How These 5 Brands Are Addressing the COVID-19 Health Crisis


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Marketers are no strangers when it comes to crisis management.

At Zen Media, for instance, we have a long track record of helping our clients to not just survive tough times but to thrive through, and after, them. In fact, one of our favorite highlights is when we helped Dippin’ Dots navigate a strange situation they had suddenly ended up in with former Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

But the continued uncertainty and widespread scale around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a first for us all. Any crisis response guidelines that have existed prior the outbreak now seem to be from a bygone time. And even the most agile marketers out there are left questioning how to address this sudden, unprecedented moment.

However, this crisis has also brought to light admirable brands taking meaningful approaches that give their fans and audiences a reason to believe that we’ll pull through these difficult times, and come out stronger together. 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, here are five brands that are stepping up to serve at a time that truly calls for it, owning the moment, offering valuable help, and bringing some much-needed hope.


To address the gravity of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ford pivoted their ads to explain how they have fought through global crises in the past. The company exemplified this by mentioning their efforts to build military equipment during World War II and provide payment relief to customers affected by natural disasters last year.

And to convey its commitment to fighting the current health crisis, Ford is acting on its ‘Built to Lend a Hand’ mission by manufacturing much-needed medical equipment that is in short supply. In addition, the company is supporting customers facing financial hardships during this difficult time through its Ford Credit payment relief program. Ford’s initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic leans into the company’s over century-long dedication to both their consumers and their country.


For Guinness, the world-renowned Irish brewery brand rooted in Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day is normally a tentpole moment. But with bar closures and restrictions on social gatherings putting a damper on traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Guinness knew that adults all over the world would need a lift.

So the company put together a video, piecing together some existing footage, in a matter of days to provide the public with a message of assurance and resilience. The company encouraged people to celebrate the spirit of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday by lifting one another just as they would a glass.

And to show solidarity, Guinness committed $1 million to support its communities, with $250,000 going to the US Bartenders Guild.


Over the last month or so, toilet paper (a product that typically doesn’t garner a ton of headlines) has been in the spotlight as the product at the forefront of pandemic panic buying.

Given the rate at which stores are selling out of TP, Cottonelle (one of the world’s largest producers of toilet paper) created a video that delivered a message to discourage panic buying behavior and ease consumers’ concerns. Rather than stockpiling toilet paper, the company is urging people to “stock up on generosity.”

In its video, Cottonelle also simultaneously launched a campaign, called #ShareASquare, in partnership with United Way Worldwide. The company pledged $1 million, along with one million rolls of toilet paper, to United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. Plus, Cottonelle will donate an additional $1 (up to $100,000) for everyone who uses #ShareASquare.


The COVID-19 health crisis has caused the closure of dining rooms all over the world. And although many restaurants are able to still remain open for takeout, businesses that were not operationally ready to transition into this new model were left wanting. 

To help these operators pivot to a new normal of business, restaurant tech startup OneDine (whom we’re proud to say is one our clients), stepped up to help make the process simple and seamless.

The company has offered to turn any restaurant (with or without a parking lot) into a completely touchless order, pay, and pick-up takeout venue in just 24 hours — at no cost for set up (typical credit processing fees do apply), with no contracts, and with no commitments.

Beyond this, OneDine also started a petition to allow restaurants that are offering groceries and meal kits to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This initiative is a win-win for restaurant businesses and SNAP benefits recipients who may be experiencing increased hardships at this time. 

Allowing restaurants to recover some revenue through providing ready-to-prepare meals and raw ingredients to people receiving SNAP benefits would increase their odds of surviving the pandemic, while helping to support people facing hunger.


For many, being homebound for weeks on end (with no clear indication of when lockdowns will be lifted) may cause stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation. But IKEA Spain saw an opportunity to shift the shelter-in-place perspective.

Adding a human persona to people’s homes, Ikea sought to remind their Spanish- and English-speaking audiences of the stable, warm sanctuaries that they had already created (watching TV with family, playing with kids, building a fort, dancing like nobody’s watching). As the world outside shifts, through its video, IKEA Spain is inviting everyone to see their homes in a whole new light, making it a place to honor the memories we make in it, as well as one where we all create new experiences.

Amid the current coronavirus crisis, these five brands are standing out and leading because they all have one common focus: to aid and assist the people and organizations that need our support the most.

We hope this list inspires your brand to action, and own the moment during these unprecedented times. And if you need any guidance on how to turn this moment into momentum for your business, we’re here to help.
Contact our team to find out how we can help your brand step up and lead.


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