17 September, 2020 - 19:52 By Richard Taylor, Managing Director, Simpsons Creative

The Covid Conundrum…

The Covid-19 pandemic divided the country into two camps, and I don’t mean the healthy and the vulnerable, but the selfish and the selfless.  In the latter category is a near neighbour of mine, who has popped a note through every letterbox in our street offering to run errands for the ill and elderly.  

In the other category were the bog roll bandits and needlessly greedy scourers of the supermarket shelves.  

The equivalent, in our business, are the corporately responsible and irresponsible.  In the latter category are those who played on people’s fears by offering medical supplies – face masks are a favourite – for which they make extravagant claims (they will prevent or cure viral infection) and for which they charge inflated prices.  Fortunately, the ASA clamped down on the worst of these ‘spivs’.

On the other hand, are those who committed funds to support Corvid-19 response ($15 million – approximately £7 million – in the case of Nike), as well as embracing the same spirit in their advertising.

Nike’s Covid campaign made the statement: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now’s your chance.  Play inside, play for the world”.  It strikes a nice balance, doesn’t it, between appealing to its customers sporting ambitions and their humanity, their consideration for others.

Nike are experts at building brand loyalty whilst creating individual product/range appeal. Massive budgets aside, their ideas and the execution of those ideas is spot on. And it’s always the ideas that count.

Their advertising sometimes falls between brand advertising and public service advertising. Similar examples might be the breweries urging pub goers to ‘Drink responsibly’ and turf accountants advising punters: ‘When the fun stops, stop’. However, a responsible five second message dissuading you from doing something tacked on to the end of a twenty five second message persuading you to do it, has limited value in my book.   

As far as real public service advertising is concerned, perhaps Boris should go the whole hog and it’s time to revive some of those old WW2 classics – ‘Dig for Victory’ (the way food prices are going we’ll soon all need to grow our own!), ‘Make Do and Mend’ (ditto for clothing and consumer goods), and if you want to strike a Churchillian note (and we know he does), ‘Let Us Go Forward Together’. 

However, I honestly feel that for business in general and marketing in particular ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ might be the best message for now.


@rick_simpsons  @SimpsonsCreate

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