by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media

Seen any interesting TV lately? Putting aside whether “TV” means linear live TV or streaming on-demand, I am pretty sure the answer is “yes”. And if you are one of the few people that does not respond “Tiger King”, (which according to Nielsen, drew a near-record audience of 34 million viewers in its first 10 days), I am pretty sure you are at least watching more news, or have rediscovered your appreciation of the myriad guilty-pleasure viewing options across cable. Whether it’s 90 Day Fiancé, the “Real Housewives” franchise or the Guy Fieri channel (I mean Food Network) we are all watching more TV.

This means you are probably noticing the change in tone of the advertising that airs at commercial breaks. “The consumer journey” has become an uncertain path, with new obstacles littering the way. A stunning 95% of the U.S. population is now affected by some form of “stay at home” or “shelter in place” rules. More and more marketers are running ads that acknowledge how the coronavirus has suddenly and drastically changed our daily existence. The acknowledgment comes with a compassionate tone, a softer “sell” and a gentle reminder that the brand is here for us.

A few weeks back, my colleague, Catherine Boera, introduced the concept of CARE, and what it means to Consumers. Consumers want CARE: Connection, Assurance, Resourcefulness and Empathy. As we watch more TV and TV commercials, we see daily examples of brand marketers that are getting CARE right. Here is a look at 8 brands that we think are providing the CARE that consumers crave.

Connection – no surprise that brands that best understand our craving to connect with others are those whose core business is enabling those connections.

  • T-Mobile tackles the challenge by communicating tangible actions they have taken to ensure connection, like doubling network capacity, increasing access to unlimited data and providing free data for schools and students.T-Mobile We’re With You
  • Verizon takes the approach you expect from the market leader, emphasizing their commitment to the network “so America can stay connected to work, school and most importantly each other.”Verizon Staying Connected to Each Other

Assurance – brands in virtually all categories from QSR’s to retailers to automotive are acknowledging the new realities and reassuring consumers they are taking appropriate action in response. Two examples that stand out are uniquely in the categories of beer and CPG.

  • This single St. Patrick’s Day ad from Guinness hits so many of the right notes (“Parade? Don’t worry, we’ll march again.”), but is listed here because nothing provides more assurance than a brewer that has “signed a 9,000-year lease on our brewery awhile back, so we’re not goin’ anywhere”.Guinness
  • Psychologists will theorize and produce volumes of research to explain why the pandemic caused people to obsess with the purchase of toilet paper. In this moment, thankfully, Angel Soft just tries to calm us all down.Angel Soft

Resourcefulness – automakers generally have done a good job showing consumers they are improvising and finding ways to meet immediate needs in the face of adversity. SlingTV finds a way to achieve this by keying into our current human condition: “You’re home. Your kids are home. We’re all at home.”

  • Whether or not it was a competitive move in to counter similar offers from Hyundai and Ford, Jeep joined the fray with special financing incentives and an uplifting OneRepublic “Better Days” soundtrack.Jeep Drive Forward
  • Sling tells us “Staying safe means staying in”. And what better way to do this than with Free TV? Simple and effective.Quarantine with Sling
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Empathy – more brands are showing consumers they understand what they are going through and are being proactive to protect their employees and customers alike. Two of the first marketers to do this well are Toyota and Walmart.

  • Toyota’s approach intersperses imagery of customers and employees in a way to underscore that we are all one big Toyota family. “We’re here for you. Now, and in all the better days ahead.”Toyota We Are Here For You
  • Walmart has faced criticism for its treatment of employees and has been making strides to change this in both perception and reality. In this light, it is especially refreshing to hear the President and CEO of Walmart tell his employees “I see Heroes. Not just to me. But to so many.” The message works effectively both from a branding perspective and as a rallying cry for these frontline heroes.Walmart

Seeing so many marketers that get what CARE means to Consumers (Connection, Assurance, Resourcefulness and Empathy) warms the heart. It is refreshing to see that it is still possible to “sell” in an uncertain environment with gentle, relevant and uplifting creative.

In our next CARE installment, we will continue to highlight marketers that are getting CARE right. In the meantime, know that we at Active CARE and are ready to help our family of current and future clients, media partners and other trading partners achieve your CARE goals.