Creative Branding Through Covid-19

This eerie time can feel unthinkable and disheartening.  But there is always a silver lining, there is a reignited sense of community, and a special kind of togetherness that we feel by all being apart.

Among some of the many tragedies we will see, are the loss of small businesses.  One of my favorite things to see is the stand out small business owners who are fighting to stay open by continuing to come up with new ideas.

Barstool Pizza Reviews

Dave did not quit One Bite Pizza reviews when New York went into a state of emergency. Rather, he joined his viewers in staying at home, and continued reviewing pizzas by using popular frozen pizza brands. Rebranding to stay relevant, Barstool Pizza Reviews from Dave’s home have comprable views to his average pizza review posts.

Pritchard Music Academy

Local music academy in Gaithersburg, MD has joined the digital community by providing lessons over facetime.  Many businesses have had to move online during the pandemic, but doing music lessons online takes it a step further.  This is something that can help them not only stay in business for the time being, but also grow when the dust settles.


Clyde’s was known in the area for a higher-end choice for family’s Sunday brunches or celebratory dinners.  Without this option, Clyde’s rebranded. Clyde’s was known as a “home away from home” for many, and now they are bringing it to people’s homes. Now they are offering delivery for the first time ever.  

Ledo Pizza

Though pizza is a take out staple, Ledo’s is a locally owned pizza chain that was losing business after people started to stay home for the virus.  Ledo’s started providing make-your-own pizza kits, the perfect solution. Easy to sell, and great for families looking for ways to keep themselves busy.

Zoom Charlottesville 

As a local spin studio in Charlottesville, providing online classes was not going to cut it for Zoom to keep their doors open.  Rather than cutting their losses, the dynamic studio owners rented the bikes from the studio out to their customers. Now, Zoom can continue to operate online spin classes to their regular customers.  

Creativity is more than dreaming up great copy on just the right design, or the perfect cast for an advertisement.  Creativity is understanding the consumer in a way they didn’t know they could be understood, and then delivering.

The Most Creative Super Bowl Ad of 2020

“Famous Orders” McDonald’s Super Bowl Ad by Wieden & Kennedy New York is remarkable because of its audacity not to be just another Super Bowl Ad.  The 30-second spot highlights celebrity fans’, fictional characters’, and famous NFL players’ go-to orders. 

It is not obvious, but once you start watching – you’re hooked.  The viewer is intensely reading to see who orders what at McDonald’s.  The ad uses celebrity features and humor, but the creative team at Wieden & Kennedy did not opt to merely plug in the expected Super-Bowl ad formula for success.  This is something only a brand with great customer loyalty and tradition, like McDonald’s, could accomplish- and they did it perfectly.

McDonald’s is an icon, and the ad features iconic orders by icons.  Somehow, comparing Kim Kardashian West’s or Julius Caesar’s McDonald’s order to your own, the customer becomes a part of something larger than themselves- a community of icons, and maybe they are even an icon themselves just for lovin’ it too.

The Chicago Roastery

For those who worship, Starbucks in the morning is an important ritual.  But when you’re visiting the same shrine every day, it’s hard to keep the fire inside you ignited.  When Starbucks announced its largest Reserve Roastery was opening in our city, the zealots all praised the gods.  Finally- a cathedral for all fanatics to come together to honor their rite.

Although I do worship,  I was reluctant to join the celebrations at first, but once I saw this print ad the day before the grand opening, I knew I had to wait in line on opening day.

I admired the copywriting, and started thinking about why Starbucks is a great brand and what this opening means for the brand.  Located on Michigan Avenue, this location is more about the experience Starbucks can offer than anything else. The glass outer shell of the building makes it stand out on one of Chicago’s main tourist destinations.  Unlike the buildings around it, it has a modern yet welcoming look that matches the feeling of a traditional Starbucks in a non-traditional way. The inside of the store caters to travelers. Each floor features specialty cuisines and foods that aim to replicate traditional italian cafes and french pastry shops.  Though lesser celebrated by critics, my favorite attraction in the Reserve Roastery is the specialty espresso beans available from all around the world. The beans are for sale along with a coffee passport to encourage customers to try them all. This gives the consumer a sense of urgency to continue to explore all the options, and a feeling of special status to loyal customers.

Starbucks mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit.”   While the focus remains livening their customers daily routine, the growth of the Reserve Brand keeps people in awe of Starbucks.  The Chicago Roastery is truly a spectacle, (and so was the hour-long line I waited in on opening day.) This opening is a link in strengthening brand culture.  Starbucks has nurtured the human spirit by supporting local artists, offering college scholarship programs to employees, famously sending employees to an anti-racism training, and now- becoming tourist destinations. 

Consulted: Starbucks branding review

Eyes Say More Than Words

“How the heck do you make eye exams and optometry interesting? There’s nothing sexy about an optician.”

-Pum Lefebure, CCO, Design Army

Advertising does the impossible by using storytelling to make even the most mundane things feel magical.  In Eyes Say More Than Words, the Quietest Library on Earth silence is protected by the “Quiet Guard” who shushes all sounds from the clicking of heels, to chewing of gum, and even wind created by the waving of arms.  The library’s patrons use their quaintly adorned eyes to start a revolution against him. They use an elaborate code or winks, glances, and eyebrow raises to create a mutiny for expression while showing off their elaborate eyeglasses.

The spot is glorious.  The beautiful old fashioned library, the wild yet classy designer clothes, the “unparallelled fashionable frames,” and the exoticly compelling narrations come together perfectly.  

The campaign takes it even further: “The world has become noisy with ineffective distractions and opinions,” says Pum Lefebure, Design Army’s chief creative officer. “It’s time to silence the noise (a bit) and join the silent revolution to hear and think more before we put it out there. Speak Less. See More.” You can actually “Join the Revolution” on Georgetown Optitian’s website.

Having grown up around Georgetown, I never thought I would read about a place I used to walk by on the way to Starbucks.  I think it is brave of an optometrist to take the initiative to have great advertising, and it has seriously paid off. This is just the latest in a series of cutting edge, weird and fantastic ads for Georgetown Optician by Design Army.I am so impressed with how Design Army managed to make Georgetown Optician so badass.  Georgetowners are posh and scrupulous. To create a world for them where eyeglass-wearing becomes electric and aspirational is optimal in the creative world. 

The Michelob Marathon

The Michelob Marathon is Spotify’s first dynamic audio campaign. Spotify uses personal streaming history, intensity of your run, and where you live to create a very specialized playlist with oddly specific targeted ads for Michelob, even including the weather where you’re running.  The customer then has the opportunity to redeem prizes for their run.  

This is not the first time Michelob Ultra has targeted runners.  In 2017, they launched a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon” campaign where they sponsored races and cycling events all over the US.  

Tim Deeks, marketing manager for Michelob Ultra, said: “With Michelob Ultra, we want to inspire people to live an active lifestyle and the Michelob Marathon with Spotify is a great platform to do so.”  

Every beer company has a personality in advertising.  Bud Light owns using humor, Coors Light owns cold, Corona owns the beach. . . So, does this mean that Michelob Ultra owns exercise? Not what you would expect from a beer brand- it is bold and sets Michelob apart. 

The Whopper Detour

The Whopper Detour, brought to us by FCB New York, is what we live for as creatives.  Effectively, this glorified coupon more than doubled Burger King’s mobile sales. They told customers to go to McDonald’s and download the Burger King app, order a 1 ¢ Whopper, then go to Burger King to pick it up.

What I love about this campaign is the drama.  It gets you thinking “wow, did Burger King really just own McDonald’s like that?” They perfectly executed digital marketing in a really unapologetic way.  Creativity can fall flat on the digital side by getting overly complicated, The Whopper Detour is personal, differentiating, and “Pokemon Go”-kind-of fun.  

At the same time, it is traditional.  By walking over to McDonald’s, you have earned your Whopper coupon.  Just like standing outside the competition’s store and directing them away, but more magical.  

Fernando Machado, global CMO of Burger King, said it best: “that’s the power of an idea.”  Because of FCB NY’s creativity, this wasn’t just some smug attempt to get customers away from McDonald’s.  It “bent logic” and made the Whopper the people’s priority.

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