Brands Are Really Getting the Hang of Pandemic Marketing

Aug 27 2020

These 5 campaigns show brands are getting creative during COVID, and making personalized marketing a must…

How do you market during a pandemic? Though many brands struggled to find the right tone in messaging when COVID-19 hit, we’ve seen more and more marketing success stories in recent weeks. We noted that brands were beginning to think outside the box to make social distance and experience marketing coexist—and this month the trend has taken off. Brands are getting creative during COVID by finding the light side of some of the restrictions that consumers are grappling with, bringing moments of joy into their worlds (and backyards), and making marketing personal. Here are five campaigns that show pandemic marketing can actually shine, and how brands can bring young consumers some doses of fun:

Blue Bunny Ice Screen Truck

Our exclusive Surviving COVID report found that other than discounts on products, the top things young consumers would appreciate from brands right now is reminders of positive things—and Blue Bunny Ice Cream is driving that positivity home for them. Literally. The brand’s “ice screen truck” is traveling across the country to entertain families, announcing on Instagram: “A summer without movies or ice cream trucks is boring. So we’re bringing them both to your driveway. Introducing the Blue Bunny Ice Screen Truck! A mobile movie theater packed with fun.” According to Adweek, the truck is making stops in several U.S. cities to pull into the driveways of two lucky winners every night for five days to host a movie night with a film of the winners’ choice on a giant screen. Ice cream, t-shirts, social distancing blankets, and masks will be provided to all attendees. The campaign is part of the brand’s efforts to market their new Load’d Cones and Load’d Sundaes products, which will be given out to the audience. Drive-ins have exploded in popularity this summer, as movie theaters continue to be avoided, and while several brands have played into the trend, Blue Bunny is making the experience personal and delivering multiple treats at the same time.

Dunkin’s RV Vacation

YPulse’s recent travel report found that 45% of 13-39-year-olds cancelled travel or a trip this summer—and to make up for it, they’re making road trips trend. Dunkin’ is playing into the hot summer vacation replacement with a campaign that sends winning customers on a road trip for a week in a brightly branded RV. Marketing Dive reports that to promote their new Dunkin’ Refreshers line of iced tea drinks, the donut and coffee chain created a branded RV donning its signature pink and orange colors on the outside, while the inside is decorated with “special Dunkin’-inspired décor and accessories.” As part of the campaign, they are running a contest to give customers a chance to win it for a week-long vacation in September. Interested contestants have to share their “road trip plan” as well as who is part of their “quarantine team” via Dunkin’s Instagram Stories using hashtag #DunkinRefreshSweepstakes. YPulse’s travel report also found that 85% of 13-39-year-olds are interested in road trips, while 30% are planning to go on one within the next year—there’s clearly room for other brands to play into the trend and help them get on the road (safely).

Natural Light Dorm from Home

Natural Light beer has made targeting college students their focus, and they’ve been finding ways to uniquely reach out to this struggling group during COVID. In April, they threw a virtual graduation for college seniors who missed out on the milestone in person due to quarantines, and in May they set out to hire a work-from-home marketing intern to help to support Gen Zs whose prospects are being impacted by the pandemic. Now, they’re coming to the rescue again for college students who are entering the fall semester remotely and need their own space. The brand’s “Dorm From Home” campaign is giving away a “dorm” (which looks like a very cool playhouse for grownups) that can be parked in the backyard. The brand explains, “Since college might look different this year, we’re bringing the experience to you. Post a photo showing us why you need your own space this semester using #DormFromHome.” According to Mobile Marketer the dorm comes tricked out with a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, gaming system, and $180 gift card to stock it up with Natural Light and (in the words of the beer brand) “Get Hype. At Home.”

Bumble & BABE’s Breakup Movers

YPulse’s After Corona trend research found that in early May, 10% of 24-34-year-olds had ended a relationship during quarantine—a stat that has likely only grown over time. For those couples breaking up during the pandemic, Bumble and BABE Wine have got their backs. The wine brand and women-first dating app teamed up to create a unique (fake) moving service and announce that they will pay for the moving costs for young people living with an ex during COVID. To win, Instagram users are asked to tag themselves on the “moving on” post on BABE’s @drinkbabe account, which explains “It’s not you, it’s them…and being stuck inside together for an actual decade. If you’re going through a breakup, you need B&B Movers. We help you do the moving out AND the moving on.” The brands will choose five winners who look like they’re “turning their breakup in a glow up.” According to Mobile Marketer, the “mock moving company” B&B Movers is promoting services like moving furniture, “removing all traces from an ex from a smartphone,” and tailoring Bumble profiles to “get back into the dating scene.”

Burger King’s Safe Order Masks

Burger King is letting young consumers print their orders on face masks. Throughout the pandemic Burger King has come up with clever and funny ways (like socially distanced paper crowns) to keep their customers safe during the COVID era. In their latest campaign, the Belgium branch is inviting 250 consumers to create “Safe Order Masks,” custom face masks with their orders printed on them so they don’t even have to speak when they go up to the counter or drive-thru window. Interested individuals can try to get their hands on the masks by commenting on the burger chain’s Facebook or Instagram posts. Though the campaign is taking place in Belgium, it has gotten a ton of attention in the media, and the idea clearly resonates. The campaign puts a lighthearted spin on a very current problem, and has fun with the mask requirement that so many are abiding by.