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Big Brands Doing it Right (And Why Not to Go Dark During Hard Times)

Posted in News, Uncategorized | April 2,2020

During these times of incredible uncertainty, businesses everywhere are staring into the face of hard decisions. Cutbacks. Layoffs. Closures. And it seems like the projected timeline for when “things will get back to normal” keeps getting pushed out and pushed out again.

Many of our clients (many of whom are surgeons for elective procedures) are looking to us to help guide them in next steps. It’s an honor we don’t take lightly. Last week, we shared a piece about marketing in the days of COVID-19 and talked through the importance of brand building and staying the course even during—especially during—these difficult days.

As marketers, we would rarely say this, but the reality of the situation we are all waking up to every day requires a markedly different approach than anything most of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. Here’s the truth:

Right now, outright promotion may be perceived by desired audiences as a bad idea. And yes, some forms of traditional marketing and promotion may feel out of step and insensitive; especially for medical professionals.

Instead, we love the idea of remaining visible, remaining positive, maintaining relevance, being informative and, most importantly, being present, across all your marketing channels.

In a word, don’t go dark.

Here are our favorite big brands who are doing it right.

  1. Cottonelle. As one of the world’s largest producers of toilet paper, the company recently put out a feel-good commercial speaking reassurance to the collective hysteria that is causing people to make a run on the toilet paper aisle in grocery stores across the nation. It acknowledges the fear many Americans are feeling. It communicates what the company is doing to help the people who need it most. It asks something of the rest of us. “Instead of stockpiling toilet paper, let’s stock up on generosity. And if you can, please #ShareASquare” This ad is simple, but perfectly brilliant.
  2. State Farm. As one of the country’s largest insurance providers, their “New Normal” commercial does a fantastic job of calling out the reality most of us are facing and all changes we are being hit with on the daily. Job loss, working remotely, schooling our children in our living rooms, social distancing. Visually it reminds us that “hope is not cancelled” and that even though everything feels uncertain and shaky, State Farm is there. You can’t not feel better after watching this one.
  3. Ford. The American giant in auto sales was among the very first to pull its national sales campaign and replace it with this. The patriotic spot describes how the company is responding to the coronavirus, including offering Ford Credit customers some payment relief. A slight pivot in the tagline Built Ford Tough reminds consumers that the more than 100-year old company is Built for Right Now. The company acknowledged that car payments are a big expense for many Americans and committed to help the people who need it. That’s brave. And it’s beautiful.

Companies, large and small, everywhere, are stepping up and showing support in this shaky season. Chipotle Mexican Grill is the latest chain to offer free food for medical workers, with the goal of giving away up to 100,000 burritos to employees at healthcare facilities. By partnering with DoorDash, Chipotle is doing what it can to help.

Shouldn’t we all?

In summary, the best way to market right now is by being a source of sound information and reassurance for your patients/clients/customers, in the midst of some very uncertain times. Soon enough, it will be time to pivot back to promotions, sales and traditional campaigns. But that day is not today.

At MPR, we remain focused on that day. But today, we are even more focused on helping our clients to keep their brands out there in the most sensible, sensitive and community-minded ways possible.

If you need help with messaging to your patients, your vendors, your clients, customers or even your own internal team, let us help. We are here to support you in this season and we invite you to reach out.

We remain real people responding to our valued clients and the community in real time. During this unprecedented public health challenge, we are doing our very best to serve and support our clients, our community and our own hard-working team. We’re certainly here if you need us.