Monday, May 10, 2021

Marketing Tips from 3 Brands that Pivoted During the Pandemic


While the Covid Pandemic has thankfully taken a turn away from stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we must all continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Smart brands realize this and have pivoted and will continue to pivot because it’s not yet time for business to return to “pre-Covid normal.”

Which brands pivoted to stay in business during the height of the pandemic? Which brands stood out by pivoting? Which brands will be long remembered by their actions during the Covid pandemic? Which brands disappeared during the pandemic never to be seen again? 

Here are three brands that clearly explained why they pivoted – and their actions can teach all brands a thing or two.

On February 7, 2021, there were no Budweiser Clydesdales in Super Bowl ads. The company chose to apply its $5 million ad budget allocated for the big game toward covid vaccine awareness and education. In addition, Budweiser donated some of its advertising airtime during the rest of 2021 to the Ad Council and the Covid Collaborative’s Vaccine Education Initiative.

“Like everyone else, we are eager to get people back together, reopen restaurants and bars, and be able to gather to cheer with friends and family. To do this, and to bring consumers back into neighborhood bars and restaurants that were hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic, we’re stepping in to support critical awareness of the Covid-19 vaccine,” Monica Rustgi, Budweiser vice president of marketing, explained.

MARKETING TIP: Budweiser wanted to provide vaccine awareness and education.

Despite what seemed to this baseball fan like months of discussions, major league baseball executives unveiled a shortened season comprised of 60 games rather than the normal 162-game regular season. The intent was to provide a sense of normally in an incredibly crazy and difficult time to millions of people who were quarantined at home and wanted to watch the nation’s pastime. Of course, it did not hurt that this fan’s team won the World Series!

According to Wikipedia, “The 2020 Major League Baseball season began on July 23 and ended on September 27 with 60 games amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The full 162-game regular season was originally scheduled to begin on March 26. However, the pandemic caused Major League Baseball (MLB) to announce on March 12 that the remainder of spring training was canceled and that the start of the regular season would be delayed by at least two weeks On March 16, MLB announced that the season would be postponed indefinitely, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict events of more than 50 people. This was the first time that MLB games have been put on hold since the 2001 season, when the season was paused for over a week after the September 11 attacks.

On July 6, MLB released the revised schedule for the shortened 60-game season. The season started on July 23, with two games: New York Yankees at Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers. The remaining 26 teams opened the season on July 24. An expanded 16-team postseason tournament began on September 29, with games of all but the first round being played at neutral sites. The World Series began on October 20 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and ended on October 27, with the Los Angeles Dodgers defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win their first title since 1988.”

MARKETING TIP: MLB wanted to provide a sense of normalcy in a difficult time.

Once the pandemic started, the “Bear crew” at this company known for meticulously-designed, handcrafted teddy bears that are guaranteed for life since 1981 wondered how it could help.

According to its website, “We decided to put new Bear creation on hold and donate our supply of 620 surgical and N95 masks. (These masks protect our crew from breathing in fur and stuffing fibers as the bears are made.) The masks went to the Medical Countermeasures and Strategic National Stockpile, Division of Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Injury Prevention, Vermont Department of Health. Next on the list was to start making masks. A few of our crew volunteered to round up materials at our manufacturing facility to make kits for face mask creation (we stayed a safe distance apart!), and community members volunteered to start making masks from home. We have a network of over 150 at home sewers helping us! We have distributed over 14,000 masks to the City of Burlington, and they have all gone directly to essential workers. Our goal is to make 125,000 masks, enough to give 20% of Vermonters masks.”

MARKETING TIP: Vermont Teddy Bear Factory wanted to make an impact on the needs of local essential workers – and by thinking outside the box, used its factory, workers, and volunteers to create a much-needed commodity, face masks.

So, how can YOUR brand pivot, and what can it learn from these marketing tips?

Image Credits: Budweiser, MLB, and Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.

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