How brands can act as social distance advocates

Following the UN’s global call to creatives to help generate meaningful communications in the fight against COVID-19, it’s now paramount that brands create powerful messaging. And I’m not just talking about the NHS; all businesses can use their reach to humanise the message we’ve heard time and time again – stay at home and save lives.

This is no doubt a confusing time for all of us. And that’s no different for brands. If you find yourself wondering about how to do your bit while keeping some normality during the current climate, likelihood is so are they. However, just like us, they have a vital role to play in this fight and people expect them to step up. So, while increasing levels of government-imposed lockdowns are making some people stir-crazy, it’s equally been sending creatives to the drawing board. Here are some of the most successful adverts in advocating social distancing and staying at home.

Nike: Play Inside, Play for the World

After Nike announced that they will be donating more than $15 millionto support COVID-19 response efforts, they released on social media their new message “Play inside, play for the world”. The post also conveniently coincides with their announcement that premium programming on their Nike Training Club app is now accessible to all users free of charge. Featuring streamed workouts, ‘equipment-free’ training programs and useful tips from Nike experts, the app is the perfect solution for those who haven’t yet given up on their fitness dreams.Despite major sports being out of action for the foreseeable future, it’s clear that Nike won’t be sitting on the side lines. By fostering courage and optimism, Nike offers a positive outlook on practicing sport at home. While athletes might not be able to play together or in front of millions of fans, they can play for something bigger – the world’s safety. At the end of the day, and whether we like it or not, we are all on the same team.

Chiquita: #stayhome

Chiquita Bananas has gone a step further and temporarily redesigned its logo in response to the pandemic. Normally featuring the Miss Chiquita mascot, an Instagram post showed Miss Chiquita missing, captioned”I’m already home. Please do the same and protect yourself. #stayhome”. Since then the hashtag has gained significant popularity on Instagram, creating a community of #stayhome advocates. By temporarily getting rid of their treasured mascot – a huge part of their visual brand and a much-loved symbol among consumers – Chiquita demonstrates how we are in unprecedented times and must take social distancing extremely seriously if it is to have the desired effect. Think of it this way – if Chiquita isn’t leaving the house to run her beloved business, then maybe you should rethink that non-essential trip for a pack of biscuits. 

Coca-Cola: Staying Apart is the Best Way to Stay United

Last but not least, Coca-Coca has split its staple logo apart, projecting the new separated logo in Times Square with the slogan “staying apart is the best way to stay united”. A visual embodiment of the brand’s celebration of togetherness and love, the logo is normally written in tightly connected Spencerian script. However, while not employing the usual imagery of friends and family sharing a Coke, the company manages to stay true to its message by in fact encouraging the opposite behaviour. Whether it’s through the subtle symbolism of their new ‘separated logo’ or the explicit messaging in the slogan, Coca-Cola’s call to action is clear: stay at home to best protect your loved ones. And they’ve put their money where their mouth is, pledging to donate a total of $13.5 million in grants to 5 non-profit organisations involved in easing the pandemic. 

However, with the success stories also come a fair few car crashes. McDonalds Brazil recently faced backlash for separating its arches, provoking people to take to the internet to label it as an insensitive PR stunt given that they don’t even pay their workers a proper living wage. Evidently, it’s an opportunity to showcase brand values – make a proactive effort in fighting the pandemic and brands can increase brand loyalty and gain a wider audience to spread their ‘social distancing’ message. Fail to do so and it could be a repeat of McDonalds’ empty promise.

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