By Daniel Crocker, Account Executive
The pandemic has been a unique moment for companies. Many brands temporarily cut advertising due to the expected loss in revenue and an uncertain economic outlook. Yet, some kept pushing forward and adjusted their campaigns and messaging, often choosing to go the basic route: soft piano music, camera shots of people stuck inside, and a common message followed by “we are all in this together.” Most consumers see right through these ads; they lack creativity, and if anything, it makes you feel sadder.
Other brands decided to push the status quo for crisis advertising. They used it as an opportunity to not just empathize with the feeling of sadness and isolation, but to unite consumers by displaying qualities of community and perseverance through their messaging. The following spots are a prime example of this, and will leave you feeling encouraged, hopeful, and fired up.
#1 - Bud Light "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"
Bud Light knocked it out of the park with this ad. All sports fans know the feeling of having their team’s season come to an abrupt halt, but with the return of baseball, Bud Light wanted to capitalize. Bud Light wanted to reignite the passion Americans have for sports and chose to focus on the return of baseball to highlight this feeling. The use of the classic baseball song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game'' is also ingenious because even if you do not love baseball you are still familiar with the song. I liked how it depicted very regular people acting and singing in the spot because they had imperfect and hilarious singing voices, and it made me think of myself singing in my own home. This worked well because by the end you are mostly thinking about the return of sports, but the subtle product placement of Bud Light reminds you to incorporate a beer or a seltzer with this activity in an unobtrusive way.
#2 - Amazon "The Show Must Go On"
After Bud Light, Amazon follows in second with this surprisingly touching ad. This spot was an unexpected one because it had so much heart for a company like Amazon, which is generally thought to be a giant and soulless corporation that just wants to take our money. The ad was incredible for two main reasons. First, the production value was out of this world; the whole thing feels much more like a short story or mini-film than a commercial. Second, the spot nails an emotion that everyone was experiencing in March of 2020, the feeling of having something you were looking forward to being stolen from you. Whether it was a big trip, a new job, graduation, or a ballet recital, almost everyone had some devastating news. Seeing the girl’s family rally their community together to create a mini-performance for her in their apartment courtyard is a touching scene and shows consumers the power of community.
#3 - Nike "You Can't Stop Us"
And coming in at third place is Nike. I will admit that the ad follows the typical inspiration ad formula with a mix of different shots, background music to set the tone, and a narrator saying inspirational things. However, I think the subtle creative techniques make this ad stand out. The use of a split-screen that combined two different athletes doing the same motion was also an incredibly creative way of representing community and camaraderie, showing athletes doing the same motion together. I liked how the story was about all athletes everywhere, instead of focusing on one main character or person. Nike used great imagery to show how we may be feeling down temporarily, but as athletes, we are built and trained to keep going even when the future seems uncertain. The tagline “You Can’t Stop Us” at the end is excellent because it takes the “unstoppable” and “go-getter” attitude that Nike has constantly voiced and applies it to the current challenge, a worldwide pandemic.
Any company can make decent advertising during a strong economy and upbeat times, but a great brand knows how to resonate with audiences even when times get tough. Bud Light, Amazon, and Nike capitalized on an opportunity that most companies passed up on because they were afraid of spending money, and that is why they are some of the most successful and recognizable brands in America.