Marketing is a huge challenge right now.

People aren’t paying attention. Budgets are shrinking. Every brand is pumping out content (most of it mediocre).

But it doesn’t mean marketers should simply ride it out. Not every marketing campaign has to be empathetic and low-key. (Note: Check out this great cartoon by Tom Fishburne that highlights the words being used by many brands.)

At a time when it’s difficult to be optimistic, there’s room for levity, humor, and creativity. People are looking for an escape and a distraction, which provides opportunities for marketers to step up and stand out.

Here are two examples of brands willing to embrace creative marketing and do something different.

No-Frills: The Canadian discount grocery chain has discovered its creative marketing mojo during COVID-19. Its marketing is funny, self-effacing, and irreverent. No-Frills has embraced its brand identity and, in the process, differentiated itself from competitors.

This marketing approach is reflected in No-Frills’ Twitter account and, to the surprise of many, a new hip-hop video called “A Cart Apart” that encourages shoppers to keep their distance.

It’s a great example of creative marketing. It may seem off-brand. I mean, low-cost grocery chains are notorious for not spending money on glitzy or creative marketing. But amid different times, there are different rules of engagement.

Another example of creative marketing is Heinz, which recently unveiled a 570-piece jigsaw puzzle where every piece looks exactly the same. Given the renewed fascination with jigsaw puzzles, this is brilliant and opportunistic marketing.

This type of marketing succeeds because Heinz is willing to poke fun at itself while being clear that it understands what customers are experiencing. It’s a great combination of empathy and humor.

Creative marketing is not easy. Campaigns that look good in concept can fail miserably. Succeeds depends on timing, tact, and understanding all the angles to avoid offending people. If a brand can pull it, the results can be spectacular.