• The Cabinet

Top 5 Creative Brand Responses to COVID-19

As we all know, life has taken a fair few twists and turns throughout 2020. We went into full lockdown at the start of spring - with the majority of people adjusting to life working from home and staying indoors, many starting to miss the hustle and bustle of the commute they used to moan about every day. As summer approached life started to slowly turn back to a ‘new normal’, however uncertainty is still high, and we’re all still adjusting to new ways of life. Right now, bars and restaurants are forced to close come 10pm every night – whilst this is better than being shut down all together, it doesn’t come without complications and repercussions to the many businesses this is affecting.

It’s not just our everyday lives that have been altered - the ongoing pandemic poses many implications for the marketing world too. With marketing budgets declining at their fastest rate since the global financial crises of 2008/2009, businesses have had to readjust overnight, and transform their marketing plans altogether.

With campaigns or product/innovation launches suddenly becoming irrelevant or quite frankly, inappropriate given the circumstances, money and time that had been spent had to be pushed to one side. Therefore, new ideas, and new money (if it was available) had to be found to quickly get together a responsive approach to both the pandemic and the safety and concern of the consumers.

There’s been some great responses and campaigns over the last 7 months, whether that be through an advertising campaign or a new initiative to help keep business going whilst sticking to the government guidelines. As a Creative Branding agency ourselves, we wanted to collate our top 5 (although it was also hard to whittle it down!) and share them with you. Plus, we would love to see some of your favourite marketing campaigns and initiatives that you’ve seen….

1. Supporting local breweries – East London craft brewery Signature brew ‘Pub in a Box’

East London craft brewery Signature Brew wanted to encourage beer lovers to support their local venues and shops as best they could during unprecedented times – in line with government guidance of course. So they went one step further by taking the pub experience directly into the home. They launched their hand-delivered (by musicians who have had their tours cancelled and were paid London Living Wage), ‘Pub in a Boxservice, which contains (most of) what you need for a night out in the pub, including a range of beers together with beer glasses, beer mats, a vinyl record, a pub quiz and pub snacks.


2. Going back to basics – Budweiser brings back its iconis ‘Whassup’ ad.

Budweiser went back to the archive and brought to life an old favourite with the ‘Whassap’ ad. However, they tweaked it slightly to better suit current events.

They very cleverly updated the audio in order to encourage people to check in on their friends during the Coronavirus lockdown. A great piece of marketing that touched on both the current world crisis, whilst also brining back a much loved, and globally recognised advert. Well done Budwesier!


3. Send a little love through the letter box – Porter's Gin – ‘Send A Negroni’

Many brands have turned to delivery services to enable consumers to send their friends or loved ones a care package in the post – or even a little something for themselves to enjoy!

Porter's Gin put community and compassion at the heart of their new venture, ‘Send A Negroniis a UK-wide delivery concept which sees a customer send a drink and a special personalised message to their friends or family. With Alex Lawrence, one of the co-founders of Porter’s Gin noting “There’s so many ways to get bar quality drinks to your door now, but what I was getting frustrated with was the lack of connecting people. ‘Send A Negroni’ is a vehicle to connect people as they can send a personal message to someone. It’s affordable and can let people know you are thinking of them.”


4. Adding a bit of a humour to an unfortunately timed piece of OOH marketing – Emily Crisps – ‘We should’ve made a TV ad’

Unfortunately for Emily’s Crisps, their first ever outdoor advertising campaign was due to run in April. Seeing as we’d just gone into lockdown, it was fair to say the campaign wasn’t going to be seen by many people and would therefore be quite ineffective. So they got their thinking caps on and turned around a new campaign in less than a week, reserving the original campaign for when lockdown was over. Deciding to poke fun at themselves they ran the new ad based around the unfortunate timing of running an out of home advert when people were being told to stay home with taglines such as “Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon. Typical”, and “Hmmm…Maybe we should have made a TV ad instead” and they then began sharing images of the digital posters on social media with the hashtag #stayhome. A nice piece of light humour during quite a dark time.


5. A luxury drinking experience to support local bars – Highball Brands launch ‘The Drinks Drop’

Highball Brands, a luxury drinks distribution company in the U.K., partnered with local bars to launch "The Drinks Drop," a cocktail delivery service, with all profits being evenly redistributed to the bars taking part. Participating bars create a cocktail using the Highball Bands portfolio of spirits, which are delivered in reusable pouches, chilled and ready to drink. With deliveries being made by out of work Bar Tenders who had lost their jobs or been put on furlough due to Covid-19, this is a great example of how to not only respond to consumers’ demand for experimentation and creativity in the home, plus the increasing desire to stay connected with family and friends, but all the while taking part in the broader effort to support local bars.


It’s been great to see how brands are responding to the ongoing pandemic. We, like many other branding and innovation agencies have been working with our clients to help navigate and reformulate proposed plans. We all know how important branding is to any marketeer. It’s how you communicate and engage with your consumers. It’s how you tell your story, it’s how you, in a time of uncertainty, give comfort and reassurance to your loyal customers. So now is a time to make sure you are getting your branding spot on. You’re innovating and reinventing to meet the ever changing consumer demands.