Covid-19 Brand/Marketing Resource Center

Brand/Marketing Resource Center for Covid-19 Response

We created this Covid-19 brand/marketing resource center to help our health and wellness clients navigate the current environment and develop their action plans for the months ahead. As client partners, we want to help you in any way we can. While we can’t assist with all of your business challenges, we can be proactive in providing cross-category perspectives, insights, ideas and inspirations to help you to determine what actions to take with your brand and marketing as you navigate the uncharted territory ahead.  We’ve populated this resource center based on the strategies below, and we’ll continue to update it regularly.

Brand Actions

People will remember the brands that stepped out and stepped up to make a difference to their lives. Here are some ideas from across industries.

Turning On A Dime

How can you pivot your business model to deliver in creative (likely never imagined) ways to keep business going and help people weather the crisis.

  • Reimagine your resources. Multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog converted their alcohol operations into making Brewgel Punk Sanitiser. Additional companies have also launched the production of hand sanitizer, including Anheuser-Busch, luxury goods maker LVMH and Tito’s Vodka. Similarly, GAP pivoted resources so factory partners could make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines. Are there ways to re-imagine how you use your infrastructure, logistics, staff or delivery capabilities?

BrewGel Sanitizer

  • Reconsider what you’re really selling.
    Fitness. The gyms who thought they were only selling spaces to work out are closed. The ones who remain open are the ones who sold the more important emotional benefits of motivation and belonging – and they’re finding new audiences and revenue online, e.g. Planet Fitness and CorePower Yoga, who are offering online classes.
    Toys. Mattel launched Mattel Playroom, a one-stop shop with activities, tips and content from Mattel brands such as American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends. Updated on a weekly basis, the site will offer DIY designer tutorials and advice on how to play with toys. Statement from Mattel President & CEO Richard Dickson, “we recognize the unique challenges that parents and caregivers are facing right now both working and playing from home.”

Mattel Playroom

  • Extend beyond the core. As regular food providers like Peapod and Amazon’s Whole Foods are often sold out of delivery slots, Panera announced it’s pivoting to include Panera Grocery in its offerings. Customers can order pantry items like milk, bread and produce for pickup or delivery alongside regular Panera menu items such as soup and sandwiches. Are there ways to extend your core products, services or resources to help your customers?

Panera Grocery

Paying It Forward

  • Miller lite is supporting now unemployed bartenders in response to the mass closure of bars worldwide. The company tweeted a photo of an abandoned pub in support of their latest campaign “#VirtualTipJar”, which aims to raise money for bartenders who have been put out of work. The owner of Miller Lite, Molson Coors, also volunteered an additional $1 million as US restaurants and bars are shuttered.
  • Jameson, the Irish whiskey brand, is also looking out for bartenders – #LoveThyBartender – by contributing $500,000 to the United States Bartender’s Guild.
  • Domino’s.  Is giving away 1.25 million pizzas to thank first responders and others. The food is going to hospitals and medical centers, grocery store workers, and others. Domino’s says all 6,126 U.S. locations, the majority of which are owned by franchisees, are expected to take part in the “feed the need” giveaways.
  • Dunkin’ found a creative way to incentivize customers to get their donut fix, but from a safe distance. It launched a new social distancing rewards program, where customers who order on-the-go receive an extra 100 points on their DD Perks program. Additionally, the company’s Joy in Childhood Foundation pledged $1.25 million to support hunger relief organizations.
  • New York Philharmonic. Is offering NY Phil Plays On, a new portal for free digital content to provide comfort and connection to millions of classical music fans worldwide. The musicians dedicated one of the first performances to front-line healthcare workers.New York Philharmonic

Brand Advertising

We’ve pulled these examples across multiple categories of brands that have replaced existing campaigns with crisis-specific messaging. Common across all is the genuineness of striking the right tone for their particular brand in the midst of this unprecedented situation. For each spot, we also provide (our take on) key benefits takeaways.

AT&T. Started airing its Keeping You Connected commercial in late March. Referencing its connection to our communities dating back over 100 years, it cycles through stills of empty streets and shuttered storefronts. The voiceover says: “These days, it’s anything but business as usual. That’s why working together is more important than ever.” Key benefits takeaways: reduce anxiety, provide hope, convey sense of belonging.

Budweiser. Building on the familiarity of This Bud’s For You…, this heartfelt and powerful One Team commercial is a narrative over mostly still photos. It opens with a dramatic aerial view of an empty, darkened Yankee Stadium and empty downtown streets – and then switching up on This Bud’s For phrasing, honors the healthcare workers, teachers, delivery people and others stepping up during the pandemic. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, provide hope, nostalgia.

Cigna. In “Thank You for Staying Home” – Cigna thanks everyone for their efforts in the fight against COVID-19, from the doctors and nurses on the front lines to the 7,000 Cigna clinicians to the people staying at home. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, provide hope.

Comcast Business. In You Can Count On Us, Comcast Business points out that there are times our need to connect really matters, and that it is prepared for times like these. When every connection counts, Comcast Business says it can be counted on – with speed, reliability and security to manage business from any device, anywhere. Key benefits takeaways: provide reassurance, reduce anxiety.

Dove. In a salute to healthcare workers, the brand puts a poignant new face on “real beauty” (i.e. care and courage) through its “Courage Is Beautiful” campaign – showing stills of the faces of healthcare workers marked by the protective gear they’ve been wearing during the coronavirus crisis. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, self-transcendence.

Facebook. This “Closer” commercial for Portal says if you can’t be there, feel there. Heavy on emotional appeal, it looks to build usage of the videoconferencing device while people are quarantined and looking for ways to communicate. The new spot mostly highlights what people are interested in right now: video calls with family and friends. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, reduce anxiety, reassurance.

Ford. With a backdrop of closed businesses, lost employment and wages and heightened levels of uncertainty, Ford created two new type-driven ads around providing Ford Credit customers some breathing room around their car payments. The spots build off of their “Built…” brand essence with taglines like “Built to Lend a Hand” and “Built for Right Now”, reminding us that they (and we) have weathered storms like this before. Key benefits takeaways: reduce anxiety, provide hope, affiliation/belonging.

Lowe’s is urging customers to give thanks to health care workers in its new Join us and DIY a thank you message of your own campaign. After committing $170 million to coronavirus relief, the commercial showcases DIY thank you signs made by customers. The company tapped into the fact that consumers are stuck at home and gave them a productive and expressive means to thank front-line healthcare workers through this home-based project. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, therapeutic value.

Nature’s Bounty. In Thank You, Vitamin & Supplements brand Nature’s Bounty shares a Jana Stanfield quote: “We cannot do all the good that the world needs. But right now, the world needs all the good that we can do.” To all of its employees and everyone working to keep America strong, the brand is reaching out to say thank you. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging.

NBC News & MSNBC. Set against a backdrop of dramatic stills and music score, We Are All In This Together reminds us that whether we’re on the frontlines or at home, we are indeed all in this together. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, provide hope.

Northwell Health. Featuring a voiceover from New Yorker Ray Romano, We’ll Get Through The Coronavirus Together New York-focused PSA speaks to the strength of all New Yorkers combined with Northwell Health’s 70,000 professionals to heal once again…Together. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, provide hope.

Spectrum. While people are home-bound and searching for ways to connect with friends and family, Spectrum emphasizes in Keeping You Connected that these connections have never been more important. The provider has offered public wifi open to all, internet access for kids who need it and a network “built to handle anything.” Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, providing access, reducing anxiety.

State Farm. In the New Normal, State Farm affirms that we’re living a new normal, where businesses are closing and living rooms are now offices and schools. While the world is suddenly different, State Farm reassures that it’s there for us. The insurance company encourages anyone facing financial burdens to call their agent because the insurance company is here to help the new normal feel a little more normal. Key benefits takeaways: reduce anxiety, provide hope.

We’re including a second commercial from State Farm – Good Neighbor Relief, demonstrating what it really means to be a good neighbor. With people driving less, the company is returning two billion dollars to auto policy holders for the period ending May 3st.

Tractor Supply Co. As an essential, needs-based retailer, Tractor Supply launched their You’re Always Here campaign to recognize team members, customers and the company’s commitment to support the rural lifestyle during COVID-19. From Christi Korzekwa, Tractor Supply’s SVP Marketing “During these challenging times, we have an opportunity to celebrate Tractor Supply’s team members and customers. Every day, we are grateful and humbled to play a role in our customers’ ability to live life on their terms.” Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, reassurance.

USAA. In Overcoming Challenges, USAA says overcoming challenges is what defines the military community. The insurance agency wants members to know that it is here for them as it has been for over 100 years and will continue to serve them for many years to come. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, reassurance.

Walmart. With a backdrop of David Bowie’s Heroes, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon thanks Walmart employees for doing their part in making the world shine brighter. In Heroes, he tells them that he has always seen their spark, humanity and dedication, but as the world faces new challenges, he sees heroes. Key benefits takeaways: therapeutic value, motivation.

World Health Organization. In NBA: Prevent the Spread, players Danilo Gallinari, Ricky Rubio and Rui Hachimura urge people to pay attention to what the health experts are advising, from good and healthy habits to social distancing. Key benefits takeaways: affiliation/belonging, motivation.

Response Planning

Trajectory believes there are two questions that every brand needs to be asking to help people through the crisis. Read Your Brand’s Health Through The Pandemic.

Marketers need to rethink and redirect where they can. One important step is to ensure we deliver marketing with empathy. Read Trajectory’s Marketing With Empathy Through The Crisis. 

From BCG Leadership Institute, this article – Leading Out of Adversity – provides five leadership imperatives for addressing the short and medium-term priorities thrust upon teams as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Global communications firm Edelman conducted a 10-country study March 6-10 and released their Special Report: Trust and the Coronavirus. You can download it here.

Media planning and buying firm Harmelin Media released this report on the impact of the pandemic on advertising – Advertising During COVID-19.

Simon Data Strategic Advisory, has authored this thought piece Adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic – Engaging Customers and Managing a Marketing Marketing Function through Crisis. You can download the guide here.

Accenture provides these insights about how to best protect your people, serve your customers and stabilize business continuity. You can download the report here.

From Boston Consulting Group, COVID-19 and the New Leadership Agenda provides rich insights about the actions that need to be taken today, while embracing a new agenda for tomorrow —one aimed squarely at what comes next, for business and all of society.

Jane Ballis, principal with Ernst & Young LLP, where she serves as Global Advisory Leader for Media & Entertainment and Americas Marketing Consulting Leader, writes this point-of-view piece – Brand Marketing Through The Coronavirus Crisis – in Harvard Business Review about brands having to think, operate, and lead in new ways during these uncertain and unprecedented circumstances.

From Mayo Clinic, this special report – What You Should Know About Covid-19 provides essential answers to new questions about the virus, from a Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert.

Social Media

Cleveland Clinic. For #NationalDoctorsDay (March 30), the organization posted a call-to-action for people to express thanks to medical providers, and participated in a trending hashtag in a way that didn’t appear self-serving. It allows social media audiences to thank those on the  front lines using Kudoboard as a secondary touchpoint to ask for donations.


Coke has turned over its channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – to outside organizations like American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, Feeding America and Salvation Army, to name just a few. A spokesperson said the channels “have large audiences and we felt the Coca-Cola brand could use its reach to help and support communities and organizations.”

Coca-Cola Instagram

Cottonelle. Thru #ShareASquare, Cottonelle is donating $1 million & 1 million rolls of #toiletpaper to United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. And if people post how they were able to share a square, Cottonelle will  donate $1 through June 1 (up to $100,000).

Cottonelle share a square

Diagio. Is supporting workers in the bartending and restaurant business with virtual events. Bartenders suggest cocktail recipes that include Diageo’s Bulleit Bourbon or Tanqueray Gin along with some pantry staples. Diageo will donate $1 (up to $1 million) each time people share cocktail images on social media with its #TipsFromHome and #DiageoDonation hashtags with and is asking viewers to donate, or tip, through Givz.

Diageo Tips From Home

P&G. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine first reached out to Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO David Taylor to find a way to get Gen Z to abide by social-distancing orders. Spreading well beyond Ohio, this #DistanceDance TikTok video has generated over 8.7 billion views to date globally and 1.7 million response videos.

Tik Tok P&G Video

Snapchat has announced that it will launch its new ‘Here For You’ mental health resource center, making it available to all users in response to rising anxiety around the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide in-app support to Snapchatters who may be experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, with links to relevant resources and exercises to help people cope with such concerns.

snapchat here for you

Unilever. Thru Unilever #StayHome Is donating €100m of soap, sanitiser, bleach & food to emergency efforts; supporting its vulnerable suppliers/customers with €500m of cash flow relief; & protecting its workforce from sudden drops in pay.

Unilever #StayHome