Companies to Follow During COVID-19

In Part 1 of our COVID-19 series, we discussed the importance of adjusting your marketing strategy given the current environment. We provided three concrete tips that you can work to implement right away. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure your brand is getting its advertising right. In fact, Edelman recently released a Trust Barometer Special Report focused around the impact of COVID-19 on the brand-consumer relationship. This report provides a wealth of insight into the ways consumers are thinking of brands, their advertising efforts, and their responsibility to provide support to the coronavirus fight. 

In today’s post, we’d like to take a deeper look at what these Edelman statistics reveal about the current state of the consumer mindset, followed by some brand campaigns that align well with these findings through their advertising efforts.

Edelman Report 

On March 30th, Edelman released the “Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic,” to highlight their findings from a 12-market study of 12,000 respondents within Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, U.K. and U.S. The intention of releasing this report was to show brands “the power and necessity of brand as well as their urgent need to act.”

Some key statistics around consumers’ brand sentiment and advertising efforts included that 84% think brands should focus advertising on how the product and services can help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges. Additionally, 57% think brands should stop any advertising or marketing that is humorous or too lighthearted in tone. These are key facts that support Tip #3 from our last post, which highlights how marketers and advertisers should be adjusting their messaging.

This is absolutely critical for brands to take into consideration, which is also highlighted by the fact Edelman found that 65% said how well a brand responds to this crisis will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy that brand in the future. Paired with the fact that 33% have convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic.

Brands Getting it Right 

We’ve seen a lot of brands taking their customers’ sentiment and state of well-being into their marketing strategy. For example, Citi’s foundation arm reacted quickly to the crisis, announcing on March 19th they’d be donating $15 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts globally. The $15 million was divided up into three segments: 

  • $5 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund
  • $5 million to No Kid Hungry to support emergency Food Distribution Programs in the U.S.
  • $5 million to additional international, country-specific efforts in places that are severely impacted. 

Their release also noted the potential for more support in which “the Citi Foundation will also be working to identify additional opportunities to support longer-term recovery efforts.”

Ford also stepped up to the plate in a couple of ways. They scrapped their announcement tied to re-releasing the Bronco and shifted its advertising message to their Ford Credit customers, allowing them the ability to change a payment due date or delay payment. This speaks volumes to the brand and showcases to its customer base Ford’s desire to do the right thing for them. In a second part to their efforts, they announced they’d be partnering with 3M and GE Healthcare to design powered air-purifying respirators with 3M and expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s ventilator design. 

In a different approach, Coke also adjusted its advertising efforts in a way particularly well exemplified by their social media handover. Instead of using their channels to continue promoting their product or campaigns, they passed over their accounts to organizations they knew could help and need help of their own in this environment. For example, it joined forces with organizations like the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, Feeding America, and Salvation Army. Due to the magnitude of Coke’s following, they “felt the Coca-Cola brand could use its reach to help and support communities and organizations.”

Lowe’s is another great example of a brand marketing with their customers and the broader community in mind. Not only has the brand committed $170 million to coronavirus relief to frontline works and their own 300,000 employees, it took it a step further with its #BuildThanks campaign, in which they encourage customers to make DIY thank you signs to keep the spirits up of frontline heroes in the pandemic. 

There are many brands doing the right thing, and AdAge has a great running list of brands’ marketing responses if you’re interested in reading more about what others are doing.

What this all comes down to is really knowing what your customers want and need in this trying time. The current environment aside, we strongly encourage brands to take their customer’s voice into consideration to inform their business decisions, but now it’s more important than ever. Consumers across the globe spoke loudly in Edleman’s report, so it’s time that brand marketers listen. 

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