Marketing StrategyMolly Dewald

How Brands Adapt their Messaging to Current Events

By May 12, 2020 No Comments

The economic environment is changing rapidly, especially amidst the coronavirus pandemic. This means that it is more important than ever before to reach customers/clients strategically, through appropriate marketing that will relate to your audience. Now is the time to “humanize” your company and reach customers through community focused ads that will evoke emotion from targeted viewers. It is critical to acknowledge what is happening around the world, while using caution, as to not come across as insensitive or opportunistic. A recent article uncovered that about 92% of marketers have adjusted their messages since mid-March.

Digital marketing is an important key in communicating with customers while “stay-at-home” orders are in place. A recent study by Neilson data, revealed that when people are forced to stay inside, they view about 60% more content than they normally would, which is a significant increase. Through digital marketing, ads can be created that develop a sense of community, strong emotion, or even nostalgia. Since the world will likely be changed for the long-term, companies must recognize that in-person events and activities should not be prioritized when it comes to promoting their brand online. Let’s take a further look into how brands have pivoted their messaging during this time.

Build a sense of community:

Despite social distancing measures, brands are still capable of bringing people together and creating a sense of community. Many customers want to feel connected to others and the brands that they support. Video conferencing has been extremely influential in this, whether that be for virtual meetings, happy hours, at-home workouts, meditations, etc. Companies are even launching video sessions on platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Live, and Instagram’s IGTV, and seeing much success in bringing people together to “hang out.” Chipotle’s celebrity video sessions, called “Chipotle Together,” became very popular amongst customers. Since its first remote gathering in March, it generated 500 million impressions and 100 earned media stories.

Companies have also been partnering with artists to live stream performances, while promoting brand awareness. This has been very well received and companies, such as Verizon and Columbia Sportswear, have implemented this strategy to provide their current (and potential) customers with an exciting, at-home experience. These experiences help strengthen brand loyalty, build awareness, and create a sense of community.

Evoke emotion:

In these unprecedented times, companies have shown that a simple ad can make a significant impact on its audience. When viewers are sitting at home scrolling through social media or various websites, they’ll see numerous ads, but it’s the ones that evoke emotion that will make a lasting impression. Nike and Apple are great examples of brands that have captured their audiences through emotional advertising. Nike’s latest ad focused on images and videos of people around the world doing their best to stay fit indoors, with their message of “Play For The World/You Can’t Stop Us.” Additionally, Apple used footage to display what creativity looks like during this global pandemic and how innovation can still thrive, despite isolation, with their “Creativity Goes On” ad. Both of these ads exemplify the importance of creating an unforgettable message that will evoke emotion from viewers everywhere.

Understand the power of nostalgia:

Since there is a sense of fear and uncertainty amongst people during this time, it’s important to recognize that customers are taking comfort in the familiarity of the past. This being the case, brands can benefit from “the power of nostalgia.” Recent research by Andrew Abeyta, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University-Camden, found that, “nostalgia is a potent reminder of what makes our lives meaningful…memories can be reassuring in the face of uncertain times and make us feel optimistic about finding meaning in the face of tragedy.”

What does this mean for business? This may be a great opportunity to incorporate a popular song from the past or bring back an old ad that resonated strongly with viewers, and give it a relevant, revamped message. There are many ways that brands can utilize the power of nostalgia in their marketing strategy, especially during the current pandemic.

One company that successfully revamped its brand message is Budweiser. Budweiser not only created a sense of community, but also captured the essence of nostalgia in their most recent TV spot. They brought back the classic “Whassup?” commercial with a new twist – to inspire people to check in on their friends and family, while staying safe at home. Throughout their updated commercial, Budweiser acknowledged the current situation that the world is in. Budweiser used the original footage with new audio, to create a sense of nostalgia, while staying relevant. For example, in the voiceover, one of the actors answers the phone saying that they are “in quarantine, having a Bud,” instead of “watching the game.” The result is a funny and memorable version, that will certainly resonate with Budweiser’s audience. Budweiser’s Vice President of Marketing, Monica Rustgi, stated: “Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to remain virtually connected in ways that otherwise we would not have been able to within the current distance-mandated climate.”

Overall, the global health crisis has shown the necessity for companies to alter their marketing techniques and adapt their brand messaging to the current situation. Now is the time to create a powerful message that will have a lasting impact for many years to come. It’s the perfect opportunity to build your community and become a part of the conversation.

Molly De Wald

Author Molly De Wald

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