7 Brands That Are Taking Action In The COVID-19 Crisis

Simon Pilkington

March 18, 2020

Simon Pilkington

March 18, 2020

As we batten down the hatches for what looks like at least a few weeks of social isolation and uncertainty, some brands are calming our nerves by taking action.

In a series of articles over the coming weeks, we’ll be offering guidance to brands on how to practically face up to these unprecedented marketing challenges.

To kick things off we’ll be looking at examples of brands that have taken a quick response to the crisis. From kicking off community action, to delicately balancing sincerity with a sense of humour, take inspiration from these examples of creative marketing strategy under pressure.

LUSH - Free Handwashing In Retail Stores

British natural soaps and cosmetics brand Lush cleverly opened their retail stores to local shoppers to wash their hands using their products free of charge.

This strategy is a perfect marriage of positive community action and smart marketing to get potential customers handling the products.  There’s no obligation to buy, but with beautifully presented products surrounding clearly marked hand-washing stations, we would be surprised if they don’t move a few extra bars of soap.

Lush has also recently decentralised much of their social media activity, focussing on social presences in local communities (for example the individual store accounts) rather than statements from head office.  Giving their branches freedom to come up with this kind of idea as part of a localised social strategy can be a great way to generate ideas for campaigns to roll out across all stores. Many companies are taking this kind of approach and even offering awards for the best social presence of all their managed retail stores.

McDonalds - “A Message From Our CEO”

American hamburger megalith McDonalds show their experience in dealing with large scale health and safety issues.  With plenty of practice runs in crisis management such as dealing with BSE a.k.a. “Mad Cow Disease” (how’s that name for a PR disaster?) in the late 1990’s, the company had no hesitation in issuing a clear statement from the top.

What stands out about their statement is its clarity in creating reassurance for consumers and staff.  They announce the new hygiene measures being put in place, but are careful to draw attention to the high standard of existing rules that are observed by all branches.

Once the customers are reassured, McDonalds go on to plug their Drive-Thru and delivery services, showing that they already have a clearly defined strategy in place while much of the hospitality industry is running around completely headless.

lululemon - Livestream Yoga & Meditation Classes

Sometimes a keen strategic mind comes in yoga pants rather than finely tailored office attire.  Fitness brand lululemon have been quick to adapt to promote an active lifestyle at home.

With a daily program of live stream workouts and meditations, they are aiming to fill some of the void created by mass gym closures.  The workouts are run by fitness and mindfulness influencers who are part of the lululemon community, and are carefully styled and branded to best present their products amidst a sea of health and calm in turbulent times.

The classes are available live on Instagram every day, and additional workouts have been shared in a YouTube playlist for those in other timezones.

M Woods - A Hypothetical Show For A Closed Museum

With cultural institutions closed down for potentially months, there have been cries of anguish from all sides of the art world as incomes collapse and access to culture quickly disintegrates.

Beijing contemporary art gallery M Woods created a virtual exhibition featuring image and video works of its artists and made the experience available on their website.

Similar concepts using virtual reality tours have been rolled out by other museums in China, and we might see similar things to come in the rest of the world.

To provide a revenue generating offer that captivates audiences, it is important that the consumption of these tours is a different experience to consuming images of art on social media.  For this challenge gallerists and curators are teaming up with developers to deliver immersive and interactive tours of the work.

Social media is of course a highly effective tool to promote your virtual ticket sales, and this new approach to culture consumption could be a welcome tonic to the hysteria and stress of constant news stories.

ClassPass - Rollover Credits

With the closure of fitness studios, app based membership services such as ClassPass are seeing mass cancellations.

In a bid to retain as many of their paying customers as possible, they announced that unused class credits for the month will be rolled over.

They also relaxed cancellation and account suspension policies, allowing users to opt out of classes free of charge if they have health concerns.  While this approach sounds benevolent, it could put additional pressure on the class instructors who in some cases are smaller boutique studios facing their own hardship.  Understandably, Class Pass are in a tough position and need to prioritise retaining subscribers while the gyms are closed.

SodaStream Australia - Ad Creatives

The undisputed masters of do-it-yourself fizzy drinks have updated their ad creatives to focus on the home market in no uncertain terms.  For those who are afraid to pop out for their soda, they are promoting their products as the solutions to keep your life in quarantine sparkling.


While the idea of promoting a home use product for … well, home use… is not exactly revolutionary, SodaStream have been quick off the mark to adapt their ad creatives showing that they are truly tapped into the minds of their target market.

Corona Beer - Tactical Silence

Despite many predicting the collapse of the popular beer brand at what must have at some points felt like a PR disaster, Corona beer have actually seen an increase in sales!

The internet has been peppered with memes poking fun at the brand, including some butt clenching TikTok videos.

In response to the potential onslaught, Corona has done the right thing.  Absolutely nothing. Realising that in the wake of the disaster, the best thing to do is to stick to what they do best, selling bottled beer, rather than fighting the trolls has paid the bills.


For help with urgent and cost-effective content creation, campaigns, community management or crisis communication strategies please contact Hello Social here.


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