A video, doing the rounds on the internet towards the beginning of March 2020, showed how all coronavirus campaigns were similar in their messaging and presentation. All ads started with a sombre piano track playing in the background, showed empty spaces and ended with “we are all in this together”.
What it meant?
The need at that time was reassuring the customer and reminding them that the brands were in this crisis with them. Although the campaigns set the right tone, they were all too similar to bring out individual brand personalities. The audience gets attached to a brand because they can relate to their unique vibe and messaging. Hence, if all campaigns look alike, the uniqueness gets lost.
From the overuse of terms like “uncertain times” to creating a serious set-up, the campaigns created a reassuring but heavy feeling for the viewer. However, now that restrictions are being relaxed in a phased manner, campaigns are focussing on “stepping out with precautions”. Again, most campaigns are promoting the same message and it can get monotonous soon.
Some brands, however, are exploring new ideas and spreading the message, with a slice of their personality.
1. Burger King - Avoids the mistake of playing it safe
Burger King is one brand that does not believe in playing it safe. From bashing the competition to increasing brand awareness in unconventional ways, the brand never stops thinking out of the box. Since the beginning of the outbreak of coronavirus, the brand has sent out light communication and spread its message in a fun way. With the ‘Home of the whopper’ campaign, Burger King installed big signs on people’s houses stating ‘Home of the whopper’. This was to promote the importance of staying at home and getting food home-delivered amid the rising crisis.
Burger King India ran campaigns around the safety standards that they are following at the outlets by taking pictures of actual employees and presenting them as card-game characters, with powers to do their work in a safe and sanitised way. Apart from essential messaging, the brand also gave a glimpse of the authenticity of its food with the mouldy whopper campaign. It showed how the whopper develops mould when left alone for several days. This showed that the food does not have any added preservatives which are bad for health.
Their Halloween campaigns are famous for taking digs at their rivals. This year the campaign said, “Even clowns should eat like kings!” The campaign featured several people dressed as a clown for Halloween eating whoppers at Burger King. Another extremely innovative campaign followed the navigation error by a Tesla car. The brand discovered that the car’s navigation system was mistaking the brand’s signs for “Stop” signs; so, they replied to the video saying, “Even AI knows what you’re in the mood for.” Burger King also asked people to share the video/picture of their smart car for a discount code and this campaign generated a lot of interaction and some of the videos got more than 1 million views.
2. Heineken - Avoids the mistake of following the digital herd
Everything is going digital, right? So why shouldn’t your brand focus all its energies on discovering a way to reach people’s screens? Heineken has the answer! With people being in front of their screens 24/7, they miss the experience of being outdoors. Their campaign “Cheers from home” captured many eyeballs and hearts when the stadium experience was sent to the homes of MSL fans. The campaign started when the brand called for photo entries of fans enjoying the game, to be sent on Twitter, and the fans with the best photos were to get a surprise. The reward for lucky winners was a “stadium in a box”.
Heineken sent fans a life-size box with a stadium chair (yes, an actual one) and a Heineken beverage fridge. This prompted more entries and conversations around the brand. The brand showed that it was possible to get the stadium experience at home, with Heineken and lots of enthusiasm to cheer their favourite teams.
As a brand, you should focus on the experience you are providing your audience with, digital or otherwise. As people associate with brands emotionally, it would be good to promote positivity.
3. Swiggy - Avoids the mistake of being serious all the time
Brands like Swiggy are known for their fun personality and interactive content. Hence, along with necessary messaging around precautions and safety, the brand continued to find ways to connect with the audience. They started delivering essentials apart from food, and also provided pick-ups and drops for customer’s items like laundry. This way the brand not only showed that it cared, but also proved it.
A campaign that we would like to highlight here is Swiggy’s Foodoshop. As people couldn’t visit restaurants amid lockdown, Swiggy introduced a filter of those restaurants with Instagram’s AR lens. Viewers from all over India used the filter and shared the results with the hashtag #SwiggyFoodoshop.
This tapped into people’s nostalgia and the wish to go outside to enjoy their favourite cuisines. As a food delivery app, Swiggy reminded people that home delivery of food was possible and restarted the process of online ordering. The campaign created brand recall and had a positive impact on Swiggy’s audience as they had fun using the filters.
4. Gillette - Avoids the mistake of staying the same
It’s not just the economy that is changing but the general sentiment of the consumers around the world. Consumers are becoming more aware of the ongoing social issues and expect brands to respect and support their views. Gillette, for example, changed its tagline from “the best a man can get” to “the best a man can be”. The change in messaging shows that gender equality can only be achieved if men start seeing the world in a different way. Young men need to be guided and supported to show compassion and become sensitive along with being strong. We need to teach the young girls to be strong and independent along with being polite and well- mannered.
Their campaign shows that if we teach our children the right things, this world can be a better place for them. And by changing their brand’s message, the brand showed that men can change too, and the stereotype of “boys will be boys” is incorrect. The campaign not only related to women’s equality but also highlights how boys are misunderstood, which impacts their mental health as well. The video is a beautiful representation of the kind of world we see in our future. It makes the brand’s message relevant and worth remembering.
Your brand has a unique personality and goal; don’t be afraid to show it to your audience. Calculated risks and unconventional campaigns can be rewarding for your brand. As leaders, don’t follow but lead!