How brands should(n’t) communicate
The past period has been a huge challenge for companies, not only in terms of organizing their operations but also in finding the right way to communicate their brands with end users.
Ever since the crisis hit, the challenge has been here. Should we react? How to react? When to react?
In most cases, the first reaction of the brands was “Stop! Stop everything! ”
Like when in a fast race, where even the slightest danger can have huge consequences, you immediately press the brake. It is a natural instinct for survival. To stop first, not to die, and then I’ll see how to continue the race. Perhaps quite justified, except for those in whom it was their last reaction. They stopped and did not continue, they disappeared all this time.
They may survive, but it will take a long time for them to catch up. Especially to catch up with the once who due to the sudden curvature, did not press the brake, but tightened the steering wheel so as not to lose the direction, and even pressed a little on the gas to get out of the curve faster. These should be experienced drivers, with long mileage, those who have passed and sieve and grate. Although this is not always the case.
The danger, especially the danger to our lives, paralyzes many people out of fear, and so do certain brands or people who run them.
It was interesting to follow the reactions of the brands. Who reacts at what speed and how it reacts. It is likely that case studies, analyzes and conclusions will be drawn as to how we were supposed to react. Especially since this was the first time in our recent past that humanity has faced a pandemic. This time even Google had no answer to the question of what and how should be done. The stage was free for marketing creatives to offer their own original and creative solutions.
The biggest gaffe that some companies have made is that they have forgotten to stop the already approved and set up digital campaigns. The comfort we have managing the digital space, everything to prepare in advance, to set up the whole campaign with the exact dates and time of going live and to “forget” about it, to dedicate yourself to other projects, this time did not prove to be the smartest way. Some marketers have really forgotten about these campaigns, so they forgot to turn them off until the first reactions on the online media arrived. One such bad example is the American airline Spirit Airlines, which a day after banning all flights to Europe, launched a campaign promoting long-haul flights with main communication: “There is no better time to fly than now!” Oops!
You would say a novice mistake would be expected from a smaller company, but not from an airline with a serious marketing team. But it happened exactly to them.
As isolation and non-socialization measures tightened, more and more campaigns were called off. Those who showed licking fingers (KFC), hugging and insufficient distancing, all the ads that were inappropriately cheerful, calling for socializing, dancing. Everything had to be adjusted. Or at least withdraw.
Since their awakening, brands have begun mass communication of humanity, support for health workers, police, saleswomen, health centers, and even the state. And all these support is great, but there are two points to keep in mind.
First, the brand must be consistent in its communication. It’s not enough to make an ad hoc gest of humanity, taking care of ecology, marginalized groups, and so on. There must be a clear mission that will apply in the long run. After which the brand will be recognized and appreciated.
Second, always the best lad in the group was the one who will be the first to make a crazy hairstyle, who will be the first to wear an interesting piece of clothing, the one who sets the trends. Once everyone looks the same, it is no longer in. So it’s in marketing. During this period, most companies showed some social responsibility and we were overwhelmed by announcements about their actions, the donations they made. I don’t think anyone read that news in the end. I regret that some actions went unnoticed, or at least did not get the attention they would get in other circumstances.
Not that there aren’t great examples, cause there are. The first one that comes to my mind is the Dove campaign, where the brand subtly says that it doesn’t matter which soap you buy, it’s important to wash your hands and stay safe. Wisely, even perfidiously, they put the consumer in front of the brand, and of course, by doing so, the brand gets all the credits. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJKVesLpQwY )
Another great example is the Ford campaign, in which they prepared various wallpapers that you can set while talking to someone on Zoom. You can choose which Ford car you want to drive while at home, in front of a computer. Fun, unobtrusive. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpHTv4-uHzY )
One of the largest Finnish retail chains, HOK-Elanto, has published a very interesting advertisement in one of their most widely read printed newspapers, where the advertisement on the front page can be read only if you are far enough away, ie at a “safe” distance – Keeping it safe.
Another nice example, where the brand thinks of consumers, is the Belgian beer brand Jupiler, which has made an application where you can “postpone” your birthday. You mark your real birthday, attach a picture of your ID card, and choose a date (after the crisis) when you want to celebrate your birthday. Everyone who has postponed their birthday gets 10 beers to toast with their friends. The campaign is called Postpone your birthday (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7DHDKWWBBFQ )
It’s never easy to be original with your ad and campaign, especially now, when all brands are communicating more or less the same thing. The skill is seen in saying the same thing, but in a different way, finding a new communication channel, as they did with Ford, or using the oldest communication channel, but in a new way, such as the HOK-Elanto example. To be compassionate, but not pathetic.
This was a school of life. A school without a second, third chance to improve. A school from which we all learned a lot.