Commercials Winning Due to Authenticity and Human Connection

Michaela Markley Picture

by Michaela Markley | Last Updated: May 12, 2020

Let’s be honest, it has been a strange couple of weeks to market, advertise, and try to sell anything during this worldwide pandemic. As a company, you could be called out for being too deaf to the situation, for being too lighthearted during such a tragic time, or for advertising/trying to sell at all. You are never going to make everyone happy - and to be honest, you have to be okay with that. Right now the best thing we can do as marketers is to respond to this situation authentically and with human connection at its core and it will resonate with your audience. As I went to write this blog about some of my favorite ads during COVID-19, I came across articles that criticized brands… And I think we may be being a little too hard on some companies accusing them of fabricating or having a false pretense for an ad. For example, an article called out Frito-Lay for creating an anti-brand COVID-19 ad. When watching the ad, I understand where the author was coming from but I also think Frito-Lay is trying to not be tone-deaf. It’s an era of marketing that no one has been a part of and we are all just trying to figure it out. To bring some light into this marketing world during this crazy time, I wanted to call-on some brands that have made me laugh, cry, and want to share their marketing efforts. Burger King’s Couch Potatriot Okay, so whoever came up with this one is brilliant. I had to laugh at the play on words but also the irony. During this pandemic, it truly has been ALL of our responsibilities who are not on the frontlines or deemed an essential worker to stay inside. When Burger King found a way to incorporate the act of patriotism to staying at home - genius. I understand the negative feedback to this ad - during WWII our brothers, fathers, grandfathers, and many others had to put their lives on the line to fight for our country. 100 percent agree. But I don’t think every hero has to stand on the front line and Burger King helped remind us of that. Guinness Cheers and Doner Connects Us When it comes to content that has almost drawn a tear from my eye. (I was working in the same room as my husband so I couldn’t actually let myself cry.) I have seen two commercials that have really pulled at my heartstrings for the longing of social interaction yet being #AloneTogether. Guinness was one of the first brands to come out and tackle COVID-19 head-on with an ad that called out the pandemic - “We Will Toast Again”. After watching this ad I wanted to pour myself a Guinness and cheers in isolation to future cheers with friends and family. Then there is Doner. You may be asking who or what is Doner - because same. I had no idea who they were at first but I know them now. Doner is an ad agency in Detroit, MI who created the “Even when the motor stops, the spirit continues” ad for the city of Detroit. There were a few lines in this ad that connect us all and remind us we are all in this together. “These vacant streets and empty stadiums are not signs of our retreat but of our resolve… Because here we don’t stop in the name of fear. Here, we stop in the name of love.” The entire minute and fifteen-second video is filled with a narrative that voices what we are all thinking but balances it with the courage and strength that we all have to persevere through to come out stronger than before. We are not in this alone. But we are #AloneTogether. Take time to find the true and authentic voice of your brand during this time. That is what we are all looking for as consumers. And how can the authenticity live through the pandemic and beyond? Because let’s face it, marketing is changing and will change for good. And might I say - even possibly for the better. Our consumers want us to be bold and honest and show there are humans on the other side of ads and campaigns being run. Let’s show our consumers we can create truly authentic content that resonates with them as humans. As marketers, Americans, and human-beings - we are #AloneTogether.

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