How marketing helped beat COVID-19

So, what did COVID-19 teach the marketing community? Easy - as a community we got to see the power of a single-minded message.


The big campaign – Unite against COVID-19

At yesterday’s Brainy Breakfast we got to celebrate the impressive work that Clemenger BBDO pulled together in record time to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does a marketing campaign persuade five million people to radically change their behavior and comply with strict lockdown rules that impact their personal freedom?

With the threat of serious illness, irrational toilet paper buying and fear for the future, it certainly wasn’t a task for the faint hearted. We were all there, and we all know it was a lot mentally to comprehend.

Brett Hoskin Managing Director and Linda Major Managing Partner & Director of Social Marketing from Clemenger BBDO knew exactly what they had to do to get the message out quickly. They defined what critical success looked like for the campaign and broke it down in to three areas - leadership, structure, and trust.

They then outlined the challenges the campaign faced so they knew exactly how to tackle the tasks ahead. And the challenges were immense - lack of time, uncertainty and lack of previous experience, immediate compliance needed en masse, competition for correct information, and most importantly speed and clarity.  

As a team they had just seven days to get this to market and decided they needed short sign off loops with all the right people in the room to make changes right there and then. And it turns out that the short time frame to pull it all together actually helped them to home in on creating clear, simple, easy-to-digest information. As they said, “a little less perfection can bring a whole lot more good”.

Empathy was also central to the campaign. People needed to know how to respond emotionally, so empathy was critical in helping to overcome anxiety. I think we can all agree that the results of the ‘Unite against COVID-19’ campaign show what an absolute success it was.

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What did the marketers think?

During the event we asked the audience - during lockdown, which element of the Government communications made it clear about what you had to do to stay safe? As you can see in the results, the team at Clemenger did well to construct an integrated campaign that got the single-minded message through to the target audience - all of New Zealand.

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Clemenger BBDO was even approached by other agency’s overseas to mimic the look, feel and messaging of the campaign.


How did Kiwis feel?

We also had the pleasure of hearing from Colleen Ryan from the insights agency, TRA. During the pandemic, her team stood up a platform that monitored conversations about how Kiwis are feeling during times of uncertainty. What we learnt is that Kiwis are proud to be from New Zealand. Even more so post lockdown. The pandemic has unified us even more as a country.

So what does this insight mean for your brand for the remainder of 2020?
Kiwis are still dealing with the mental side of going through a pandemic. They’re looking for optimism as we enter into what might be one of the worst recessions we’ll go through as a country. Colleen discussed that we often use humor to contextualise what’s happening around us.

Three clear themes came through from the research – 1) pride in New Zealand, 2) Kiwi sense of connection, and 3) Kiwi values and brand behaviours. Her advice for marketers was to take these themes and bring some energy back into our marketing, as there’s a desire from the New Zealand public to get things moving again.

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Colleen then congratulated Clemenger BBDO on the work they did. She said that as marketers we need to take away what clarity in a single-minded message can achieve. Clemenger demonstrated what ease of communication should look like. No matter how many touch points you have, target markets, social media posts – the communication with the customer should be easy.

And finally, as a positive from this crazy time, Clemenger pointed out that never before has advertising been deemed an essential service!

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