising that directly addresses the pandemic. It is amazing how quickly some brands (and their agencies) have created powerful ads in a short time.
Check out these ads (links to a YouTube video of the ad you can watch and show your students):
- McDonald’s: Unskippable Ad is a handwashing reminder that runs pre-roll (before online video). While such ads are usually skippable after 5 seconds, this one cannot be skipped. It was part of a McDonald’s Russia campaign “We are for safety. With both hands.” The ad educates while also letting everyone know that McDonald’s is a safe option.
- The Ohio Department of Health created “Flatten the Curve” to educate Ohioans (and others) the theory behind social distancing. A great example of how a short video can communicate a great deal. It is also a nice example of Marketing for a Better World (#M4BW). This simple video communicates a lot.
- Nike: Play for the World, You Can’t Stop Us shows Nike athletes and everyday people who are still playing — though now indoors. Nike has long used its advertising to encourage us to “Just do it” or get out and play. This ad fits the times.
- Dove has long been a leader (that link shows they have been doing it for more than 15 years!) in re-defining beauty. In a pandemic, they show some “beautiful” front-line healthcare workers in “Courage is Beautiful.” Great fit with its image. Authentic. But maybe uplifting for some of our students who are struggling with the current situation.
This might be an interesting discussion to have in your marketing class — it is certainly timely. Here are a couple of short articles (4 minute and 7 minute reads) recently published by Fast Company that try to explain how some brands are approaching this moment–and how they are communicating with customers.
In “Why every brand you’ve ever bought something from is sending you coronavirus emails” (March 20, 2020) you can read what some brands are writing to their customers. The article notes three types of emails. Some are helpful, letting you know how its service might be changing because of the virus. The second type is the “brand friend” that maybe tries to reach out with the “we’re all in this together” type of communication. Finally, the last type is more random and makes you wonder why it was sent out. The article goes on to discuss the right way to send emails. I think you can tie this into Chapter 13’s promotion objectives and perhaps link it to a discussion of ethical communication. You might also want to talk about how to use different media (social media, email, advertising) and what might be the advantages and disadvantages of each. With brand managers struggling with this issue, it might be an interesting exercise getting your students critically thinking about it as well.
In the second article,”‘We’re all in this together’? Why brands have so little to say in the pandemic,“(March 30, 2020), the same author as the article above provides a similar categorization of advertising. With links to some of the ads, it might make an interesting topic to discuss — and then to show some of the better (and worse) examples. Nice tie to Chapter 15.
Patagonia lives by its strong environmentalist values. Now it has produced a new short (23 minutes) film, “that outlines the fight undertaken by the Communities for a Better Environment group as it lobbies city council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to establish a 2,500-foot distance between oil drilling operations and Wilmington’s schools, hospitals, and churches.” (Fast Company, February 27, 2020) The film differs from many of Patagonia’s typical outdoor images — as this one focuses on the challenge to a community in Los Angeles that is home to 479 oil wells. It might be interesting to watch or assign the film to your students and ask them why Patagonia does this? If you know Patagonia, and watched some of its previous promotional efforts, the answer is not immediately obvious. They really do it because they support the environment and they believe this is the right thing to do. It does burnish their brand and it is authentic, too.
We all know that consumers can more easily ignore advertising. So how do advertisers sneak past our defenses. One way may be to disguise the advertising as “art” — maybe a short story movie. Of course advertising has been doing this for years–think of all those Bud Light Super Bowl commercials (we discuss them in our What’s Next box in Chapter 13). This article from the New York Times, and the video below describe how far we have come along that path. The ad below also shows how a firm might target a niche group.