Copy in the time of COVID-19: How locking down the right words makes the difference

There are new realities to deal with when it comes to production. Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which words can transform available materials into impactful messages.

Here are 11 of our favourite examples from the recent and not-so-recent past – including some work of our own.

1. Timeless insight

Advertising often works by re-framing what you thought you knew into something fresh. And a great line of copy can transform a visual into a surprising message. For example, here is a classic Nike ad from the UK which re-frames basketball into a battle against the force of gravity. A battle that Michael Jordan wins every time. It’s this unexpectedinsight that can make you stop and take a second, and third, look.

2. Topical insight

Another approach is to take what is in the conversation – this time literally in the case of voice-activated assistants – and use that to be relevant to your brand. The Economist of course has a famous and long-running campaign through AMV BBDO, and this latest execution shows that it can always be refreshed in new, topical ways.

3. Local insight

Locally, there are few restrictions on how and where copy can be applied. This home-made example that was picked up in news reports shows that budget and materials are not barrier to home-made ideas.

4. Urgent messaging

Similarly in the State of Oregon, the authorities worked with an agency to re-frame the way people think about going outdoors in the pandemic by making it about the responsibility you have to others rather than just the desire to protect yourself.

5. Reflective messaging

The phenomenon of much of the world being on lockdown has pushed music festivals and other large gatherings to hold online-only versions of their events. In the case of the UK’s Sea Change festival, the writer of this poster came up with an idea that expresses the truth that people who went to the online event were both there – and not there.

6. Instructional messaging

Sometimes you really have to just say it with words. For this series of instructional posts on how to make face shields we had to make clear instructions. The posts were picked up by newspapers and even our own Ms Universe, Pia Wurtzbach. These are aimed at encouraging people to provide protection for our community frontliners, such as those who work in retail, transport and other service sectors.

7. Replacing a visual

Although this came out before the lockdown, this campaign for McDonald’s used the familiarity of the ingredients to address its many fans in a powerful way by making them feel like insiders to the joke of what it was that was being sold.

8. Seeing the funny side

Meanwhile, closer to home, our client Snickers asked us to find the positive side of working from home, resulting in this campaign of social posts that enable the brand to champion the positive aspects of not having to go to the office.

 9. Seeing the serious side

Palau Pledge works with a simple idea. Copy that is stamped in the passport of every visitor, and that they need to sign. This creates a contract between the tourists and the host nation. We don’t often write in our own passports, so being told to do so officially is already something fresh. Then being asked to pledge that you will do your bit to preserve the island for future generations has real impact.

10. See the positive side.This campaign uses copy to send the serious business message that when other brands are quiet, the ones who are active have a greater share of voice. The invitation is to think beyond the immediate environment and look forward to the world after the pandemic when those who invested in awareness and loyalty will reap the rewards.

11. Enduring legacy.
Finally, we want to pay tribute to one of our former clients, Ramon Jimenez, Jr., aka Mon J, who was of course Secretary of the Philippine Department of Tourism from 2011-2016. The line that we produced with him led to literally thousands of executions and, thanks to current Secretary, Berna Romulo-Puyat, continues to this day.

Here is a brief sample of some of the initial work we produced.

YouTube video

Thank you for reading and, as always, BBDO Guerrero is here to help.