Social Distancing – How Brands Adapt
We’re living in strange and uncertain times —that is for sure.
In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic where the whole world is interconnected in both the contraction of the virus as well as the efforts in combating it, we wonder how brands are coping with this.
Needless to say, during this first month of self-imposed quarantines —and to an extent, government enforced lockdowns— many businesses big-and-small have taken significant hits. Yet what are brands doing to help enforce this message?
It’s a tricky time to be a brand on social media, with most figuring out how to acknowledge the current pandemic. Being ‘business as normal’ can feel a bit insensitive, but constant reminders can also come across as scaremongering. It’s particularly difficult for brands in sectors such as hospitality and events.
However, we are now starting to see brands attempt to find some creative ways to spread the message of social distancing. Here are a few nice examples.
Using their own platforms and marketing teams, Chiquita Brands, Coca-Cola and Mucinex, just to name three, are among the many companies that have debuted branded PSAs urging people to abide by official recommendations surrounding COVID-19.
Chiquita posted a version of its logo on Instagram this morning without its iconic mascot, Miss Chiquita. The caption explained that she was “already home,” and asked followers to “do the same and protect yourself.” Chiquita’s social media accounts are run by Portugal-based digital agency Alice from YoungNetwork Group.
This morning in Times Square, Coca-Cola ran an ad with a similar message, urging people to practice social distancing. On a red background featuring the Coca-Cola logo with the letters spread way out, the ad simply read, “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.” It was created by Mercado McCann in Argentina.
In a campaign that launched Friday, Mucinex created a more exhaustive series of informational ads promoting facts about COVID-19 in an attempt to combat misinformation. The campaign encourages people to stay at least six feet away from others, debunks a myth that the virus is affected by the weather, promotes hand washing and asks people to refrain from touching their faces. Each ad directs people to COVID-19facts.com, a website run by the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins and international experts.
Yet it doesn’t stop there…
Due to most restaurants and bars in big cities temporarily closing or suffering from the effects of social distancing, Time Out magazine has rebranded itself as Time In. As well as reflecting the current situation, this means the publication is able to stay relevant, turning its attention to how people can maintain distance but still connect with their city and its establishments.
So, instead of its standard style of content, Time Out has started putting the focus on articles like ’25 feelgood movies on Netflix’ and ‘Awesome Indian takeaways for delivery’, encouraging its audience to do the right thing but try to find enjoyment in at the same time.
MTV is one of Viacom’s many entertainment brands to partake in its #AloneTogether campaign. The aim is to encourage people to stay at home even if they don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19, with the promise that MTV and other channels will be there to keep them company. MTV has promised live artist and celebrity takeovers, positive news bulletins, and continued social engagement with users (to ensure that distancing does not mean isolation). Evoking the sense that we’re all in it together, it’s one of the most responsible and community-driven reactions so far.
Audi & Volkswagen
Many automakers have disrupted production because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now Audi and Volkswagen are changing their logos—at least temporarily. To promote social distancing, a measure being used throughout the world to combat the spread of the virus, VW and Audi have put a bit of extra distance in their own logos. The updated Audi logo separates the four rings from each other, while the Volkswagen badge—which was recently redesigned—puts some extra space between the “V” and the “W.” The automakers have so far posted animations and logo images on various global consumer and media websites, as well as on social media channels.
Asos was recently called out for selling chainmail face masks amid the coronavirus outbreak (the masks were first launched in August 2019). Since making the decision to pull the product, however, the retailer has been more mindful about the way it is speaking about the pandemic on social media. Positively, Asos is using gentle humour to encourage social distancing, speaking about it in a way that is designed to appeal to its target audience of millennials.
In order to encourage social distancing, many restaurants and fast food chains are now promoting their delivery services. Chipotle is one such example, offering customers free delivery throughout March. Alongside this, the brand is also trying to make the situation a little more bearable by helping customers to virtually hang out together. This week, it launched ‘Chipotle Together’: a series of zoom hangouts featuring celebrity hosts and attended by up to 3,000 guests. So far, celebrity hosts have included stars of the US series, The Bachelor, and featured live music from rock band Portugal The Man.