Merrick, NY—There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about brand authenticity. The desire for authenticity in an increasingly technological and fast-paced world is so profound that the Diamond Producers Association seized on it as its core premise for marketing diamonds, with its “Real Is Rare” campaigns.
But it’s not just enough to have a compelling story to tell: that story must be genuine and sincere, not a made-up history.
In the past few weeks, as the coronavirus pandemic has upended the world as we know it, authenticity has become even more important. Like everyone, I’m logging a lot of couch time these days, so in between the umpteenth rerun of Law & Order: SVU and The Big Bang Theory, I have noticed many companies managed to quickly produce ads addressing the current situation. All generally say the same thing: we’re here with you. But some are positively brilliant in the way they convey that message, and others less inspiring.
Car companies were first to adjust their messaging. Most automakers now offer zero-interest financing, and GM is giving away free On-Star (a location service that provides help in an accident), but in my opinion Ford's ad wins, hands down.
Its brand-new ad (so new that it’s not even online yet!) shows some very old imagery: Ford’s famous plant in Willow Run, MI, turning out airplanes during WWII because Ford has always been there when America needed it most. The ad says that if you bought a Ford on credit and have lost your job due to the virus, call them and they’ll work with you on payments. And the archival footage of airplane bodies being made at the plant in wartime (above left, courtesy Henry Ford Museum) is about as authentic as it gets.
Ford’s messaging also is a lot more on point to customers’ concerns right now than zero interest on a new car, or even free On-Star, which is very nice but doesn’t address the current issue that people are worried about paying their car loan.
Another winning ad, this time in the drink category, is from Sam Adams, the Boston-based beer brand. Since most beer and liquor commercials show the product as part of happy social gatherings that are suspended for the time being, running those ads would be a tone-deaf disconnect at best, if not an outright slap in the face. But Sam Adams is showing how to celebrate small and show your loved ones you care. Its “toast someone” ads, which actually debuted during the holiday season, are particularly appropriate now. Here's comedian Jo Koy, toasting the most important person in his life, his mom. And not coincidentally, reminding us all that the people we love are the most important part of life. Click here or on the image below to watch.
Good ads don't have to be visual. Saladworks, the fast-casual restaurant chain sent customers an email promising a $5 gift card with every order, either to use on a future order or—better—suggesting it be passed along to someone who needs it more.
And Levi’s, the denim brand, notified customers that its retail stores and outlets are closed but the website is open, even as it acknowledged (excerpted here) that “buying jeans may be the last thing on your mind right now.” That’s about as honest and authentic as it gets.
For jewelers, there’s something to be gleaned from all these examples. If you have a multi-generation business, finding historic examples of how your ancestors served the community during other hard times will resonate. Acknowledging that your customers might not be thinking about buying jewelry right now, while reassuring them you’re here to help the community also will resonate. And of course, jewelry is always a wonderful way to let your loved ones know how much you care, especially when something as worrisome as this situation comes along.
In the meantime, please share what you’re doing to address the crisis in your business. Please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at (610) 393-1955. And of course, please be sure to wash your hands, practice social distancing, and follow all the directives to control the spread of the coronavirus as quickly as possible so we can all come through this healthy and together.