Brands in lockdown

Brands in lockdown

Brands in lockdown

It has been said that a person’s personality is best judged when the chips are down. And so the same applies to brands. 

Is marketing insensitive at this time? 

I saw a Facebook post suggesting that it was insensitive to advertise right now. Not sure that I get that entirely. If that person was living in the shoes of an executive trying to not only keep a company afloat but also remain top-of-mind and relevant, I am sure they might sing a different tune. So no, it is not insensitive if it is relevant and connects with what your audience is going through. 

Brands stepping up. 
Some brands are really stepping up in these troubled times. DoubleTree, a US hotel chain, is famous for the choc chip cookies served at check-in. In fact, the recipe was a closely guarded corporate secret. Many visitors have tried in vain to replicate choc chips at home. DoubleTree decided to share the recipe to the world. Nike made their subscription to the Nike Training app free so that anybody can benefit from streaming workouts, training programmes and tips while they’re stuck at home. And Disney launched a cool The Dark Lord campaign: “Wear this mask to transform into the ultimate ruler of the empire. Use your force to choke the invisible enemy from 6 feet afar”. L’ Oreal is making sizeable donations and supplying hand sanitisers among others. It is however their empathy with their stakeholders where their brand values are most evident. L’Oreal is freezing payments from hair salons and smaller perfume shops. They are also shortening the payment period to suppliers, often making immediate payment. They’re building brand loyalty. 

Closer to home. 
Our local economy was fragile even before lockdown so, apart from relief funds from 3 or 4 moguls, we’re not seeing much largesse from the big brands although the salary sacrifices from executives to the Solidarity Fund are commendable. Noteworthy is Tiger Brand’s commitment to continue with their programme of feeding 77 000 children, 30 000 community beneficiaries and 4500 university students. 

How inspiring is Nando’s “Your place, not ours (for now) ..:” on YouTube. Goosebumps! 

Nando’s never miss a beat to be relevant but perhaps South African companies overall are a little reticent to present what they are doing during this crisis. Done correctly, it gives your brand new meaning. 

Closer to the bone. 
On the other side of the scale, we’re seeing some of SA’s retail icons applying the force majeure clause, leaving many SMME’s and larger companies scrambling (or even scrambled). This drastic step may well be unavoidable for some but it is a brand fail nonetheless, pointing to the fragility of some household names.  

Some of Sherpa’s clients have certainly stretched to another level in these short weeks. We received a force majeure letter from one of SA’s larger companies operating in a troubled sector, aggravated by COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, we got a call from another division of that group (operating in a vibrant sector) about some work they’d like us to do. What does this say about their brand and company values? I will never forget this – I will admit to feeling emotional when thinking about it. Then we’ve seen a software client in the medical sector launch a remote video consulting platform (complete with a remote waiting room) free of fees so that doctors can serve their patients in a safe and professional environment. And one of SA’s top award-winning craft gins reached out to couples who had the disappointment of cancelling their wedding celebrations. One company in the financial services sector certainly showed their mettle. A high-end corporate and specialised finance team was willing to help small businesses looking for advice as they faced challenges never dreamed of before. For small businesses, the difference between making it and disappearing can often come down to a few minutes of expert input. What does this say about these brands standing out when the chips are down? 

You see, although people soon forget what they’ve seen or heard, they’ll never forget how you made them feel. 

Gary Hendrickse 
CEO Sherpa 
+27 (0) 83 677 7342. 

If you would like to use me as a sounding board, drop me a line or give me a call.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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