Covid-19 Advertising – Good, Bad, and the Really Ugly

“We have a unique opportunity now to be radically generous, best we can and that can be financially and thoughtfully aggressive. Some of our businesses are threatened. Most businesses are down in meaningful ways. As business leaders, we got to navigate through this the best we can.” – Christopher Lochhead

Listen to Christopher Lochhead and Eddie Yoon discuss ideas around radical generosity and thoughtful aggression in this recent podcast. Its relevance can’t be overstated. Click Here

In my last post, I wrote on how poorly some advertisers are handling communications during this historic period. There are some big misses taking place out there. They are being perpetrated by agencies and companies that should know better.

One example that demonstrates how bad it can be is found here. It’s a parody of every car commercial out there. The national brands are missing it by miles. This parody could be real, with the exception of a couple of frames, could feature a brand logo, go into the media buy and no one would be the wiser.

A heavily running Toyota ad featuring the beloved Toyota Jan, spokesmodel extraordinaire, shares her intro and then immediately launches into favorable terms, garages being opened info, and at-home delivery. It’s self-serving as hell and there is nothing radically generous or authentic about it.

Fast Company is doing a weekly hit and miss feature and they are showing some of the best and worst. Follow them here. You’ll see adidas miss big time in this one.

So what is happening and why is this stuff so irritating to me? I’m asking myself that question daily. I think it’s the obvious way companies could be winning with their work and message at present. They are continuing to keep score in conventional ways and we don’t currently live or work in conventional times.

Let me share a couple of ways companies are actually building massive brand loyalty within the crisis.

Example: Farmers Insurance. In this short commercial, they state what they are doing for their customers and some others in their circle of influence. They don’t SELL. They give. This isn’t rocket science people. Other insurance companies are stepping up but aren’t putting it out there as successfully as this piece.

Example: Publix Grocery Stores. LAKELAND, Fla., April 22, 2020 — Publix announced today a new initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Publix will donate these products directly to Feeding America member food banks in its operating area. The initiative will support Florida produce farmers, southeastern dairy farmers and the growing number of families looking to Feeding America for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk during the coronavirus pandemic. Kicking off today, the initiative is expected to run for several weeks.

  1. How might you and your company be more radically generous? It doesn’t always have to take your resources financially. It oftentimes means coordination of the resources of others.
  2. Eddie Yoon and Christopher Lochhead talk much about category creation. There is no better time for a business launch than now if you think of terms of blue ocean strategy, thoughtful aggression, and radical generosity.
  3. How might your product’s margins be thinned so you may be more generous?
  4. How might your marketing messaging be casting light toward those who need attention as opposed to appearing self-serving?
  5. How might your digital marketing become more personal?

Stop selling with your ads. Stop the inauthenticity of your narrative. You know how it looks.

As Christopher Lochhead continues to preach; what you do now as a brand will stay with your company for years after this crisis.

Sherman G. Mohr

Sherman G. Mohr is a Nashville TN based Insead Certified Blue Ocean Strategist.