Blog: 5 Min Read

Many brands’ content marketing campaigns failed embarrassingly during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. But a few smart operators did manage to score major wins.

5 Brands That Got Crisis Content Marketing Right During The Height Of The Covid-19 Pandemic


From life insurers trying to put a silver lining on death and looking like roadside vultures instead, to banks promising ‘we’re all in this together’ and then being lambasted on social media for calling in debts, there were hundreds of Covid-19 content marketing fails during the height of the global pandemic.

For us, getting it right during any crisis is not simply the opposite of getting it horribly wrong. Getting it right means building better client relationships during a crisis and doing everything you can to inform and assist your audience.

Here are a few brands we reckon got content marketing during the Covid-19 pandemic:


1. Taking a Time Out 

In support of lockdown regulations in hard-hit Spain, Time Out magazine in Barcelona temporarily changed its name to Time In. They pivoted their content in line with this, going from a guide to the best restaurants, bars and events to a guide for the best apps to connect and play games with friends online, supermarket delivery schedules and more lockdown must-haves. 

This strategy ensured Time Out was not obsolete during this trying time, while simultaneously fostering brand loyalty.


2. Listening To Your Audience

Audio book app Audible should give the person who came up with the idea to make most of Audible's children’s audio-books free during lockdown a medal, and a massive raise. 

The move was an absolute life-saver to millions of parents stuck at home trying to juggle work and home-schooling, and it showed Audible was attuned to people’s needs while demonstrating they are a company that puts people before profit. 

Closer to home, children’s theatre company Jungle Theatre used South Africa’s months of hard lockdown to record their much-loved African folktales as a free podcast series, linked to a fundraising platform to keep this non-profit theatre company in the black. 


3. Running The Extra Mile 

There was a surge in free workouts going online during 2020’s lockdowns, but Reebok went one step beyond. The sporting brand connected directly with their audience by offering personalised workouts to Reebok's Twitter followers who asked for advice. 

That’s got to have cost Reebok a fair amount in personal trainer fees, but we’ll stick our necks out and say it’s going to pay ten-fold dividends in the long run.


4. Bringing it home 

What’s a major retail travel group to do when their 70-plus travel agencies can’t sell travel? Bonzai Media came up with a solution for long-time client the Sure Travel Group: the #ArmchairTravel campaign

This campaign aimed to lift the spirits of avid travellers by generating content that enabled Sure Travel's stuck-at-home audience to armchair travel around the world through global food experiences, European art tours, books that inspire travel and more.

Adjacent to this, we ran a user-generated content campaign entitled Sure Travel’s #ArmchairTravel Challenge, which took the form of three different challenges. The first was to submit the best travel memory, the second the best foodie travel experience and the third the best simulated travel experience during lockdown. The best contributions won prizes, and Sure Travel generated the best kind of content: organic user content.

Run alongside a mix of expert-led information on the state of travel, Sure Travel's #ArmchairTravel campaign kept their audience highly engaged with the brand and, most importantly, sent out the clear message that Sure Travel is primarily passionate about travel, not profits.


5. Genius U-Turns quickly pivoted content marketing strategies, and rather ingeniously.

The hotel booking site launched a new campaign called “My Dream” in late 2019, which featured the company’s mascot, Captain Obvious, poking fun at the social media trend of travel envy. 

When travel ground to a sudden halt, quickly pivoted by using the collateral of this campaign as a springboard for a new campaign more fitting for the times. Captain Obvious became a campaigner for Covid-19 safety messaging, with the messaging: “This is Captain Obvious. He’s going to be social distancing for a while. And you should too.” And the tagline changed from, “Be there. Do that. Get Rewarded,” to “Just Stay Home”.

Smart. Very smart.


Last Word

All five brands wisely did not use the Covid-19 pandemic as a cheap opportunity to try to push sales, no matter how hard their bottom line was being squeezed. Instead, they kept in tune with their audiences’ needs and daily realities and created engaging, relevant content – a strategy that is sure to benefit these brands down the line. And this is what excellent content marketing is all about.


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