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Lightbox Loves: Marketer's COVID Guide

The last two years have proved to be a testing time for many, with COVID hampering both lives and business. As the world tears down many COVID restrictions, we dare hope that finally we’ve caught a break and can enjoy new normality. Here we take a look at how a brand who conquered this adversity successfully, and how you can make sure your brand can stand the test of any times. 

For many of us KFC is a household treat as succulent as any, but back in 2020 when the pandemic hit, the stuff of nightmares appeared reality when all KFC shops (amongst others) were forced to close. There were two marketing challenges for KFC to answer.  How to maintain brand salience with their doors closed and how to ensure customers would return once restaurants reopened? Difficult challenges indeed, which they passed with flying colours. The first POA was to create a unified global voice with the aid of the Pratfall effect. By blanking out their famous slogan: ‘It’s __ __ Good’ along with a public announcement campaign, which informed the mass: “that thing we’ve been saying over and over for the last three quarters of a century? Ignore it for now.” Replacing them with alternatives suggested from the public. This quickly grew attraction reaching over 2 billion impressions and an uplift of brand word of mouth by a significant 3,842%, week after the campaign. Which translated to 2% growth in global sales, or $8m in profits. Therefore, answering both challenges in an engaging and differentiating manner in what was a potentially difficult time for their business.

On the other hand, Corona had the opposite result, not due only to the difficulty that the pandemic brought (something all brands/ industry suffered from) rather due to tone-deaf marketing that proved detrimental in sales and the eye of the public. Outside from drawing the unluckiest straw with their name matching that of the virus, when their marketing team decided to go ahead with their new Corona Hard Seltzer launch with the tagline: “it’s another way to find your beach” seeming to encourage social gatherings right at the start of the pandemic, which was quickly associated with the “spring-breakers” who became “super-spreaders” of COVID-19. Thus, heavily damaging brand outlook and consideration. Unsurprisingly, an influx of negative comments made their way to the brands twitter page, with some calling the ad "in extremely poor taste" and imploring the company to "do better.“ Additionally, purchase intent dropped to the lowest its been in the 2 years prior and buzz fell from 75 at the beginning of Jan’21 to 51 by late Feb’21.

In an ever changing, fast paced world, we find ourselves needing to adapt quickly to respond to such types of events.  However the contrast of the two brand examples show that the best course of action when market trends change dramatically is for advertising and content marketing plans to follow suit, or risk finding themselves caught in a bother.