Unless you’re in the business of selling hand sanitiser, a global pandemic is not many creatives’ idea of an ideal marketing opportunity.
So it is fully understandable that very few brands have chosen to put their heads above the parapet in recent weeks and say anything about the Coronavirus crisis sweeping the globe.
But even amidst the bad news of the last week, some quick-thinking individuals and brands have shown that, with a bit of creative flair, even the bleakest of situations can be turned to your advantage.
The Big Ideas
Let’s start with the most lo-tech of the contenders…
Capitalising quickly on the weekend’s panic-buying spree, Bridlington arcade owner Eddy Chapman became a minor celebrity after replacing the stuffed toys in one of his arcade’s claw machines with rolls of toilet paper.
For 30 pence a pop, punters were challenged to test their skills and bag themselves a precious bog roll.
Next up, cosmetics brand Lush
Lush won plaudits for a stunningly simple initiative that invited the British public to step inside their stores to wash their hands, with no questions asked and no obligation to buy.
Having courted controversy with their shop windows in recent years, this was an opportunistic masterstroke that returned the brand to its natural territory of soap, handwashing and all-round niceness.
Finally, we turn our attention Down Under
The infamous NT News printed a special edition with eight additional blank pages, ready to be used whenever nature called (in the event of the aforementioned loo roll shortage).
You can always rely on our antipodean cousins to take their toilet humour one step further than might be deemed acceptable in the motherland, and with a quick bit of graphic design and a few extra sheets on the printing press, this tiny regional title made headlines worldwide.
What they did
The only real common theme between all of these is not so much what they did, as what they didn’t.
In a time of crisis and understandable concern, an expensive, slickly-produced and overly-branded response would have felt completely out-of-step with the public mood.
However, by keeping all of their activity small-scale, practical and tongue-in-cheek, all three of these examples show that there is still a place for brands and individuals who want to lend a helping hand with some comedy thrown in too.
And if there’s one thing we all love (and desperately need) in a time of supposed crisis, it’s a bit of light relief.