It’s been another slow week in PR, as headlines continue to be dominated by infectious diseases and rogue Tory politicians. I was disappointed to have not seen much brand activity this week on upcoming International Women’s Day (usually a definite highlight in my calendar – but perhaps last week’s Be A Lady was inspiration enough for 2020).
Unsurprisingly, however, this is a time for masterclasses in how to respond to coronavirus… here come the brands:
Lush, free handwashing
As we continue to be threatened by not only the spread of coronavirus, but also misinformation about it, it’s risky territory for brands to have opinions or solutions for the nation.
However, when the government has flagged better basic hygiene as the best way to stop the spread, high street cosmetics retailer Lush jumped in with an excellent response – offering free handwashing to anyone passing by one of their stores.
Lush CEO Mark Constantine said: “The simplest thing you can do to not get a virus is to regularly wash your hands. So we’re saying people can come in off the street and wash their hands in our place. We’ve got loads of soap and plenty of hot water.”
It’s a simple, human, and genuinely helpful response from Lush whilst staying on brand.
Cadbury Creme Egg 'EATertainment'
And on a slightly lighter note, I bloody love a creme egg – although I gave up sugar this year as my long suffering team will tell you (it’s hell, no one should) – and this execution from Cadbury is divine.
Coming from luxury brands you learn early that heritage is king and in this instance what beats retro frankly. The pop-up at John Lewis Oxford Street (a place I also bloody love) allows customers to shop a vintage video store, browsing the shelves for titles included on Cadbury’s EATertainment platform, all whilst choosing which chocolate egg treats to fill their movie-inspired tin with.
Add in a little personalisation on the tin and you have got yourself something fun and irreverent, on brand and strategically sound for the platform – coronavirus willing.
Essex Tourism Board
I think it’s fair to say that of all the counties in the UK, Essex probably has the strongest brand value. But apparently it’s not the brand value that the tourism board would like.
This week, they announced they are launching a social media film featuring ‘ambassadors’ for the county, with the aim of proving there’s more to Essex than fake tan and ‘vajazzles’.
Instead they want to promote the county’s historic market towns and Michelin starred chefs.
But there’s nothing unique about that – most countryside counties in the UK have pretty (but usually dull) market towns and some nice restaurants. What Essex has is a truly unique reputation, and one that brings in a lot of tourist interest and attention.
It’s a basic lesson in branding to embrace your natural strengths, be authentic, and be proud of what makes you unique.
'The Driver’s Fridge' for Heineken
As we all become more health conscious (apparently), more and more booze brands are releasing alcohol-free versions of their classics to fit in with our new ‘woke’ lifestyles.
Overall, not a bad thing (apart from the boozeless beers that cost as much as the originals in London – BrewDog, we’re looking at you), but the marketing behind them can certainly be a bit hit and miss.
While the idea of making the designated driver feel included may be well intentioned, unfortunately The Driver’s Fridge misses the mark for me.
It’s not clear enough that the beers are alcohol free, which might be intentional to create intrigue, but honestly, the implications of that backfiring are just too great. Might it become a cultural misunderstanding that drink driving is okay? Even if just one person sees this and misunderstands, it’ll have been a bad idea.
Let’s keep booze brands and driving far away from each other, shall we?
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