The PMW Round Up – Impressions of an Agency

16th April 2020

Naturally, there is only one topic dominating people’s thoughts and conversations. This is, of course, COVID-19.

This virus has caused health and economic disruption on a scale few could have predicted. Many companies have been forced to close their doors indefinitely, while others have found themselves left with just one choice if they are to survive; to make staffing cutbacks and adopt a work from home policy. Some, on the other hand, have thrived.

Broadly speaking, populations across the globe have been put into standby mode – we’re ‘on’, but the screen remains blank.

Clear evidence of this shift can be seen with a simple glance at our ever-changing media landscape which has been re-shaped and re-focussed from almost every angle. We have entered a new, if temporary, era of guidance articles and public service announcements.

At PMW, throughout this period of rapid change, we are keeping our fingers on our industry’s pulse and have tracked some of the changes as they have happened.

Here we take a look at how brands have reacted over the past month.

Jeep – ‘Explore the Great Indoors’

The brilliance of this advert lies in its simplicity. If you have a brand or a product as iconic as Jeep – utilise it. Less can be more.

The distinctive front end of the Jeep 4×4 is a world-famous, easily distinguishable image that any audience, anywhere can relate to and recognise.

The fact then, that the likeness of this has been constructed out of familiar household items makes this campaign all the more pertinent.

The associations of the image used for this advert – the idea of the cosiness of sitting down with a book – along with the tag line “Explore the Great Indoors” challenges the adventurous personality of Jeep’s branding.

This is worth noting because if a company chooses to contradict their own business model in an advert, the suggestion is that the message being communicated has become more important than the brand itself. A rare occurrence.

In the case of this advert, this is true, though only to an extent. By publishing this campaign, Jeep has found a way to keep the brand relevant and in the public eye at a time when the demand for the product has fallen. More than a good advert, this is a great piece of PR.

Vodafone – Together

Vodafone Italia’s ‘Together’ commercial is at its core a ‘coronavirus advert’, if we may coin the term, however it’s an extremely subtle example of this.

Refreshingly, although the 45-second advert has been tailored to address the current situation that we find ourselves in, context is key. This campaign, even with the narrator’s closing remark “when we can’t be close, we can be together” wouldn’t seem out of place had this aired at any other time.

Without explicitly mentioning coronavirus, Vodafone has presented itself as providing a solution to the loneliness and isolation caused by social distancing.

Southampton FC – Social Media

Sport has been one of the harder hit industries in the current age of locked-down societies.

At the very beginning of the coronavirus crisis, way back when events were still being cancelled one-by-one, Southampton was supposed to play Norwich. This never happened.

In a stroke of social genius, the media team at Southampton responded to this cancellation by challenging Norwich to a virtual game of noughts & crosses on Twitter. Norwich, however, were caught asleep on their feet and missed the opportunity.

After the full 90 minutes had passed with no response, Man City accepted the challenge with the game ending in a draw.

Here at PMW, we loved watching the online drama unfold. This was a clear illustration of a media team’s quick thinking which led to more than 125,000 interactions across the series of posts – and that turned into a viral PR opportunity when visibility has become crucial.

KFC – ‘It’s ______ _______ Good’

KFC’s most recent TV advert, similar to Jeep’s methodology, builds upon the strength of the brand’s identity. They do this to the point that they are able to exclude their tagline ‘finger licking good’ and replace it with the simple image of somebody licking their fingers.

Timing, however, can be key. KFC’s campaign aired at the same time that government advice, in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, was to prioritise hand hygiene. Due to this, the Advertising Standards Agency received hundreds of complaints which eventually led to KFC pulling the advert.

It’s important for companies to ‘read the room’ and remain sympathetic to current issues if they want to avoid embarrassing faux pas.

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Sally Burfoot - Senior PR Manager

A highly knowledgeable PR expert with more than 20 years’ experience working in the media industry. Sally initially trained as a journalist and cut her teeth on both regional and national news desks before moving across to PR.

Over the years, she’s created numerous successful campaigns for clients including a global aviation company, the British Heart Foundation and shopping centres up and down the country.

Outside of work, you’ll find Sally either strolling along a beach or jumping up and down at a music gig.

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