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COVID-19 & Creativity

by Matthew May - May 1, 2020

In response to COVID-19 and the associated new social dynamics communities had to navigate, many brands, and rightly so (cue shoutout a LinkedIn article written by our President, if you haven’t seen it 😊) pivoted their brand messages to be more reflective of the current times and to be more human. You could call it “PSA+”, where brands are making effective use of their brand equity for the greater good. Here is a gathering of a few examples in no particular order that has captured attention for all the right reasons…


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As all potentially have a little more time on our hands and look for new ways to be entertained, some old-school faves have flown back into favour, think board games and alike. Jigsaw puzzles fall into that wholesome fun activity bucket. Heinz Tomato Sauce has come up with a way to be contextually-relevant and help their beloved fans with a little something to do. Introducing the world’s slowest puzzle…The twist? All the pieces are red!!!!! Super creative idea. On-brand. Buzzworthy. Curiously, I wonder how many of us would end up “seeing red” while attempting to complete the puzzle 😊


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While we may not be able to currently spend our summer nights under the stars, we can spend then under the sofa for a creative take on the camping experience.

Ikea has created a series of instructions on how to build homemade forts or bespoke camping tents for children and let’s be honest here, adults alike. The guides leverage the visual aesthetic of traditional Ikea instruction manuals, showcasing line-drawn forts, castles, and tents –documenting everything you need to create your very own fortress. Tapping into the mindset of parents, Ikea took the opportunity for a perfect pivot that just brings a smile to the face of parents and stirs the imagination of the little ones. For extra realism, why not add some fairy lights and roast a few smores for a truly authentic experience.


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For many, thoughts and visions of vacations are never too far away. Minds wander to thoughts of traversing the path less travelled or taking in those must-see sights. Now while we may not be currently able to fulfill that desire. To help satisfy that quest, Viceroy Hotels & Resorts took the opportunity to stay relevant and stay top-of-mind to their audience, by bringing a sense of adventure to the comfort of their living room with a range of branded virtual backgrounds available to download. These desirable destinations are the perfect ice-breaker or light-hearted kick-off to any zoom meeting. The only question that remains unanswered…where will you virtually vacation to?


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This next example comes to us from across the pond, HUN Wine was all set to launch and make a big splash utilizing the summer festival season and large-format experiential events. Needless to say, COVID-19 threw an unexpected wrench into those plans. So, what do you when the expected happens, you make lemonade out of lemons of course. HUN wine launched its brand via Out-Of-Home media knowing full well that the UK, along with the rest of the world was on lockdown and tailored their messaging accordingly. The cheeky tone provided some comical relief in uncertain times and certainly helped to pick up some earned media mentions along the way.


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Numerous brands not only pivoted their marketing messages but also remixed their logos to deliver and reinforce the “physical distancing” directive from health authorities. In the following campaigns, the sheer power of simplicity was clearly the order of the day to entice and to connect with the audiences.


There is one central theme that runs through the veins of all these campaigns and that’s the ability for brands to be more authentically human and to lead a little more from their hearts versus the head alone.


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