Top brands dealing with the pandemic – Part 1

With COVID throwing the world into an economic crisis it’s easy to see why some brands are solely focused on protecting the profit line.

However, the way that you position your brand in these difficult times can make all the difference to its survival. It’s important to note that how your brand chooses to respond now will be remembered for years to come, so getting it right is crucial.

Due to our newly uncertain existence, the demand for brand authenticity is at an all-time high and both large and small brands are quickly learning that talk is cheap. Shallow brand positioning will no longer persuade your audience that “you care”.

Customers will only believe a brand cares when they see genuine actions creating a positive impact. However, that’s where it’s easy to fall into the trap of promoting yourself and your importance, which is off-putting and out of touch, to say the least.

As you might have twigged – getting your brand positioning right during and after a pandemic is no easy task. So, we’ve collated the top six examples of brands doing it right.

1. ‘What’s for Tea’ – Co-op

Co-op’s latest campaign “What’s for tea” is a refreshing example of how to shout about your brand’s good deeds without cheapening them.

The campaign highlights the increasing issue of food insecurity during COVID using the undeniable human truth, that for children, food is always on the brain. The advert features children annoying their parents with the three little words “what’s for tea?” which not only amuses audiences but makes them consider the many children who will ask and not receive.

This is underpinned by the five million meals Co-op has donated to families in need and their 20p charity donation per picnic product sold; this brings warmth and humanity to the brand. They are not only bringing awareness to an important issue but also actively working to combat it.

2. “KFC is back!” – KFC

As people were urged to pay increased attention to hygiene, KFC decided to suspend their unfortunately timed ‘It’s good’ campaign, which featured people licking their hands and sucking their fingers in a nod to the brand’s famous slogan “It’s finger-lickin’ good’.

Although it’s important to maintain your brand’s positioning and unique tone of voice, it’s arguably more important to consider how you align within the current context of the environment. KFC’s choice to remove any mention of “finger-lickin’” from its advertising during COVID is a brilliant example of how brands can play safe to customer sensitivities and still gain a tonne of PR.

However, this doesn’t mean brands should shy away from having fun with their advertising.

After KFC had been closed for lockdown, they released the humorous advert ‘KFC is back!” upon their reopening. The advert plays Celine Dion’s iconic ‘All by myself’ and features user-generated content showing peoples attempts at “home-made” KFC. Not only does this tap into the nation’s genuine love for KFC but it does so in an affordable way whilst avoiding issues with social distancing during production.

This kind of comedic relief gives people a sense of escapism from the doom and gloom, leaving them to celebrate the little wins, replenishing the nation’s morale.

3. “The Truth Is Essential” – The NewYork Times

During any time of crisis, you’ll find an abundance of miss-information and in an era of social media, it travels faster than ever. Depending on the topic, this can be harmless but during COVID it could truly be a matter of life or death.

This insight was an excellent foundation for The NewYork Times to further establish their brand positioning as a trustworthy, reliable news source.

The advert uses simplistic animated typography which allowed them to respond quickly in a lockdown-friendly way and be the first news branch to convey this hard-hitting message. By highlighting “We are safer when we are informed” The NewYork Times not only alleviates the audience’s fears but gives them the confidence to fact check and prevent the spread of misinformation.

Acting similarly to a public service announcement and preventing misinformation the NewYork Times brand identity is made more respectful and trustworthy, therefore helping sales.


Alison Mcgann – Art Director


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