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4 Brands That Showed Empathy For Customers During Pandemic

At the moment, there is some debate as to whether the pandemic is over. WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus recently told the Harvard Gazette that, “The pandemic is not over, but the end is in sight.” As fall kicks into gear, we will probably see pandemic numbers climb, but, barring a rogue variant’s appearance this winter, we can hope that this winter will look better than last winter.

Assuming that something close to the best-case scenario occurs, it’s worthwhile to take a look at how some brands used the right messaging during the pandemic to reassure consumers and express empathy during a difficult time.

Hotels.com. This travel brand appeared to be in a bind as the pandemic started, but Hotels.com released a smart ad in 2020 that showed the brand’s Captain Obvious sitting in a chair, eating popcorn and using hand sanitizer. The ad explained the Captain Obvious was going to be social distancing for while “and you should too.” The ad managed to offer a serious message replete with the brand’s offbeat humor.

Cottonelle. Remember the early days of the pandemic when there were toilet paper shortages? Cottonelle ran this ad reassuring customers that there would be enough toilet paper to go around, that the brand had partnered with United Way -- and reminded customers to please #ShareASquare.

Uber. Similar to Hotels.com, Uber ran an ad in April 2020 thanking consumers for not riding. The ad featured shots of people waving from windows and videoconferencing -- familiar sights to many Americans. The ad closed with the line “Stay home for everyone who can’t.”

Google. Google addressed the gamut of consumer concerns during the pandemic by noting what people were searching for (“quarantine,” “social distancing,” “lockdown”) and then noting how people were adjusting to coming out of the pandemic (by taking the “virtual” out of playdate and noting that theaters and restaurants were now open).

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