Crisis Creative Dos & Don’ts

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Wow, what a time to be alive! We’ve been busy the past month working in the trenches with our clients to ensure their creative campaigns land in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Along the way, we’ve come up with a few guidelines for pivoting creative. Here they are!

  • Don’t default to the generic “We’re here for you” message. True as it may be, you’re sailing head-on into a sea of sameness that’s already flooding inboxes everywhere.
  • Do find an authentic message at the three-way intersection of 1) your company’s expertise, 2) your brand’s existing identity, and 3) your community’s current needs. That’s where the bullseye is.

  • Don’t be afraid to be light-hearted. Humor is still performing well. Turns out people appreciate a well-warranted break from the apocalypse. If you can bring a needed smile to their life, do it. But…
  • Do temper things with what people are experiencing, and what aligns with your existing identity (e.g. now’s not the time for serious brands to get funny). As is often the case, the answers lie buried somewhere in the middle.

  • Don’t focus your creative on pushing product unless your product is particularly relevant right now… like ice cream, in times like this everyone needs ice cream.
  • Do angle messages more toward social responsibility and concrete ways your organization is responding, if you can… like customer care or relief programs or new tools and resources that can help people navigate these strange and uncertain times (you’re reading a real life example of this right now!).

  • Don’t delay your important, timely messages in the interest of high production value.
  • Do be willing to push creative with more of a DIY feel… audiences will appreciate seeing more of your authentic side right now. Stock or archival footage can also be used to get timely messages out quickly, especially while physical productions have essentially come to a halt.

That said…

  • Don’t rush out unvetted content. #obvi
  • Do take an extra look and get different perspectives to avoid costly misinterpretations. If in doubt, err on the safe side for now. (Take a screen grab of that, as it might be the only time you hear it from us 🙂

  • Don’t glorify social contact.
  • Do focus on aspects of your offering that are tech-enabled.

  • Don’t be like Spirit Airlines, who sent an email with the subject “Never a better time to fly.” Woof. (Although it is oddly on brand… ba-dum-tsschh 🥁)
  • Do draw inspiration from these examples, from brands that found their bullseye:

And lastly…

  • Don’t take all this as gospel. This is simply our current thinking based on recent conversations and insights, but the playbook is being added to daily and everyone is playing a degree of backyard football right now.
  • Do use any relevant or helpful tidbits here to kick-start ideas that help you thrive creatively amidst the chaos.

Good luck and stay safe!