Over the last month and a half we’ve highlighted various ways businesses might reconsider their marketing approach during – and even after – the COVID-19 crisis. From shifts in search behaviors and content preferences to new media and channel opportunities and tried-and-true communication strategies that still hold, there’s a lot of information to process, and it’s changing constantly.

Through it all, our team of intrepid LGAers have had their eyes and ears open to learn from brands who are making smart moves. Here are a few themes we’re seeing among marketers we think are getting it right. 

Care over Cost 

Global travel industry news website Skift sent an email to subscribers with a subject line that read, “We’ve gone dark.” The email announced that Skift was suspending content delivery for a day to give its editorial team a much-needed self-care break amid the whirlwind of COVID-19 coverage.  

“Based on that seemingly simple action, Skift earned greater respect and extra points in my book.”  -Carolyn Hulbert, Director of Digital Media 

In a recent Fortune interview, Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good demonstrated the company’s values by highlighting its commitment to waiving payments for customers who can’t pay their utility bills. Good also is transparent about their approach to having employees return to work safely, acknowledging they don’t have all the answers but are working hard to find them. 

“I have the most respect for companies who practice transparency in their communications at all levels and prove they mean what they say by backing up their messages with operational adjustments.”  -Natalie Bailey, Public Relations Account Supervisor 

The low-airfare alert website Scott’s Cheap Flights has added a coronavirus travel resources page and is helping people use Twitter to get money back for flights already booked.  

Since Scott’s isn’t involved in the booking process in any capacity, there’s no real reason or responsibility for them to invest time into helping people get their money back from canceled flights. They’re just good people.”  -Katie Fisher, Senior Copywriter 

McDonald’s is giving away free “Thank You Meals” to healthcare workers and first responders, and in its commercials highlights actions for all to stay safe. 

“Their new commercial is heart-wrenching and grew my affinity for them.”  -Carson Buckthal, Account Coordinator 

Community and Connection 

Major League Baseball recruited 30 players from across the country to compete in an online league of MLB the Show. The games are broadcast on ESPN2 and the ESPN app, and the winning player will earn $25,000 to be donated to the Boys & Girls Club in his community.   

“I know many people, including my boys, are desperately missing the spring baseball season, and I thought this was a great idea.”  -Meg Jokinen, Senior Account Director 

In addition to Orangetheory Fitness releasing free at-home workouts anyone can access, individual studio managers and coaches have worked hard to provide for the members of their community – reaching out to individuals, and providing Zoom workouts at multiple times to fit every schedule. 

“The sense of community has been amazing with my studio – the coaches and studio staff are still so active in helping us all continue to reach our fitness goals and it has 100% strengthened my love for the brand.”  -Shannon Calabro, Social media & Content Manager 

On-Brand Pivots 

When Dallas bookstore The Wild Detectives had to close due to COVID-19 quarantine measures, it reinvented itself as an online “travel agency,” advertising its books as travel expeditions (Barcelona: $14). Sales increased 200% the first week of launch.  

“I like this because it made me think about their product in a new way.”  -Margaret Bond, Vice President & Group Creative Director 

Known for facilitating in-person experiences in myriad destinations, Airbnb shifted to provide online experiences with hosts around the world. 

“They found a new way to add value and provide experiences people want and are willing to pay for.”  -Brent Schmid, Senior Account Executive 

Food and Fellowship 

Acknowledging that, “Hugs are great, but they’re hard to come by these days,” Wendy’s and Postmates teamed up to send a free “nug hug” – a 10-piece chicken nugget “hug” to someone you care about. This followed a notable shift in Wendy’s typically sassy tone on Twitter – the restaurant is celebrating people doing good and coordinating “group nugs” – a smart, sensitive shift in voice at a critical time.  

“It’s one of the best things I’ve seen done recently.”   -Lisa Purpura, Senior Vice President & Director of Media 

Grocery chain Publix started an ad campaign that was straightforward, rational and focused on shifts in the grocery shopping experience, centered on themes such as “Working Together” and making “Space for Others.” 

“Publix’s TV ad, even though it wasn’t flashy or sophisticated, got me to try out the store and I found the shopping experience lived up to the promise.”  -Bradley Ward, Senior Art Director 

RELATED INSIGHTS 

May 1, 2020: Understanding Customers is Crucial Amid COVID Chaos 

It’s time to sharpen and optimize the tools you use for customer-first marketing – here’s where to start. 

April 24, 2020: Brands Should Pivot to Avoid Consumers’ COVID Fatigue  
New data suggests some key messaging shifts marketers should consider as the pandemic continues to impact consumer mindsets.   

April 20, 2020: Shifting from B2B to B2H: Follow the Golden Rule  
Effective B2B marketing during COVID-19 requires a shift in approach shaped by understanding where consumers are – physically and emotionally – right now. 


How’s your COVID-19 marketing approach? Are you clear on when, where and how to pivot? We can help.  

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