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Marketing during a global pandemic - the brands who are nailing and failing

There is a right and a wrong way to market your business right now.


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Mia Fileman

3 years ago | 3 min read

You need to be sensitive to the real-world pain points your customers are feeling without "virtue signalling" or "profiteering". 

You need to communicate and nurture audience relationships without suffocating them with updates and COVID-19 messages they don't need. 

We've compiled some examples of brands, in a bunch of different industries, who have either nailed or failed their marketing in the current climate, and provided a breakdown of what you can learn from their response. 

NAILED IT

West Elm offers free virtual backdrops for your remote Zoom calls.

These days, the majority of business is being conducted from your living room, which can be awkward. West Elm has offered a classy solution with virtual backgrounds that can spruce up your Zoom calls.

The backgrounds are completely free and easy to install, and all showcase actual products available from the West Elm stores.

Why this is a great idea:
West Elm have taken a moment to think about where people are spending their time and the genuine pain points they might be experiencing right now (also known as that basket of laundry in the background of your meeting). They’ve used what they do best (furniture) to hustle out a free and simple solution for people - all while building brand awareness and affinity.

FAILED IT

Virgin Atlantic struggle through a PR disaster that has undercut their brand values.

Virgin Atlantic came under fire recently for what is best described as a PR fail. While many airlines have been readily backing their staff, Virgin Atlantic asked all staff take 8 weeks unpaid leave.

Why this is a marketing fail:

With a net worth of £8.9 BILLION, Virgin Atlantic owner Sir Richard Branson could literally pay the wages of his staff purely out of the interest accruing on his personal wealth.

The real failure here is that it comes after years of Branson building an identity (both with his personal and company brand) as being employee-centric.

He has spouted time and time again, the importance of taking care of your people first and your customers second. So, what appears to the public as throwing employees under the bus, has put a massive stain on a lifetime of brand-building efforts.

Following public outcry and coming under fire in British parliament, Branson announced he would be making a £250 million investment in the company to protect employees. He also stated that the staff collectively volunteered to take 8 weeks unpaid leave over the next 6 months.

NAILED IT

National Cowboy Museum puts their loveable security guard in charge of their Twitter account.

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is closed but the one person still working is their head of security, Tim. To keep their Twitter feed fresh and interesting with museum content, they asked Tim to take over.

Tim has been providing educational glimpses into the exhibitions - but more than anything he has been providing some much needed relatable and wholesome tweets that are filling everyone with the warm and fuzzies.

Why this is a great idea:
Tim is authentic, relatable and hilarious without being insensitive to the current climate. He is a little ray of sunshine amongst the darkness of everyone’s Twitter feed right now.

The museum is developing mass brand awareness and affinity with their audience by showcasing a relatable character who has been thrown out of his depth with digital technology.

FAILED IT

Far too many brands forgot to check their active ad campaigns.

You know the ones, the ads that under normal circumstances wouldn’t make you look twice, but now? When the idea of community, co-working spaces and happy hours are globally on pause? Your ads are going to look a bit stupid.

Why this is a marketing fail:

It’s pretty self explanatory really. Your ads aren’t going to work. At best, your messaging will not resonate with anyone and at worst you will come across as insensitive and offensive. If you haven’t already, double check any campaigns you have running in the background!!!

This article was originally published on Idiello.

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