Opinion: Brand Positioning during COVID-19 (And After)

By : Sarah Graham


The flux in social ad spend in March 2020 showcases the uncertainty of the marketbrands across verticals halted their paid advertising as COVID-19 spread globally.

Now, while consumers are building new routines, interests, and hobbies, brands are meeting them on the journey, whether that’s by answering a call for connection or a more tangible need.

Brand responses have differed depending on where they fit in the advertising ecosystem. Some brands have leaned into their CSR guidelines, while others took pages from their PR handbook. How brands took learnings and formulated responses may be correlated* to their market position prior to the crisis.

  1. Guinness leveraged their St. Patrick’s Day microphone to support social distancing.
  2. Apple donated $10 million to help distribute face masks.
  3. IKEA’s “Stay Home” campaign reminded consumers of the good memories made at home.
  4. BEHR’s “Behr Your Background” campaign let consumers play with different wall paint colors when video conferencing.
  5. Aviation Gin’s “#TipYourBartender” campaign donated 30% of each bottle purchase to the US Bartenders’ Guild.
  6. BrewDog created a campaign to highlight how they’re making hand sanitizer with their equipment.

And while consumers may expect the inspirational responses from the likes of Guinness and Apple (not to mention Ford, Nike, McDonald’s, and many others), brands of all sizes are finding their niche in the ecosystem. There is an “other side” of this crisis, and some brands may find themselves with a shifted spot on the chart and newfound responsibilities.

*Note: Brand COVID-19 responses and market positions are not statistically correlated.