It’s Virtual 4/20; Pivoting Your Ads During a Pandemic: Monday’s First Things First

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Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Virtual 4/20: How the Cannabis Industry Is Adapting Its Signature Holiday for Quarantine

Like April Fools’ Day, 4/20 will have a very different tone this year during this global emergency. Festivals are canceled, meetings are banned and foot-traffic at cannabis dispensaries will likely crater, even though they are widely considered an essential business. Cannabis brands are ready to bring the holiday to those who partake to their living rooms with a lineup of stars for virtual festivals. Wiz Khalifa, Billy Ray Cyrus, Berner and Kid Astronaut will take to the screen to entertain. Plus, after a record-setting surge last month, food-delivery services are bracing for an even higher-volume day today.

Read more: See what cannabis brands are planning to connect with quarantined consumers on 4/20.

How Ford, Hershey’s and Popeyes Quickly Pivoted as the Pandemic Hit

Nearly every brand has shifted its message in the last month—in fact the ANA found that 92% of the marketers it surveyed had altered campaigns since mid-March. Three brands—Fords, Hershey’s and Popeyes—explained to us how they revamped their marketing on the spot, even in as little as three days. For instance, Hershey’s evaluated every single piece of social content for 12 brands to determine which campaigns were still appropriate. Meanwhile, Ford’s in-house team worked with agency partners like Wieden + Kennedy and WPP to create a new campaign, releasing six spots over the last month.

Read more: One of the keys to success? Having a strong in-house team allows brands to be nimble in the time of crisis.

Millennials, Gen Z Want Distraction—and Action—From Brands During Crisis

U.S. consumers have been keeping a very close eye on brands during this crisis to see how they react. How will they treat employees? Are they giving back? Are they adapting their business to serve consumers who can’t visit their store or restaurant? In this latest set of data, Dentsu Aegis found that the two youngest groups who have buying power, millennials and Gen Z, want two main things from brands: distract them and take action. That might look something like Chipotle’s celebrity zooms or Anheuser Busch creating hand sanitizer.

See it: Check out the key findings from Dentsu Aegis’ study.

Related: A Morning Consult study found that consumers want brands to communicate two things most of all: adjustments to their services and what they’re doing to help. Consumers want brand messaging to convey empathy, safety, transparency and compassion. Read the key finds from the Morning Consult study.

The Business Case for Apple and Google’s Social Altruism

Apple and Google recently unveiled a contact-tracing initiative using Bluetooth technology on both of their devices to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Once the crisis is over, the technology could demonstrate how opt-in identifiers can be used without jeopardizing user privacy. Let’s allow Robert Webster, co-founder of marketing consultancy Canton Marketing Solutions, to explain:

“The advertising industry could learn from this, where people opt into an ID and a level of anonymous tracking to help the community’s public health,” Webster said. “The principles of privacy and tracking we may see replicated with the cookie replacement, where the data shared is heavily limited.”

Read more: Analysts see Google and Apple’s technology as a potential way forward for the digital ad industry.

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