How to market your brand under lockdown

Which brands are getting their marketing right, and what can we learn?

Cinemas are closed. Billboards have become obsolete. Many print publications have suspended. The news agenda and news programming are (rightly) focussing on the pandemic.

Is it morally right to communicate your brand right now? If your business still offers a product or service, then is it possible to market it effectively right now?

With insight from Kantar, the data, insights and consulting company, let’s consider these questions, take a look at some of the brands who got it right and what we can learn from them.

Should I put my marketing activity on hold during a time of crisis?

If you can afford to, it is worth maintaining some level of activity but do find ways to shift activity to align with where your audiences are now.

Consider splitting your campaign activity into phases, tighten up and enhance activity on owned channels (Website, podcasts, Apps etc).

Campaigns that feature across multiple channels achieve an increased ROI of 57%. (Source: Kantar Global Cross Media Studies 2015-17)

Campaigns using omni-channel marketing will do better than those who don't

Is advertising inappropriate during a time of crisis?

Brands can ‘go dark’ for six months without a negative effect but this assumes that the supply of product is still available.

However, only 8% of people believe companies should stop advertising in a time of crisis. (Source: Kantar COVID-19 barometer March 14th – 23rd 2020)

People said that they still enjoy creative advertising and consumer attitude towards adverts hasn’t really changed as people ‘welcome distraction and sense of normalcy’.

But do exercise caution.

Ok, so what type of content is suitable?

Categories that aren’t relevant now or that contravene the ‘Stay at home guidelines’ are deemed inappropriate.

75%* feel brands should not exploit a crisis situation to promote themselves (*this number rose to 82% for people based in the UK).

40% said brands should avoid using humour in advertising during a time of crisis. However, if your audience is in New Zealand and Australia, they do want to see humour.

With limited staff and reduced budgets, now is an ideal time to consider repurposing existing content. ‘Ad wear’ is quite rare and will make sure that messaging is still aligned to your brand.

So, which brands have managed to pitch their messaging right at this time and what can we learn from them?

Tesco TV Advertising: Some little helps for safer shopping

98% of people felt this advert is appropriate. The content drives infinity toward the brand and includes appropriate messaging right now.

Aldi TV Advertising: We’re in it together

98% of people felt this advert is appropriate. The inclusion of Kevin the Carrot adds a light-hearted touch that doesn’t detract from the message. It looks like Aldi was able to use existing content to create the video which is perfect when more complex video shoots are out of the question.

Facebook Advertising: Sky Skanner

75% of people felt this advert is appropriate. Customers described it as ‘beautiful, ‘makes you feel positive’ and ‘sensitive’.

Others weren’t so keen… ‘We can’t f@#!£$g fly anywhere so what even is the point of a flight comparison website right now?’.

Yorkshire Tea Social Campaign: Pimp Your Video Calls

A brand that is well-known for tongue in cheek campaigns has now launched downloadable backgrounds for Zoom video calls. The backgrounds are downloadable on Facebook for tea-lovers (like me) working at home.

Popular tea brand Yorkshire Tea created downloadable Zoom backgrounds to promote their brand

There’s no formal customer feedback data on this one as it’s too recent. There’s no hard sell, just a great example of a brand helping bring a little escapism during difficult times. I think this is spot on. Well done Yorkshire Tea.

What can we learn from this?

Positioning and tone in your messaging is key to success. Here are my top tips:

Purpose – Do something that genuinely makes a difference to people’s lives and fits your brand

Pride – Communicate with pride, but also with humility and sensitively

Plan – market test your content to make sure it is successful before going live with a campaign

If you’re looking for some consultancy or an informal chat about your future marketing and PR strategy, why not say

Written by
Kevin Cooke
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