The current COVID-19 global crisis is unprecedented and incomparable in terms of crisis communication. There perhaps has been no single global pandemic or crisis affecting virtually all countries, citizens and enterprises. All previous crises were limited to a company (e.g. Maggi, Cadbury’s) or a category at best. In company-specific issues, they addressed product concerns on time (recalling, for example) and most importantly did not stop communicating. They communicated to give reassurance (e.g Amitabh Bachchan and Cadburys) or keep alive the relationship and the trust evoked by a heritage brand (‘Miss you Maggi’).
In the current crisis, my view is that brands should not blindly communicate just to express solidarity. Consumers don’t need their coffee brand to give reassurance about COVID-19. However, if there is relevance and can help in educating consumers (e.g. hand wash, health insurance) they can communicate in a sensitive manner. There are categories which have some peripheral association with one aspect of the crisis. For example, urging people to stay home or maintain social distancing makes sense for a handful of categories. Here too, brands should avoid stunts (which people can clearly see through) and where possible demonstrate through meaningful, relevant action. If they restrict themselves to brand communication, there should be some relevance to the message and the product category. But for most brands & categories, staying away from any association – and not see it as an opportunity, with the crisis makes sense. This past week, a few brands created clutter-breaking creatives reiterating the need to stay at home or saluting those who do.
Nike: Play for the World
What I liked about this initiative from Nike is that it wasn’t limited to just a communication. The company is engaged in local community activities in the US and also manufacturing PPE for first responders. In that context, when the brand urges to ‘play inside and play for the world’ its that much more credible. The use of sports celebrities and the consistency of brand messaging is also commendable.
Asian Paints: Stay home, stay safe
Those in India would be familiar with the ‘Har ghar kuch kehta hai‘ (roughly translated as ‘each home tells a story’) campaign from Asian Paints. The emotional pitch accentuated with the distinct voice of ad man Piyush Pandey was a big hit a few years ago. The brand has revived that message with home videos of people’s activities during the lockdown. The tinny, home-recorded feeling of the voice over adds to the authenticity.
Women’s Aid: The lockdown
Burger King: Couch Potatriot
What’s interesting about this campaign is the use of humour in these sombre times and the fact that the ad was made from footage created for another project. It is a salute of sorts to couch potatoes staying indoors and following social distancing while ordering Whoppers from the Burger King app.
SET India: family
Sony Entertainment Television has created a short film urging all to stay at home through a quirky story. The film was shot entirely indoors and is likely to appeal to a wider audience in India as it features popular film stars from across the country.
Director: Prasoon Pandey
New York City: NY Tough
The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo lends his voice to a stirring film which furthers the belief that New Yorkers are tough. It also stands from the clutter of ‘we are in this together’ kind of relatively soft messages.
IKEA: Stay Home catalog
My favourite of the week is from Israel where IKEA has created these activity sheets, helping families spend time together in solving these puzzles and activities such as painting. It also sits in well with the category and the brand. Loved it.
Agency: McCann, Tel Aviv
Update: here are a few creative ideas which I could not add before I hit the publish button:
Apple: creativity goes on
Many brands have made commercials using a montage of shots of home activity. In some cases the link to the brand has been tenuous. Apple’s products – be it the Macbook or the iPhone & iPad have been associated with creativity for years. A new film from Apple showcases a variety of Apple users indulging in creative activities at home.
We have always believed deeply in the power of creativity. Now, more than ever, we’re inspired by people in every corner of the world finding new ways to share their creativity, ingenuity, humanity and hope.Apple
Aside from a TV commercial, Apple has designed creative activities for kids.
In many Apple Stores across the world ‘Today at Apple’ sessions offer tips & tricks to users. A digital version of Today at Apple is now live with sessions where you can learn how to draw playful portraits on iPad, capture striking photography with iPhone and shoot photos full of personality.
Uber: move what matters
Just as automobile brands, Uber too has a direct impact of lockdowns. They have put out a PSA asking people not to ‘move’.
Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.