In previous articles, I’ve focused on how business in general and CSR professionals, in particular, can help step up in the age of coronavirus. In this article, I’d like to explore ways in which the marketing, media and advertising industries in particular can help solve problems in these turbulent times.
I’ve written about this in the past, but now more than ever, I truly believe that advertising, media and creative companies have a chance to step up and help in ways that have never been considered before.
What if the creative and media industries found new ways to partner with nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, startups, governments and cities to find ways to improve our lives? What if all that energy could be redirected into creating experiences at the intersection of “useful and delightful,” that lifted our spirits in this time of need and helped those who needed help the most.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1.Re-purpose your advertising creative: Nike and Coca-Cola have already made the first move, with their calls for social distancing and staying at home.
Nike used the power of their celebrity partners like LeBron James, Ronaldo and Carli Lloyd to get their message out.
Coca-Cola also quickly repurposed their billboard in Times Square to send a message about social distancing.
Now more than ever, brands need to use their voice to not only send messages of caution, but also messages of hope and inspiration.
2. Donate your media time: There is a ton of media inventory out there which is on pause as brands consider the efficacy of their conventional messages. Brands should consider donating their media time to those non-profit organizations like Feeding America or No Kid Hungry who urgently need to fundraise, and offer their creative resources to help them create compelling PSA’s and other content.
Even better — brands should find ways to partner with fund-raising platforms like Omaze to help create virtual experiences (perhaps with their celebrity partners) that can be used to raise funds, and use their media dollars to help greatly extend their reach.
3. Underwrite and create at home experiences: Creativity is flourishing under restrictions, as artists find new ways to create virtual experiences.
Legendary DJ D-Nice has been making headlines with his free online dance parties, lifting people’s spirits at home. Dance Church is a superfun online dance experience broadcasting at Sundays at 10 a.m. Classes in art, meditation and so much more have blossomed. Brands should reach out to those creators and offer them help to financially support them, and use their social and owned channels to expand their reach.
The good folks at Momentum (an innovative automatic donation app) have also built an innovative Cancel Corona website. Founder Nick Fitz says, “We built a tool to help people calculate what they’re not spending and donate it to people missing work, kids missing lunches, healthcare workers, vaccine researchers, and more.”
In addition, the isolation caused by social distancing and quarantine has only increased mental stress. Brands should consider funding and partnering with platforms like Talkspace (which offers online mental health counseling) or Be My Eyes (which connects blind and low-vision people to sighted volunteers) to create new opportunities to support people.
Fitness becomes an even more important measure to help combat depression. Brands like adidas (in association with Runtastic) have created the “Fit From Home” challenge, and Under Armor has also created a 30-Day Fitness Challenge.
Former The North Face CMO Tom Herbst agrees. “I would argue that the best thing brands can do is shift, and shift quickly, to creating useful and entertaining content and conversations that will help people cope with their new indoor lives. The number one thing that will slow the spread of CV is social distancing. Brands can help make this time less painless, more useful and more fulfilling.”
4. Sponsor the early release of movies and content to create “virtual premieres”: When fans created a spontaneous Beyonce “Homecoming” watch party, tens of thousands tuned in (helped along by a retweet from Queen Bey herself). Brands could team up with movie studios to help underwrite the early release of new movies (to offset the loss of revenue from cinema sales) and create co-ordinated watch parties.
5. Underwrite access to experiences for kids: As a parent of a six-year-old who is now home, I’m eternally grateful to those folks like Khan Academy, Rebel Girls and artist Wendy McNaughton and others who are creating content and experience for kids to do at home. Child-focused brands can help by reaching out to support these organizations and find new ways to help their experiences reach audiences.
The final word goes to Herbst. “The good news for marketers is that most brands have spent the last few years thinking about and defining their brand purpose. Now is the perfect time to put that into action. Not by selling more stuff, but by being more useful to its communities. At a time when we can’t get out of our dwelling to buy objects, relationships become the new currency.”