Thursday Thinky: All Things Coronavirus

With Coronavirus impacting everybody’s life, we decided to take a look at how brands have responded to the current crisis.

From the role that design can play in times of epidemics to email marketing used as a vessel to send virtual resources, as well as fundraising and advocacy initiatives, we take a 360 look at the current marketing landscape.

Stay safe everyone, stay home, and enjoy the read!



Creative & Brand


Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? A Brief of History of the Epidemic PSA (The Drum)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Design has always played an important role in public safety, from the basic theories behind road signs and other universally recognized symbols, to more complex and urgent communications– including campaigns to save lives during major health crises, like Coronavirus. This is a pretty cool exploration of how design has shaped our culture over the years. Beyond our strategic efforts to help the organizations we work with navigate this challenging time, what can we be doing, from a creativity and innovation standpoint, to provide comfort, utility, or connection to the general public?


72andSunnyWords to Wash By’ is what the world needs right now (Campaign Live)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Playing nicely off the last prompt, two staffers at agency 72AndSunny in LA decided to take matters into their own hands, literally, and created cheeky posters to put above sinks that take 20 seconds to read–the CDC’s recommended hand-washing time for getting rid of any potential COVID19 germs. They didn’t wait for a client or a brief, or answer a manager’s mandate to “get creative.” They had an idea and brought it to life. It may not be a breakthrough vaccine or an AI symptom tracker, but the posters do serve a very important purpose, even beyond getting folks to wash their hands properly: they bring some levity and humor into an otherwise chaotic time.


Guinness – New Guinness ad addresses cancellation of St Patrick’s Day parades (Creative Review)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy):Most brands have opted to stay out of the Coronavirus conversation so far, and with good reason. But while it may not seem like Guinness has any direct correlation to the health crisis we’re all facing (except for the fact that sales of their draught beer have probably slowed considerably), they DO have a direct tie to St. Patrick’s Day, which was this past Tuesday—and, strikingly devoid of all the public celebrations and parades that usually mark the occasion.

Fear not, though. In this lovely spot from the legendary Irish brewer, they remind us that St. Patty’s isn’t just about big crowds and green fountains, but really about honoring time spent with those we care about. Sure…they probably should have included some gatherings via video chat in their montage of small get-togethers, and I would imagine that some folks may find the overall “let’s drink together” sentiment insensitive in the current climate. But the underlying message here is one of hope and humanity, punctuated by a pledge from the brand to $500,000 to local communities through the Guinness Give Back Fund. In a really trying time for all of us, this manages to be a branded message that brings optimism instead of fear. Well done, Guinness. We’re raising a glass (at home) to you.

PS: Jameson is also getting in on the action with a donation to help bartenders suffering from restaurant closings.





A roundup of emails sent by brands to address COVID-19 (Really Good Emails)

From Jess (Account Strategist): We’re seeing more and more communications from organizations addressing COVID-19.

Really Good Emails sent out a round-up of their favorite “Emergency Emails”. And while each email’s message is unique, there are two common trends through-out them all: they highlight community and reader-centricity. They address coronavirus in a way that’s relevant to their organization, but recognize the impact that social distancing has on all of us on an individual level.

t’s about engaging your reader with empathy – acknowledging how this pandemic may affect them on a personal level, but reminding them that there’s a sense of community through-out it all.

Some of my favorites:
– Tattly: Your Stay-at-Home Activity Kit. Tattly sells “high-quality temporary tattoos, designed by professional artists”. And while this email has very little to do with temporary tattoos, it highlights that Tattly clearly know their audience – unique, creative, individuals who are likely craving a form of self-expression during a time in isolation. Plus, the email looks great.
– CVS: Get Coronavirus Information and Updates. This is a good example of an organization in the health space clearly addressing COVID-19 with an emphasis on education and solutions.





No Kids Hungry Coronavirus Community Program (No Kid Hungry)

From Nicola Leckie (Account Director): As U.S. schools close to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, many of the more than 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program will be wondering where they’ll get their next meal. When it comes to hunger in the U.S., school closures, missed time from work and other issues related to coronavirus will leave some families hungry and in need of assistance.

No Kid Hungry is collecting financial donations that will help make sure schools and community programs have the support they need to keep feeding vulnerable children during the pandemic. Their website assets include a haunting full page light box takeover that is calculating the number of school meals missed due to school closures, an emergency banner on the top of the page and a blog about “What coronavirus means for hungry kids.” The PayPal experience was a little wonky and an opportunity to create a Facebook fundraiser specific to Coronavirus was found on Facebook but not on the website, but really worthy cause to support right now.





Obviously – Using Influencers to share facts about COVID-19 (Obviously)

From Clara (Senior Advocacy Account Strategist): Influencer marketing agency Obviously has begun a new initiative aimed at leveraging their network of influencers (60,000+) to share facts and news about the coronavirus far and wide, called #ObviouslyGood. These influencers will use their vast networks to get the message out, directing users to the World Health Organization’s coronavirus page. The initiative is just beginning to roll out, so we haven’t seen what the full impact of this will be.

Since we know social media use is on the rise since the outbreak (we’re all seeking connection where can find it—at a properly socially distanced space, of course), it’s good to see Obviously leverage its influencer network to help promote facts. The more truth, the better.

I’d like to see agencies partner with governments (at the national and local level) to come up with innovative ways of getting the message out there in non-digital ways, too, so even those who don’t follow influencers on social media can get the information they need without being put at risk. I’m guessing those who do follow influencers are, at large, some of the best equipped to deal with the virus. But governments and institutions need help creating, producing, and publishing materials for those who don’t have regular access to the internet or aren’t in those digital spaces. This touches everyone, and there’s space for communicators to step up and support the full public as we go through these crazy times.


There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to effectiveness and measurement…but that’s a post for another day. Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheels spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts — get in touch with us!

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