Brand messaging in the age of coronavirus, and Harris Diamond on working from home (globally): Thursday Wake-Up Call
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Give the people what they want
Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow has advice for brands talking to their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Understand what consumers really need right now and then [offer] that to them,” she tells Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz on this week’s episode of the Marketer’s Brief podcast. “Anything that you say is irrelevant right now. It’s really all about what you are doing.”
To that end, “alcohol brands are making hand sanitizers, Ford is partnering with 3M to make respirators and Unilever just announced it would spend $108 million on soap, sanitizer, bleach and food for charities,” Schultz writes. And Nike and the Gap are shifting factories to make masks and other personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, according to reporting by Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli.
Diamond, in the rough
Agency folks around the world are working from home and adjusting to new ways of collaborating, including those at McCann, which has mandated a work-from-home policy across the U.S. and most of its global offices. “We've seen people working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and we tell them they need to take a deep breath; there has to be a [work-life] balance,” Harris Diamond, CEO and chairman of McCann Worldgroup, tells Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. “We're recognizing the fact that people are working from home with significant others and roommates, and in ways no one ever expected. Having said that, our productivity is as high as it’s ever been.”
While COVID-19 continues to spread in the states, workers are back in the office in Shanghai and parts of Asia, Diamond says, which might give U.S. workers a glimpse of their own future once the crest of the disease has passed.
At the same time, clients are looking for guidance. “Most clients I'm talking to are asking what they should be saying and how they should be saying it,” Diamond adds. “If they are saying something, how do they make sure it's meaningful for consumers?”
Bernie burns McD's
Brands that fail to handle the coronavirus crisis with care risk the wrath of the public—and of public servants. After a McDonald’s location in Brazil changed its iconic logo by separating the Golden Arches as a nod to social distancing, backlash on social media prompted the brand to take the post down. U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders admonished the company on Twitter, calling on the fast feeder to “Give your workers paid sick leave.”
Ad buys are down across the board, but out-of-home media companies are particularly hard hit, as potential viewers hunker down at home. “There is no way to sugarcoat that demand is incredibly soft right now,” Matthew O'Connor, co-founder and CEO of AdQuick, tells Ad Age’s George Slefo. “Nobody wants to do a huge product push right now, so business is down and will continue to go down until things go back to normal.”
In the meantime, some brands “are moving forward with campaigns that couple traditional out-of-home advertising with public service announcements,” Slefo writes. One is Ro, which owns male-focused prescription delivery company Roman and released a social distancing billboard campaign with Wieden+Kennedy Portland.
Coronavirus hits breakfast where it lives: Beloved diner chain Waffle House is shutting down hundreds of locations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the status of a community’s Waffle House as an informal measure of severity of a disaster. And as of Wednesday afternoon, 418 of nearly 2,000 Waffle Houses from New Jersey to Texas were closed—50 more than just the day before.
Royal, flushed: The U.K.’s Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus. The 71-year-old heir to the British throne is in “good health,” reports the BBC, and is in isolation in Scotland. No word on whether his mother, 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, has been tested, but the two last saw each other, briefly, on March 12.
LIA MIA: The London International Awards is just the latest advertising accolade to bow out in the wake of coronavirus. The organization announced it is canceling its 2020 awards festival and the Creative LIAisons program. “We think it inappropriate to pretend the world is in a normal place and it is business as usual,” LIA said in a statement.
Isle of (no) dogs: Here’s a bit of good news: New York City is running low on adoptable dogs. Lonely, self-isolating city dwellers are snatching up the canines to keep them company, according to Bloomberg: “Muddy Paws Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society are reporting shelters they work with are either all out of or almost out of cats and dogs after a surge in applications of as much as 10-fold in the past two weeks.”
It’s not a nationwide phenomenon yet, though. Adopt a dog from Midwest Animal & Rescue Services and win some Busch beer.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call, thanks for reading and we hope you are all keeping safe and well.
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