If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting. – Kevin Kelly

COVID-19 sucks for lots of reasons.

For brands, marketing needs to be supportive, empathetic, sensitive, and strike the right tone. It explains why a lot of marketing features phrases like “We’re all in this together”. Life is challenging, surreal, and frustrating.

But it is a mistake if brands are afraid to be creative, irreverent, bold, or funny. It’s the wrong time to be complacent, conservative, or boring. That’s a brand killer.

This is the perfect time to experiment and embrace new approaches to advertising, content, and customer engagement.

As the adage goes, you need to dance like there’s nobody watching and sing like there’s nobody listening.

This is the perfect time to make mistakes.

It’s the perfect time because the rules of engagement are upside down. Businesses aren’t operating, selling, or marketing the same way. Consumers have different budgets and expectations. In other words, it’s a whole new ballgame.

This is the perfect time to think out of the box and do things that make you uncomfortable.

The window is wide open to try new things like launching a podcast, creating a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that only feature one color, create a rap song (No-frills), or give away your TV advertising spots to small businesses.

This is also the perfect time to fail.

Chris Walker posted recently on LinkedIn that this is the time to move fast, eliminate red tape, and experience real-time learning.

“The days of planning your content calendar and marketing plan for the entire year are OVER. Things change too fast. And you’ll only see the changes if you’re truly executing. And you’ll only seize the opportunities if you move quickly. As fast as possible – Do, Learn, Do Learn.”

It’s tough to fail because someone always takes the blame, accepts the responsibility, and goes back to their corner with their tail between their legs.

You know what? That sucks.

Marketing is about experiments. Some of them work. Some of them don’t. As Chris Walker says, if you’re failing, you’re not learning.

For inspiration, here are some brands that combined creativity and a doing-something-different approach to marketing:

DoubleTree: I have never been to a DoubleTree hotel I love a business that gives you chocolate chip cookies at check-in. The cookie recipe has been a corporate secret but DoubleTree opened the proverbial kimono because “extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures”.

Another brand to embrace creativity and an opportunity to do good is Kraft Heinz Canada. The company’s peanut sales have been exploding recently. I guess peanut butter is right up there with flour and chocolate as a must-have.

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Instead of using TV ads to push more peanut butter, Kraft gave ad space to small businesses to promote what they offer and how customers can their products. It’s creative and out of the box thinking.

Then, there is Visa’s Stay Healthy Like an Olympian/Paralympian campaign, which shows how high-performance athletes are attempting to stay in shape during the pandemic.

While I suspect these athletes’ workouts are more intense, the ad inspires those of us unable to visit a gym.

Here’s the thing, your marketing activities don’t need to be as creative, splashy, or expensive. But they need to be creative, engaging, entertaining, and take a fresh approach.

If you’re ever going to take chances or put a toe over the line, now’s the time!


Looking for ways to develop and create content that makes an impact? Need to improve your brand storytelling? Let’s talk.