April 16, 2020

Marketers Wielding Creativity to Battle Coronavirus

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.

As marketers mull uncertainties spawned by the coronavirus, one trait they’ve always brandished continues to stand above the rest, as recent virus episodes gone viral have shown.

That trait is called creativity.

One hashtag campaign in social marketing, for example, is #TheGreatAmericanTakeout, which encourages citizens nationwide to support their local restaurant industry by ordering takeout on Tuesdays. Restaurants that have remained open during the quarantine have been confined to curbside pickup orders, and many Americans have responded by trying to support their local eateries.

The hashtag drive continues to gel. Just this week, Coca-Cola backed The Great American Takeout by giving away more than 100 gift cards each worth $50; Rich Products donated $5 to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund for each social media post that includes #TheGreatAmericanTakeout; and, Pepsi, Smithfield and Tyson also have backed broader efforts to help restaurant employees.

The nation’s brewers, who aren’t necessarily hurting economically (Nielsen reported that during the week ending March 21, beer sales spiked 66 percent from the same period as the year before), are tossing their own barrels of creativity into the mix.

You may have already seen the well-publicized photo from social media posts that showed a 93-year-old woman from the Pittsburgh area holding up a can of Coors Light in her window along with a sign proclaiming, “I need more beer!”

Molson Coors saw Olive Veronesi’s plea and delivered her 150 cans of Silver Bullet, “but we’ve also let Olive and her family know that they have a standing offer for more Coors Light whenever they’re ready for a restock.”

Molson Coor’s chief competitor, Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, is out to lure the youngest of beer drinkers with a May 14 sweepstakes drawing on Facebook Live that’s titled “Worldwide Commencement.” The star of that social marketing show will be its economy brew, Natural Light.

With colleges calling off commencement ceremonies in light of the coronavirus outbreak, “Natty is throwing a commencement ceremony for the entire Class of 2020 and we plan on making this commencement ceremony actually fun,” the brewer says.

During the Facebook event, 50 winners will be featured as they’re picked randomly for unspecified prizes, which may well include beer and commercial appearances. Hosted by actress Amanda Cerny, “Worldwide Commencement” will feature Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actress Jane Lynch, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini  and “many more” guests.

“The public health crisis has had a massive impact on college students,” Daniel Blake, VP of U.S. value brands at AB InBev, says. “The Class of 2020 not only deserves a commencement, but one of epic proportions. Natty Light is going to host the most memorable graduation ceremony to date.”

And finally, also from the world of beverages, milk has spilled into recent marketing news.

More time at home means more time for cooking or perhaps a bowl of cereal; hence, people wanted more milk last month. During two weeks in March, weekly gallon sales of milk were up 33 percent from a typical week earlier in the year, one study says.

MilkPEP (The Milk Processor Education Program) markets milk, so it seized upon American shoppers’ needs. It’s featuring ads in a new drive called “Milk. Love What’s Real.”

One TV ad for the drive shows how people across the dairy and retail industries keep milk in stock; other ads highlight families enjoying their creamy liquid at home.

Social media posts in the campaign highlight MilkPEP’s support of Feeding America, the network of more than 200 food banks that feeds more than 46 million people.

Feeding America has been ranked by Forbes as America’s second largest charity in terms of revenue, but the COVID-19 crisis has hit the organization hard in recent weeks and it’s in dire need of donations.

It now has had to sound some brand messaging of its own — not so much with creativity, only hard facts and numbers needed.

“Last year USDA reported that 37 million people face hunger in America and the Feeding America network of food banks distributed 4.2 billion meals,” notes Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Feeding America’s CEO.

“This year, the COVID-19 crisis is driving more of our neighbors into food insecurity and putting a strain on food banks to provide more meals. Never has the charitable food system faced such tremendous challenge, and we need all the resources we can get to help our neighbors during this terrible time.”

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