Global Marketing

Branding & Coronavirus

It’s May 2020. The world is in a pandemic because of the COVID-19, coronavirus, outbreak. People all over the world are quarantining in their homes, trying to stay safe and healthy. Some businesses are closed or going under while other businesses are booming (i.e. Target, Amazon, grocery stores alike). There is no end in sight in the United States, prolonging the closures of businesses and the quarantining of shoppers.

How is COVID-19 affecting branding? Are businesses using this as an opportunity to market to an enormous target market (i.e. people struggling in quarantine)? Is that ethical? Are consumers seeing through it?

Car companies are offering payment deferrals of 90 days to 6 months with the purchase of a new car. Food brands are showcasing their charitable efforts on commercials. Telecommunication companies are ensuring people are staying connected. And more.

The Frito Lay commercial shown above is one of the many commercials centered around coronavirus efforts. Some responses praise the company for its altruism, some responses see through the commercial for what it realistically is—an ad for Frito Lay. Perhaps it depends on the perspective of the viewer whether their opinion will be applauding Frito Lay for its good works or shaming it for its humblebrag. The commercial explains that now is not the time for brands to be telling “us” what to do, but rather showing us. It then proceeds to list the several unarguably positive works the brand has done to contribute to the coronavirus pandemic.

This article in Fast Company criticizes the move. This article in Marketing Dive praises the commercial and explains that Frito Lay’s data shows that consumers respond more positively to ads that show what brands are doing rather than brands telling the people what to do. Marketing Dive also noted that consumers believe that brands will make more and quicker impact on COVID-19 relief than the government.

Considering that advertisements are one of the most effective ways to get a brand’s message out, I personally see nothing wrong with showcasing the facts. Even if the intention behind the Frito Lay commercial was to increase good will for the company, that does not negate its good deeds. The world needs more positive news now more than ever. Perhaps consumers are even comforted by the fact that one of their household brands is actively doing what they can do combat coronavirus in its own way.

Is a good deed still a good deed if you make an expensive commercial to tell people about it? Comment your perspective below!

-Cassity Brown

2 replies on “Branding & Coronavirus”

Hi Cassity,

I do think it is still a good deed, even if they are using an expensive commercial to demonstrate it. In my view, good deeds shouldn’t need to be showcased, and it’s not always right to showcase it. I have seen quite a few commercials demonstrating the good deeds companies are doing, and this is one of my least favorites. This commercial is more poignant in pointing out that they are doing something good than some of the other commercials. I will be curious as to whether the sale of Frito Lay’s increases.

I’ve seen many companies advertise how they are supporting their communities through donations to hospitals and coronavirus cure or relief efforts. I see this ad as a more emotional and personal way of describing what Frito Lay’s is doing than your average press release. Who knows if it will ultimately increase sales but this ad makes me feel similarly to the P&G loves moms campaign and I think it will strengthen the company’s brand image overall.

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