Brands Find New Ways To Communicate Value

Chris WrenAugust 5, 20207823 min

As we get used to living with a global pandemic and the resulting economic fallout, brands and advertisers are changing the way they communicate with customers in our ‘new normal.’ In their COVID-updated trends report, JWT Intelligence says, “Hugs and handshakes are out. Finger-licking too. And with half the world in lockdown, standard backdrops for advertising—sporting events, busy streets, family reunions, holidays—now seem off-key, if not downright dangerous.”

How long will this last? A survey conducted in March in the US found that some of our new behaviors; face masks, the “elbow bump” in place of a handshake, social distancing… all might be with us for a while. Some of the survey’s highlights:

  • 70% of those surveyed expect to go back to frequenting restaurants, movie theaters and sporting and cultural events
  • 35% say they expect avoiding hugs to become the new normal
  • 36% expect to continue social distancing
  • 41% do not expect to go back to kissing someone on the cheek by way of greeting
  • 43% do not expect to resume shaking hands

Great brands meet customers where they are. And right now, they are in a world that is less oriented around touch and social gatherings. There is increased emphasis on home and digital life, cleanliness and personal responsibility in helping the globe overcome the pandemic. Some brands are showing us how to adapt in a way that reflects customers’ realities.

Heineken has a long history of being a responsible brand. The brand has used its world-famous creativity to develop campaigns such as ‘Enjoy Heineken Responsibly’ and ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ that had demonstrated impact. With bars being hit particularly hard by the pandemic, Heineken launched a “Back to the Bars” campaign as part of a broader global initiative to #socializeresponsibily.

The global campaign is part of a larger plan to support the Hotel/Restaurant/Catering sector by celebrating re-openings in a way that reminds people to behave responsibly. It seems that by respecting safety regulations in our “new normal”, people will be able to help bars to remain open and therefore will be able to continue to enjoy nights out with friends. (Here in Seattle, bars are still not open.) The engaging call to action is ‘socialize responsibly to keep bars open.’

The Rising Value Of User Generated Content

Back in March, Jack Daniel’s released an ad called “With Love, Jack” which highlighted the power of the human spirit to find new ways of staying connected. Speaking to The Drum, Matt Blevins, Jack Daniels’ Global Brand Director says, “Showcasing how our friends around the world are rallying and uniting together during these times was our goal. It was about capturing real moments that are helping folks find social connection, which is something Jack Daniel’s celebrates.”

The Jack Daniel’s spot also highlights what could be a powerful renewed trend around user-generated content. For professionals who’ve been working from home, and parents who have been home-schooling their kinds via endless Zoom meetings, our expectations around polished, professional content have likely declined, creating new opportunities. With Hollywood struggling to come back to normal, some suggest that creators are increasingly looking to user-generated content as filming is either paused or difficult and live events are canceled. As Sam Blake writes, “Audiences and entertainers are hungry to connect online, and to engage with each other in an authentic way.”

Major cultural events require brands to listen and pay attention to signals that might be ignored when the status quo is working just fine. It’s a time for creatives and business leaders to co-create new strategies that allow the brand to thrive by meeting customers where they are.

The Blake Project Can Help: Align your content initiatives with the fundamentals of your brand in the Content Strategy Workshop

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