26 May 2020

How to Come Back from COVID-19

The title of this blog post might be misleading. I am not suggesting that we are living in a “post-coronavirus” world or that we will be any time soon. To be honest, I don’t think any of us really know what that looks like or when that will be our reality.

But what I do know is that the world keeps turning, and we have to continue to look towards the future. After all, it’ll be the present before we know it.

Lots of companies pulled back on the scale of their advertising following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, understandably so. When so many sacrificing and suffering, it felt wrong to push products to those struggling to make ends meet. Not to mention, small businesses have been hit hard by the economic effects of the coronavirus, and advertising is often one of the first areas cut when companies endure hard times.  

What new advertisements and commercials we have seen come out of what will surely be called “the coronavirus era” when we look back on this time have been somber to say the least. While the public health crisis we find ourselves in is undoubtedly serious and scary, I really don’t know that I can stand to see many more shots of an empty Times Square or New Yorkers looking solemnly out their windows.

Now that shelter-in-place orders are beginning to lift and businesses are preparing to reopen in certain areas of the country, advertisers have to shift their messaging yet again.

In a recent Budweiser commercial featuring all-star basketball players like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the beer company plays on the classic “Whassup” campaign from the late 90s with some tweaks to fit in with today’s social distancing guidelines. With no live sports and no IRL hangouts allowed, the party has switched over to Zoom.

When Candace Parker says, “Gave up on cooking, been surviving on snacks,” it was all too relatable. It felt good to be able to laugh at the situation we’re all dealing with, and see the humor in it.

So, how do you move forward if you’re not one of the world’s most lucrative beer brands? How does a small business gear up for a re-opened economy?

It’s important to realize that nothing will go back to “normal” right away. While businesses may be starting to open their doors, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers will be flocking to public places any time soon.  

Now is a great time to explore new tactics, take stock of what is working for you and what isn’t, and sweep your own front porch a bit.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it’s impossible to be overprepared. Plan for today, tomorrow, and the unforeseeable future when it comes to your brand. Who is your target market? Who are your competitors? What are their strengths? Their weaknesses?  

This is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what tactics are working for you, what needs to be tweaked, and how you can move forward as a brand after all of this craziness subsides.

If there was ever a time to capitalize on digital marketing strategies, now is that time. Stay connected with your customers via email and social media. If you’re open, tell them, but make sure to communicate what you’re doing to ensure the health and safety of not only the people you do business with, but your employees.

This is also a great time to connect with other local businesses. While it’s hard to find positives in a situation like this, our collective sense of community has definitely been strengthened.

In Denver, I’ve seen a couple local breweries partner with coffee shops and restaurants to offer tasting menus hosted by brewmasters and baristas via Facebook and Instagram. This is a fantastic way to stay top-of-mind even if you can’t fully open your doors yet.  

Look at this as a time to build relationships and strengthen the ones you already value. The businesses that make it through these hard times and flourish in the “after” – whenever that comes – are those that took the time to make a plan, shift their focus, and reward customer loyalty.

As advertising professionals, we’d tell you that those things are always important, but hey – sometimes it takes a bad situation to re-learn a good lesson.


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!