Although it feels as though everything is going slightly back to normal, we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. I work for a media agency and back in March, the thought of advertising was unspeakable for brands. Everyone has been forced to adjust to this new way of life and strategies for brands have completely shifted.
Some brands really reacted quickly and got it so right. Finding the perfect balance between not taking advantage of the situation but at the same time not being too afraid to talk about it.
Most recently I have seen KFC has taken their famous slogan 'it's finger-licking good' and have blurred out the 'finger licking' part, so the slogan now just reads 'it's good, to adhere to the current rules surrounding COVID-19.
I personally thought this was genius. Such a simple concept but so brilliant. When a brand is so well known and has a slogan that everyone knows, changing it even slightly is really powerful and makes people notice.
Heineken also recently launched an ad campaign named 'Back to the bars'. I really enjoyed watching this. The ad was based on the normalisation of social distancing in bars. The ad showed people washing their hands, touching elbows, wearing masks, lack of seating to abide by the two-metre distancing.
What I enjoyed about this ad is that one, it didn't ignore the fact that COVID-19 is happening which I feel like a lot of advertisers have been ignoring. Two, it's light-hearted, in the sense that it's taken the technical scary aspect of the rules and made them normal, which they are. Cleverly, this ad plays on the aspect of the want for normality and socialisation whilst staying current. Overall a really great ad.
Iconically, McDonald's re-opened with the classic 'Return of the Mac'. They officially re-opened all stores in July after testing drive-thrus throughout May in certain locations. Back in March McDonalds Tweeted; 'I wonder what song you think we should reopen with 🤔' many of the responses were 'Return of the Mac'. And that's exactly what they did.
McDonald's is so established and well known, there was already a large amount of hype around the fast-food chain returning. The ad its self is a clever play on their name, as well as one their most popular burgers the 'Big Mac'. The ad shows the sheer excitement of their McDonalds order arriving. Overall it is simple, but pairing the song with the brand will always remain iconic.
Contrary to the brand's message, Uber used their advertising throughout the pandemic to encourage people not to use their services so that people that really need it can use it.
This was interesting because although it's advising people to stay away from the service, it shines Uber in a really positive light. The ad is heartfelt and shows people connecting throughout lockdown through technology and through windows. Overall, the ad reflects the brand really well. Sometimes advertising doesn't necessarily have to be about the product you are selling but can instead be about the morals your brand portrays and developing your brand awareness.
From a personal perspective, I believe it is really important for brands to still advertise during COVID, for multiple reasons. One it's so important to keep up your brand awareness. With the previous lockdown and a potential second wave, meaning retailers may be forced to close again. If this happens you need to build a relationship with your customers and you need to get your name out there. Such as Uber did, show what your key values are, you don't have to strictly advertise what you sell. People want to buy into a brand, not just a product.
Interestingly throughout lockdown, I've frequently seen ads from online fashion retailers. Brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Miss Guided have benefitted from this pandemic massively, as extra disposable income has been spent online. According to Euro Stat, between February and June, the "internet sales volume in the EU increased by 17.4%".
On the opposite end of that is the sectors that have been affected the most, theatre, in particular, has taken a huge hit, with no clarity on when shows will be back, the arts are in a bit of trouble. With retailers, Topshop has taken a hard hit, having to let go a lot of their staff, as their online store is renowned for being a lot poorer performance-wise compared to their in-store.
So what have we learnt? Well firstly, the world is completely unpredictable and no one could have predicted the chaos that COVID has caused. You have to be able to adapt easily or your brand will take a hit, but it's important to not stay quiet during these times. Build on your brand awareness and do something meaningful and impactful to stay relevant.
Thanks for reading,
Just Being Meg