With the COVID 19 Pandemic growing at an alarming rate, it seems companies are shifting their marketing dollars, originally intended to increase sales, to messages of assistance and community support. There are shining examples of companies “coming out of the woodwork” and showing us a side to them we’ve not seen, at least not in recent history. It goes without saying that this move by brands, to show their softer, selfless sides, is a refreshing way to “give back” to our communities and show they value us as consumers and want us to be safe!
Phases of Brand Management During the Crisis
There are appear to be 3 main phases with regard to brand responses to the current pandemic as follows:
- Crisis Management – This step recognizes the decrease in staff, revenue and cash flow. The government officials, companies and communities are focused on slowing the spread of the virus by participating in “Social Distancing” and exercising enhanced hygiene practices.
- Recovery – This step will focus on navigating the new normal once the threat has declined. Stabilizing cash flow and protecting the system against further declines either due to unforeseen or a resurgence of known issues.
- Revival – Lastly, the revival step will be about thriving in the new normal. Perhaps even releasing promotional marketing materials. The recognition that the worst is far behind us and recapturing the pre-crisis positive brand sentiment.
There is definitely a delicate balance in being sensitive to the plight of consumers, but also have businesses to run. Forbes defines brand responses in four main phases as seen in Figure 1. (Wunker, 2020)
These Companies are Getting it Right
Different areas of the country and the globe may be in different stages as described previously. However, my heart is warmed at the responses from companies around the world. A few examples include:
- McDonalds – Some franchisees have opened up their unused parking lots to blood donations. Others have allowed their underutilized staff to come to work with sewing machines and create masks. The McDonalds corporation itself donated 1 million masks for use by healthcare workers and first responders. (DeBiase & Gonda, 2020)
- Anheuser-Busch – Tweeted about their commitment to repurposing some of their equipment and logistics to produce hand-sanitizer.
- Miller Lite and Jameson– Tweeted trending hashtags, #virtualTipJar and #LoveThyBartender to raise money for out of work Bartenders.
- Kraft Heinz Co. – In response to the increased demand for grocery store’s supplies, donated $12 million in cash and food to assist plant workers who are meeting the call to increase food production. (Christie, 2020)
There has been some negative Social Media chatter about the authenticity of some of these efforts of popular brands. Do you think these companies are doing the right thing or simply performing “publicity stunts”?
- Christie, T. (2020, March 24). Brands Helping Out During Coronavirus Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.socialbakers.com/blog/brands-helping-out-during-coronavirus-crisis
- DeBiase, F., & Gonda, M. (2020, April 6). McDonald’s Donating 1 Million Masks to Chicago and the State of Illinois. Retrieved from https://news.mcdonalds.com/news-releases/news-release-details/mcdonalds-donating-1-million-masks-chicago-and-state-illinois
- Wunker, S. (2020, April 5). Business Strategy Through Four Phases Of The Coronavirus Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenwunker/2020/03/23/business-strategy-through-four-phases-of-the-coronavirus-crisis/#2f38bf0113ae