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Marketers: Focus on Compassion, Solutions Versus Sales

People are not responding to overt sales pitches

As the COVID-19 virus pandemic began to sweep across the world, Doug McMillon and his team at Walmart watched in horror. Suddenly, they realized, tomorrow would be nothing like “business as usual” and everything in the company’s marketing plan, from retail execution to advertising creative and media, would need to be rethought.

Recognizing that their existing brand creative might strike the wrong tone with people fearful for their own and their community’s health, and anxious about their personal and the world’s rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the Walmart marketing team pivoted quickly to produce and air new advertising creative that tapped into the rapidly changing zeitgeist. The result, the Retail Heroes campaign, featured CEO McMillon Zooming in remotely from home to thank the one million Walmart front line employees for their dedication to their work, he calls them heroes, not just to the company, but also to people around the globe.

At the same time, managers at other global brands were similarly considering their brands’ response to the COVID-19 crisis. Nike chose to twist its consumers’ athletic aspirations into a life-saving call to action with new ad copy that admonished, “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance: play inside, play for the world,” to reinforce the need for people to stay home, while McDonald’s team in Brazil decided to redraw the iconic arches that made up the brand’s logo, drawing the two sides of the brand logo’s “M” apart to signal social distancing.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Harvard Business Review Working Knowledge.

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