I am not going to call this column “advertising in the time of coronavirus” because I will personally try to drown in hand sanitiser the next person who uses the by now cliched phrase stolen from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.
But the current crisis has offered opportunities for marketers … although these have been good, bad and downright ugly.
Orchids must go to all those who reacted in a humanitarian way: here are some of the top performers (who all get Orchids):
The reason these people and companies are getting Orchids (and there are many more deserving ones) is because what they are doing is genuine civic duty, as opposed to cheaply exploiting a crisis. Many are those who hiked prices of in-demand products.
Some brands used the opportunity for timely advertising. The Nando’s team got people talking with their topical dig at competitor KFC, whose slogan is “Finger lickin’ good”. The simple execution, which went viral, said: “Turns out finger licking isn’t so good. Reach for the soap instead.”
I suppose Nando’s would argue – tongue-in-cheek – this was a “public service announcement” about hand washing to discourage virus transmission … but we all know. But, because it got such good traction and made many smile, it gets a Orchid. But, with a caution: perhaps next time, don’t pick on the opposition, because you’re in the same awful boat and it could look just nasty.
An ad from overseas, for Audi, avoids that pitfall, but still gets across a useful message – and uses its own brand imagery to do so. It’s well-known four-ring symbol is first separate (self-isolated), with the line “keep distance”, which is followed by the rings united and the line “stay together”.
It’s a message which at once burnishes yet transcends brands. It also echoes Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s St Patrick’s Day message to his country, which is applicable worldwide. “It’s time to come together by staying apart.”
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