Pandemic Pivot

The Top 5 Advertising-in-a-Pandemic Pivots

With the aggressive spread of COVID-19, brands the world over found themselves facing an unprecedented question: how do you adapt your marketing strategy to a global pandemic? Without a blueprint of any kind to guide them, businesses who have pivoted successfully have done so by placing the customer’s needs at the heart of every decision. “What do our customers need right now?” and “How can we make their lives better?” are the two questions smart brands are asking themselves. 

Here are five of our top favorite pivots (plus one to grow on).

#5: Madewell

Not everyone needs (or can afford) to buy new clothes right now, but we could all use a little more self-care. Madewell recognized this and adapted their emails to include more than just products and promotions. From skincare masks you can DIY at home to playlists that give you a mental vacation, Madewell tried to offer customers a respite from stress in the form of (free) ways to look after yourself. This kind of added value invites goodwill and keeps customers loyal.

#4: Girlboss

In mid-April, Girlboss, an online community of professional millennial women, launched a new content series focused on all things lockdown. The Girlboss Guide to Now included five days of tips, resources and support for community members coping with a variety of COVID-related challenges. They shared videos, Q+A and other content about topics like pivoting to a new career and tightening up finances, doing their best to inspire their followers during uncertain times.

#3: Lunya

Luxe pajama maker Lunya used the idea of being at home—their forte, of course—as a jumping off point to peek into their own homes. They got real about lockdown in blog posts about their employees’ quarantine life and sought to lift up their audience with #sharealittlehope, where each use of the hashtag triggered a donation to COVID-related job retraining. Between fancy pajamas and a hashtag of feel-good posts, we couldn’t help but feel a little better.

#2: Visa

Poised to launch a massive campaign ahead of the summer Olympics, Visa hit pause and instead rolled out  “Do Your Part Like an Olympian,” a series of social media videos that show Olympic athletes adapting to lockdown by working out at home—and using hand sanitizer. Using a tactic many would eventually follow, the athletes did the filming themselves on their phones. 

#1: Apple

A master class in how to showcase features and benefits without being sales-y, Apple addressed the many challenges of WFH with humor and compassion in The whole working from home thing. Picking up where last year’s The Underdogs left off, they reflected back to us what it’s really like to collaborate at a distance. The narrative is both entertaining and authentic, and it shows off Apple’s entire ecosystem of products beautifully—and leaves viewers hoping for a third installment. 

Bonus: Chipotle

At Hunt, Gather, we hustled to help long-time client Chipotle roll out a number of customer-centric programs, starting with Delivery Kitchen. To address early concerns about the safety of takeout and delivery, they created a kitchen-within-a-kitchen solely dedicated to to-go orders, with extra protective measures. In July, we supported the launch of Farmers Market where consumers can buy direct from Chipotle farmers. Customers get access to sustainably-raised food, farmers get access to new customers and Chipotle gets to live and breathe its commitment to sustainability and transparency in new ways, even in the midst of a global pandemic.