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COVID-19 pandemic has pushed brands and the whole world into uncertain territory. With so much uncertainty, brands have big questions lingering in front of them.

Should they even advertise at all? If they have to advertise –  what should they advertise and what should they avoid? Should brands play a role to fight the coronavirus?  Do consumers want brands to address the COVID-19 pandemic in their advertisements?

An Ipsos survey suggests that people do want to hear from brands.

This is a time when brands  are struggling to maintain connections with consumers to understand consumer behavior. Brands need to need to tread carefully without being stamped as an opportunistic or being identified as insensitive.

Brands should send out reassuring messages to reinforce an emotional connect with consumers that predominantly display empathy. Strong brands have taken a stand and shown their support, thereby creating a closer bond with their consumers.

Here are some excellent examples of brands that have positioned their messaging well during the COVID-19 crisis:

1. KIA- #RewindKia | Let’s all Just Rewind

Automaker KIA has come up with an interesting and innovative way to spread awareness about COVID-19 and social distancing norms. Kia launched a brand campaign called #RewindKia, where Kia came up with an idea to play the Carnival TVC video in a rewound manner. In the original video, Jim Sarbh, the lead character in the video, is seen going for a date in his Carnival.  

In the #RewindKia campaign, the video shows the advertisement being played from the last scene to the first scene – basically putting a stop on all the outdoor activities and sitting inside the house and maintaining social distancing.  

The message – viewers to stay put in their homes. KIA is delivering an important message that “Going back doesn’t mean we would never move ahead.” KIA is supporting consumers during these tough times by standing with them to look for the silver lining together.

“Practice #SocialDistancing the right way and rewind back to what keeps our spirits high.” – says KIA.

2. Budweiser | One Team

The brewing giant has come up with a brand campaign that can make many of us all choked up. The minute-long video “One Team” is heartfelt gratitude to sports and the everyday heroes of our lives.

The video, mostly black and white, starts with an empty stadium, empty seats, and empty roads. The video makes mention of all the people who have played a significant role – health care workers, the red cross workers, teachers, athletics, delivery men, sportsmen, musicians, police, and the quarantined people. This video has made sure to send a message that we are all one big team this season.

Not just that, in the video, Budweiser announces shifting sports investments towards helping the frontline heroes.

Budweiser’s main message is, “In uncertain times, there’s one thing that remains certain: we are#OneTeam. Let’s come together in support of the heroes on the front line of the health crisis.”

Budweiser has set a great example that even when there are no sports – it still continues to bring people together – like one big team!

3. Toyota – We Are Here For You

“You can trust us to be here for you” – An ad campaign released by the automaker and produced by Saatchi & Saatchi is a great attempt to reassure people that Toyota stands strong to support them during the testing COVID-19 times.

During a crisis such as a coronavirus, Toyota is one among the very few brands that have come out with an ad aimed at the new sensibilities.

The video, with a comfort tone, assures people that it will stand by its family. The commercial shifts from images showing landscapes to pictures of families helping each other with an intention to show that its family extends to all corners of the country and includes Toyota customers, company employees, Toyota dealerships and their employees, and American consumers.

 “Trust us to be here for you, as we remain committed to supporting our community. Count on us now. And in all the better days ahead,” – pledges Toyota through this ad campaign.

In hard times such as COVID-19, Toyota comes out strongly, showing that it is time to embrace its family, to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy.

4. Jack Daniel-With Love

In a classic brand campaign, Jack Daniel beautifully portrayed the way in which people across the globe are embracing social distancing and finding new ways to be in touch with each other.

The video is created by the creative agency partner, BBDO, by using the user-generated footage of real human interactions. In the video, you can see people locked inside their homes, yet playing chess using video chats. You can also see people are utilizing their cookware to play ping-pong, sliding glass door to play tic tac toe, neighbors sharing toasts of Jack Daniel’s through video chats, and zoom chats.

“Showcasing how our friends around the world are rallying and uniting together during these times was our goal,” said Matt Blevins, Jack Daniel’s Global Brand Director. “It was about capturing real moments that are helping folks find social connection, which is something Jack Daniel’s celebrates.”

Added Josh Gross, a co-chief creative officer of Energy BBDO: “We’ve all had to adapt to this new reality rapidly, and we discovered this magical thing where people are finding really creative and beautiful ways to stay connected during this time of social distancing.”

This ad is a heartwarming experience where it shows how humankind finds ways to keep in touch even during the most difficult times.

5. Facebook-We’re never lost if we can find each other

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Facebook has released a brand campaign that delivers a message that ‘We’re Never Lost if we Can Find Each Other.’ The video is a beautiful reminder that humans find the utmost joy when they are in touch with each other.

“We made a short film ‘Never Lost’ to honor the solidarity and resilience of so many people coming together during this time,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, people are finding ways to stay connected to their family and friends. This video is proof that portrays real stories and user content from around the world.

Droga5, the creative agency behind this wonderful ad, said, “Alongside Facebook, we’re humbled to honor the solidarity and resilience of so many people coming together during this time.”

Furthermore, this ad aims to promote Facebook’s Community tool dedicated to COVID-19 – Community Help. People can make use of this tool to help people who need help during this coronavirus pandemic.

6. Nissan an ode to empty roads

Today the entire world is reeling in a feeling of uncertainty, but for sure, we all know that we will be back! This emotion is rightly captured by Nissan’s latest brand campaign that is aptly captioned ‘Ode to Empty Roads.’

Nissan’s ‘Ode to Empty Roads,’ is a new ad campaign that aims at paying tribute to the empty roads as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown all over the world.

In the video, shot in Dubai, you can see throughways free of cars and people, which is a powerful image of the current situation due to the coronavirus crisis.

In this ad campaign, Nissan is advocating drivers to stay safe at home and leave the roads empty. The video starts with a narrator saying, “Miss you a lot….we are inseparable, you and us”. The campaign is a reminder about the sacrifice that we need to make today for a better tomorrow.

Towards the end of the video, there is a scene of a luxurious home where the car is parked, and the gates close, saying, “until we meet again.” The message “Stay home, stay safe” is very prominently conveyed to people when a man appears to look at the city from his rooftop.

The creative team at TBWA\RAAD Dubai has won the hearts of many by creating an ad that is not about the product but emphasizes more on emotional brand building. This is a powerful ad campaign released by Nissan, which urges people to take time out to appreciate the benefits of the lockdown when the entire world is trying its level best to combat the frightful disease by imposing lockdowns and travel bans to prevent the spread.

“At Nissan, we have always encouraged you to take the wheel, but for now, it’s more important to be safe. We are going to miss the roads, and we are sure the roads are going to miss us too. They will be waiting, and we will pull through this stronger.” 

7. IKEA Stay home

While the entire world seems to be quarantined at home, IKEA has collaborated with the creative team of McCann Madrid to come up with an ad that brings a simple yet powerful message that says – Reconnect With Your Home!

Ikea pays tribute to our homes in this emotional ad. The video rekindles our memories associated with our home. It is the place where our kids grew up; we celebrated good news and, where we can be ourselves. Most importantly, it reassures people that we can turn everything around.

And “I’ll be here, no matter what” – is a statement that will bind people together to their homes during these testing times.

The commercial has no direct sales message, and over 1 million users have already watched it on Twitter within a week of its release.

“The idea of this ​​campaign was born when the Spanish government announced the immediate closure of schools, as a first measure to mitigate the spread of Covid19,” McCann executive creative director Raquel Martínez.

The commercial is released in Spanish with a hashtag #YoMeQuedoEnCasa (#StayHome). This simple yet powerful ad encourages people to have a new perspective of their homes and to enjoy all the new experiences during this time.

8. PENNY #Homefirst

German supermarket Penny, in collaboration with the creative agency, Serviceplan Campaign, has released a new brand campaign titled #homefirst.

This ad beautifully brings the challenging life of parents and children while they are locked down in their homes due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Christoph Everke, Creative Managing Director of Serviceplan Campaign: “What is truly extraordinary about this film is the special, documentary closeness that is created by the great footage, but also by the children’s perspective on the parents’ situation.”

The biggest challenge that parents are facing during this lockdown is to juggle between full-time parenting and work from home. But this ad brings us the bright side of the lockdown, as seen in the eyes of a little girl.

In the video, the little girl seems to bring out the appreciation as there is more time to cuddle, and she can now make her hallway as the best race track. Though she seems to be upset that she can’t go on a vacation in a plane, she enjoys as she ‘flies’ by jumping on her bed. The video is a reminder to all of us that we can still see stars in our own room! The girl loves being with her parents and says, “You are the best. I love you, Mama and Papa.”

“It is not only our employees who are currently doing so much at the moment but also families—many of whom we have as customers—who are dealing with major, unexpected challenges in their everyday lives every day,” said Stefan Magel, divisional director trading Germany REWE Group and COO of Penny in a statement. “We would like to show them with this campaign that they have our full respect for this.”

This video is an emotional reminder that there is a bright side to being at home.

9. Vodafone: Even When We Can’t Be Close, We Can Be Together 

In an amazing effort to bring together a brand campaign, Vodafone launched a new TV ad spot that is created entirely from home. Vodafone connected creative directors and professionals along with their families, using Vodafone’s Giga network to create an ad that highlights that “Even when we can’t be close we can be together.”

This ad is special and creative as the best Italian advertising directors were brought together to film scenes in their homes. In addition, they also directed a few Vodafone customers using smartphones and web cameras.

The ad goes on to show how people are learning together, relaxing together, cooking together, and importantly staying connected in these testing times.

The creative ad is successful in underlining the message of the campaign – we can be together even if we cannot remain close. 

10. Karlovacko Stay In Your Crate

Karlovačko, a Heineken International subsidiary, has released an ad to emphasize social distancing during the times of COVID-19.

The creative that is produced by the agency Network, Grey, sprays a dash of humor in its brand campaign. In the ad, a young man from the city has come to meet his girlfriend’s family and extends his hands with the intention of a handshake. But the seemingly angry father does not extend his hand in return.

The ad goes on to say, “In these times one should have character and keep physical contact to a minimum.”

Among Your Own was launched in 2019 to highlight the importance of belonging and acceptance by others. This video is an extension of its Among Your Own campaign that aims to communicate the importance of limiting physical contact, and staying at home in your crate – among your own.

This ad has been a great hit and has gained over 1.5 million views on all digital channels.

It’s time for brands to make a connection

“Brands should start preparing for the inevitable recovery, preparing for possible long-term shifts in consumers’ values, attitudes, and purchasing behaviors. It is also crucial for brands not to go silent at this particular time. Any brand communication at this critical time must be very genuine, in touch with reality and empathetic,” says Ghassan Kassabji, managing director of Nissan United at TBWA\RAAD.

It’s time for brands to make a connection by sending messages that reassure and support consumers.

Its time brands demonstrate by taking a stand alongside people who are facing the crisis by empathizing with their feelings and emotions.

Brands, along with their creatives, have always delivered social value in their brand campaigns. By using the right consumer insights, creative agencies can take a bold approach in their brand campaigns.

Brands will play a great role in fighting a war against the COVID-19. This war is important for brands to survive the crisis and then revive in the new world post COVID-19.