The unprecedented formula for wasting as much brand equity and ad budget as possible in these uncertain times:
Cue up somber piano music. Load up b-roll of empty streets and businesses.
Use phrases like:
Now more than ever
Today more than ever
In times like these
During these times of great uncertainty
During these uncertain times
And the all-time favorite – In these unprecedented times…
Then toss in the words home and family.
Remind everyone that your company is here to help. “We’re here for you” is a great phrase to express that.
Then reassure everyone that we’ll get through this together. Be sure the word ‘together’ is also a hashtag.
Then spend thousands of dollars getting actors, err healthcare workers, to clap for the camera. But in no way should you actually spend money helping the healthcare workers. And certainly not restaurant employees.
Manipulative and meaningless. A big part of what makes this all so meaningless is that so many brands did it using this formula. In less than a week, they all announced they were here for us. Watch this video to see the embarrassing number of times the same sad music, phrasing, and b-roll were used.
And this from brands way too big to honestly give a flip about anything but their bottom line.
Uber, GrubHub, Re/Max, Samsung, Facebook, Apple, Kia, Budweiser, FedEx, Heineken, Penske, Lexus, Nationwide Insurance, Taco Cabana, Uhaul, Nissan, Aldi, Target—all guilty. (Apple, you should know better.)
“Nissan has been with you through thick and thin.” Whoever wrote that should be fired.
These are all the brands that will soon start showing ads depicting a “new day” – early morning scenes of people waking up and throwing back the curtains on a beautiful sunrise. They’ll be reminding you of how they were there for you in the bad times, and you need to go forth and shop with them during the good times.
How to make marketing that means something. The best rule of thumb for advertising during “these uncertain times” is the same dang rule of thumb it’s always been. If you can’t add to the conversation (which is 90% of brands at this point), don’t say anything. Keep your head down and focus on using this time to plan for the bigger picture. Don’t stop marketing, but don’t do cliché, designed by committee marketing either.
Always create marketing that gives more than it takes. A real competitive advantage in any marketplace is actually to give a sh*t about your customers. These brands did nothing but prove they really don’t.