What’s the right messaging amid the coronavirus outbreak?
“If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.”
That advertising campaign embracing the importance of social distancing came out Saturday from Nike and promotes that brand’s workout app, Nike Training Club, that is now accessible free of charge amid the crisis.
The campaign appeared to strike the right tone and received wide positive coverage across the media. Many recent efforts, however, have been suspended or scrapped.
Hershey pulled an ad showing people giving handshakes and hugs after receiving chocolate bars as gifts. A light-hearted March Madness campaign touting Coors Light as the “Official Beer of Working Remotely” was canceled by March 11 as more people began self-quarantining.
In Brazil, a McDonald’s campaign that separated its two arches to encourage social distancing has earned mixed reactions. The motto: “Separated for a moment so that we can always be together.”
In a March 11 blog post on messaging during crises, Alex Josephson, global head of Twitter Next, and Eimear Lambe, director of Twitter Next, stressed the importance of recognizing changing consumer behaviors, including spikes in video streaming and online purchases. They also urged marketers to be thoughtful about voice tone, to employ up-to-date messaging and to know your brand.
The two wrote, “It’s about understanding the unique role your brand plays in people’s lives, how that has changed, and how your brand can help or be useful during this crisis. It’s also about looking for opportunities to lead by example, and do the right thing, where it makes sense for your business.”
On his company’s second-quarter conference call on March 18, General Mills chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening suggested ads not talk about “stocking up.”
In his own opinion, “with very little data to back it up,” Mr. Harmening said standard advertising was important.
“I think it also can connote a sense of normalcy for people as their lives are anything but normal in many parts of the world,” he said. “And so, for us, we think we have a responsibility to do that, whether it’s delivering our products or whether it’s advertising Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”
- Nike releases new campaign to promote social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic – USA Today
- Nike Encourages People To ‘Play Inside’ To ‘Play For The World’ – Advertising Age
- General Mills Boosts Marketing Spending, Pushes For Appropriate Messages During Covid-19 – Advertising Age
- General Mills Inc (GIS) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Brand communications in times of crisis – Twitter
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have about appropriate messages from brands and retailers during the COVID-19 crisis? Should brands play it safe until the worst of the outbreak has passed?