Effective Creative During the Pandemic

Effective Creative During the Pandemic

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By: Keith Otter, Chief Creative Officer

In the same way we knew how important it was to wash our hands before the pandemic — and of course, we were all doing it for at least 20 seconds back then, too — now, we really, really realize just how essential it is to wash our hands. The same applies to the fundamentals of marketing. We should have been using them before, but now it’s essential that we stick to these basics, giving you the opportunity to not only survive, but to also thrive.

Four foundations you must stick to even in the midst of the madness.

Stay on brand. You’ve spent time, money and effort establishing your brand, so don’t change your direction on a whim. Clarity and reassurance are what consumers are looking for today, so stick with it — it’ll pay dividends in the end.

Be single minded. People are now being bombarded with even more messages and they’re even more confusing than they were before, so be sure your message remains clear and concise. Don’t add to the noise. Now, more than ever, is the time to communicate simply.

Have a big idea. This is the foundation of everything you do. Have a big, simple, media-neutral idea that drives all of your communications. Otherwise, you’re just putting lipstick on a pig.

Disrupt. To make sure people see your message, be different from the others. If everyone else is zigging, choose to zag. Get people sharing, talking, tweeting — be seen and get noticed.

Each of these will help keep you on the right track to great success.

Six principles to help you communicate during this time.

Engage people. Provide content that is interactive and prompts the consumer to do something.

Elevate your followers. There’s a subtle distinction between focusing on a collective perspective rather than an individual perspective. “We’re in this together,” messaging is going further than, “Going to war,” messaging. It is important to bring people together and elevate society as a whole. Burger King literally elevated their followers all while staying on brand and acknowledging the situation.

Create moments. Hours and days are blending together, so moments help solidify memories. Uncle Ben’s not only stayed on brand, but they also tugged at the emotions of special moments while avoiding the cliches.


Be stupid. Providing humor during this time can be a great source of relief. This type of messaging is rare right now, so if it’s something your brand can step into, take advantage. The National Cowboy Museum let their Head of Security take over their social media and his intentionally silly posts have gone viral.

The Snickers commercial from the Super Bowl also has a whole new relevance particularly with the fall of influencers.


Aspirational. Be uplifting and focus on higher ideals. Any time you can associate positivity with your brand, that’s a win. Dove stuck to their brand, kept it simple and clearly shared their big idea with their latest aspirational spot.

Avoid cliches. All marketing content suddenly aligns with one another, and it’s getting old. Since so much video content is being viewed, the wear time on ads is quicker than usual. Show, don’t tell and do more than separating your logo. We know how to wash our hands and social distance, so levity would be great.

How do we produce ads during a time where there are limited resources, time and budget?

Six ways to continue ad production.

Use what you’ve got. Repurposing footage and existing creative with new messaging. Alabama Tourism recently released a new spot sharing a new message by using existing footage, emotional music and overlaid text.

Make the most of things. Use the tools you have at our disposal – we all have phones with cameras, Zoom, etc. Consumers are more forgiving during these times when it comes to production, but they want to see that you’re making an effort to communicate with them.

Use existing imagery. There’s no shame in using stock photos and videos to continue to share your message. You can still create something powerful while being cost-effective.

Use user-generated content. There are thousands of people out there who can and are creating content as we speak. It’s out there, and once you find it, it can be stronger than your own message may have been.

Animation. This doesn’t have to be crazy complex animation, but instead something you can turn around in a few days, still be strong and continue to be cost-effective.

Use simple illustration and typography. Graphics and static images either online, in print or direct mail can be effective.

Above all, have a big idea and stick to it.

So keep communicating, be creative and think smart. We will make it through this together! For more, check out our webinar on Strategic Spending and Effective Creative During Uncertain Times.