[Series] Marketing during COVID-19: Brands provide economic and emotional relief

April 22nd, 2020 | Jeannette Ornelas

Each week on the Bolder Thinking Blog, our analysts share insight and analysis on how companies and brands are navigating COVID-19 with innovative thinking and multichannel campaign strategies. In this week’s post, we discuss how brands continue to deliver as consumers seek economic and emotional relief.  

Brands provide economic relief 

FSIs eased consumers through the stimulus payment process. 

Congress approved an Economic Relief Plan for individuals and businesses, including a $1,200 refundable tax credit for individuals ($2,400 for joint taxpayers) and a flat $500 per child for taxpayers with children.    

Cash App reminded customers that it now offers routing and account numbers, just like a bank. The mobile payment service promoted “speed up your government stimulus payment with Cash App.”  

Traditional banks pushed mobile check deposits and no-fee check cashing for non-customers. Wells Fargo is cashing checks for non-customers, with no fees charged. Bank of America showed customers how to deposit their stimulus check via the mobile app. 

Banks acknowledged frustrations with the Payment Protection Program (PPP) process and leaned into email and social to guide customers through the process. 

Chase acknowledged growing frustrations with the PPP process. The bank vowed transparency and provided updates for consumers on social and via its website. 

As PPP funds run out, big chains and academic institutions are under fire for taking resources away from small businesses. 

Shake Shack changed the narrative by returning the loan while Harvard promoted the aid it received on social media.

Brands provide emotional relief 

Brands are filling the current void in consumers’ lives with virtual content, such as Twitter livestreams. 

Mastercard brings “priceless” experiences consumers can enjoy from home, such as a live golf lesson from professional golfer Ian Poulter.

Uber launched two no-contact products, Uber Connect and Uber Direct, to help users stay connected while apart. 

As schooling is currently from-home, AT&T is keeping students connected, creating a $10M fund to support social distance learning tools, curriculum and resources to help educators and families keep school in session.  

Consumers are alleviating some stress—by baking bread.  

The rising bread trend embodies consumers’ calls for calm in an uncertain time. Discover used one of its posts featuring an individual employee to get in on the bread conversation. The post profiled a manager who, while working from home, has found the meditative power of bread-baking.  

What we think 

With consumers looking for certainty anywhere, brands can offer support with gestures large and small. 

To make it through, consumers are looking for relief – both financial and emotional – and brands are playing a part in providing it. From “priceless” experiences to bread recipes, companies are trying to ease the burden on consumers by taking away barriers to joyful activities. As brands continue to market these efforts, and as economic relief begins to roll out, it’ll be critical for brands to move beyond the now-tired “we’re here for you” messages and toward messages that are more action-oriented. There is a future beyond COVID-19, and brands can help guide consumers in that direction with clearly articulated resources.   

Stay tuned for next week’s post to see how marketing is evolving during COVID-19. Catch up on the full series here.

Jeannette Ornelas

Jeannette Ornelas

Jeannette Ornelas is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst for Comperemedia. Jeannette is responsible for producing syndicated and custom reports and providing marketing insights across a range of industry sectors and channels.