Many brands have decided to turn off their marketing efforts during this time, especially outdoor advertisement as it seems like a wasted resource due to worldwide lockdowns. However, is now not the time that customers need distractions and to hear from brands the most?
As the pandemic spread globally quite quickly, a lot of brands had to adapt their marketing plans accordingly and in quick measure. Once brands realised tomorrow would be nothing like ‘business as usual’ and all of their retail executions, marketing ideas and media would have to be rethought carefully a lot of brands pulled through accordingly. Current brands existing brand creative might strike the wrong tone and idea with customers as there is a constant worry and profound uncertainty worldwide.
However, there is a huge gap of opportunity for brands to think small and create little moments of distraction for people to help us forget the real world even for a fraction of a minute.
There are questions around do customers want to hear from brands and if so, what do they want to hear? The answer is yes, all customers do but only if it is a comforting and reassuring message to them about how brands are responding to the pandemic. Brands should be avoiding messages that may carry anxiety and concern about the current climate as this is what we are exposed to on the news daily, a shared script between people who remind us we are in constant danger. Brands have the opportunity to be a safe haven for customers to hear messages of hope or be a form of entertainment to them as we are literally confined to our homes for the second time where escapism seems impossible for some.
We have never been more connected to what is going on in the real world and this time around customers no longer want to hear brands echoing back messages that are already everywhere. From ‘’stay at home’’, ‘Keep your distance’’ to ‘Wear a mask’, these messages have now lost their original meaning as this is already our new normal and we’ve become accustomed to it now. Being reminded of it everywhere you go where you think would be a distraction from it is becoming tiresome.
There has never been a better time for some distractions, especially on the run up to Christmas as this is usually the most ‘wonderful’ time of the year. The world’s strongest and most popular brands have always delivered on being a source of distraction from the beginning of this pandemic.
Nike, for example tempted us all away from our couches for a 5K run, they also chose to be a sense of inspiration for us all with a new AD copy “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance: play inside, play for the world,”. This was an aspirational call to action for people to encourage staying at home.
Other brands such as Bud Light and Snapchat took the approach of bringing people together to help bridge the physical distance imposed by social distancing. Bud Light hosted a Dive bar tour featuring live music from popular artists livestreamed on YouTube.
Snapchat curated a ‘here for you’ mental health campaign, proving they are caring for their community of teenagers and young adults.
Other brands such as IKEA took a different approach and allowed us virtually to play with their furniture in our own homes through an app.
Pedigree took a similar approach and thought us all how to take the perfect selfies with our pets.
Airbnb, an industry that has been hit hard by lockdown restrictions focused their marketing communications by inspiring customers of travel again and offered images of its stunning places, free for download and use as the use of at-home devices was at an all time high.
People-orientated and empathetic brands who put entertainment as forms of distraction are proven to have higher engagement in the long term. The things that we can do right now to distract ourselves are the things that are capturing our attention. Its not to go unnoticed that the brands who are genuinely helping front-line workers by offering discounts on their products or even free meals are incredibly generous and appreciated. However, there is a need now for more light-hearted distractions from brands in this time we are in.
We are all so caught up in the big ideas of the future and what it will hold and how will the year 2020 shape the coming years. However, it’s going back to basics of living in this moment and we are all going through this one day a time. Maybe the best way for brands to help in this climate is by creating little distractions, by thinking small about the now rather than the big about the future. To help us all forget about the real world just for a minute even if the distraction is a silly one.