These are strange and uncertain times.

By the time COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11th, 2020, the novel coronavirus had infected over 118,000 people and killed close to 4,300 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

As at April 13th, COVID-19 had infected 1,857,315 and killed 114,358 people worldwide.

However, it’s not all gloom folks, as 428,732 people have recovered from the novel virus. And a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle.

However, in difficult times like this, brands need to step up to the plate. Their consumers need support, reassurance, and in some cases, entertainment while we fight this invisible enemy.

In group or tribal dynamics, one of the easiest times to build loyalty is during adversity. And this is no different for brands.

Brands that are seen as empathetic, responsible and supportive during periods like this are able to easily build emotional connections and trust with their consumers that will last beyond the current climate.

However, as Toluwalase of R&B PR posits in his brilliant article, “When the coronavirus pandemic blows over, one thing is sure, consumers will remember brands that connected with them in these trying times with intermittent but relevant messaging.”

It’s a delicate balance.

But the key adjective here is “RELEVANT”. And as we all know, developing relevant messaging requires compelling consumer insights that are resonant with your target audience.

So, I decided to curate a list of some of the most impressive, hard hitting and simply brilliant content brands have put other there to educate, encourage and entertain its consumers.

Let’s start with the global brands…

Nike’s “Play for the world”

Here, Nike uses a combination of star power and a deep understanding of its consumer base to ask people to practice social distancing as the world battles to control the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a simple but effective campaign, built around a consumer insight that not only resonates with every aspiring sportsman and woman, but anyone who understands the basic tenets of sports and teamwork.

Volvo’s “Stay safe”

Born in 1927, the Swedish automaker is synonymous with the word safety. Here, with one sentence, the automaker builds on its brand purpose to deliver a Public Service Announcement (PSA) – Stay Home, Stay Safe.

South African Airways’ “SA will travel again”

South African Airways might be going through some torrid times financially, but they do know how to tell a good story.

The #SAWillTravelAgain does hit the right touchpoints and is a great way to sign off as the world goes on an enforced travel break.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

The Guinness ad that wasn’t done by Guinness. Created by freelance copywriter Luke O’Reilly, it’s a creative masterpiece aimed at keeping people quarantined at home rather than out spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Coca Cola Company

I have been a Coca Cola fan boy most of my marketing career, and they definitely don’t disappoint me here – well you can say I am biased.

But you would agree with me that this is as simple as it gets, both from an imagery and copy perspective. The company has also put a freeze to its marketing spend globally.

Budweiser’s “One Team”

The global giant released this beautiful ad to promote its move to use $5 million of its sports and entertainment marketing budget to support the American Red Cross in the fight against the pandemic.

I love how they used sport terms to show support for our HEROES on the front lines.

Zulu Alpha Kilo’s “STAY HOME CANADA”

This ad by the Canadian digital agency – Zulu Alpha Kilo – is quite interesting. They simply tweaked the essence of the Canadian flag to suit the times.

Ikea Spain’s “I Stay Home”

Creativity knows no bounds when paired with a deep consumer insight. IKEA Spain uses this short video to encourage us to look at the enforced lock-down from a different perspective – your home also needs some attention.

Mercedes Benz’s “Hands best if frequently washed”

Mercedes Benz has dedicated their Instagram feed to a series of educative short videos and images. The best part – the ads still subtly promote the brand.

Fly Emirates’ “Do you remember”

This ad by Fly Emirates is intense and left me a tad emotional. It calls our attention to the things we have taken for granted (if you haven’t, I did), and rounds it up with a message of hope.

The ad comes at a time when Fly Emirates has grounded its entire fleet, and most of global aviation has shut down or are running skeletal services at best.

In Nigeria, our brands have also reacted strongly, albeit a bit more focused on rehashing educational content.

Here are a couple of standout messages from Nigerian brands.

9mobile’s “dab WHen you sneeze”

Here, 9mobile Nigeria took a popular dance move and used it to teach the proper way to protect others when you sneeze. Simple copy, and an image that passes on the message with little or no ambiguity.

Sterling Bank’s “COVID-19 invasion game”

Sterling Bank has been in the news with some great social content campaigns in recent times. In similar style, they launched an online game that educates Nigerians on the ongoing pandemic and how to stay safe.

Closeup Nigeria’s Public service announcement

Closeup Nigeria uses a short but relevant video to share fun but creative ways to stay close without being close.

Leadway Assurance’s “Go Home”

In my opinion, this was the best PSA by a Nigerian brand. The message and visual were simple and straight to the point – “Go Home, Stay Home”.

Budweiser Nigeria’s “Buds from a distance”

Team Budweiser Nigeria wasn’t also left out.

It’s “Buds from a Distance” video was a great way to help educate its community on the importance of staying at home and flattening the curve.

NITRO 121’s “HAppy Easter”

Had to update the article for this brilliant Happy Easter + COVID-19 PSA by Nitro 121. Sir Lampe Omoyele and team used some creative storytelling to deliver an important message here – Happy Easter, but don’t forget to stay safe.

Final Thoughts

One question that I haven’t been able to answer is what’s the role of the Internet versus Traditional advertising for brands seeking to respond?

But as Kelechi Nwosu, MD, TBWA Nigeria puts it – For many brands , a strict or only internet or digital response will not carry as much weight as a response that goes across traditional and internet channels.

Finally…

You are probably wondering why we only have five Nigerian brands here? Especially considering the number of ads you have probably seen in recent times.

Yes, our brands have done quite some work, but most of it has been either rehashing the World Health Organization and Africa’s Center for Disease Control’s safety messages or donating money (this is a topic for another day).

The main premise of this article has been to highlight brilliant messaging based of relevant consumer insights.

Disagree?

Let me know what other Nigerian brands that you feel should be on this list.

If you’d like to receive updates whenever I write, you can join my newsletter –  Dozie’s Weekly Digest. You can use the unsubscribe link in those e-mails to opt out at any time.

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