Ford and General Mills Take Action Against Coronavirus | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Ford and General Mills Take Action Against Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

By Matthew Schwartz


Starting with this blog post, Marketing Maestros will provide weekly coverage looking into how various brands are responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak and provide relevant resources from the ANA's Marketing Knowledge Center to help your brand do the same.


Ford Drives Relief Efforts

Few brands are immune from the impact of the novel coronavirus. The ongoing spread of the disease is spurring most every company to reevaluate its marketing and communications strategy and brace for significant changes in their business throughout the next several months (if not longer).

Whether it's how to handle a surge in sales for comfort foods during a chaotic period or switching ad campaigns on the fly, marketers face a host of challenges.

However, the crisis also presents an opportunity for companies to strengthen relationships with their customers and cultivate more long-term value.

One of the biggest challenges for marketers is making sure their ad creative reflects the new climate and strikes an empathetic tone.

Ford Motor Co., for example, in mid-March rolled out an ad campaign plugging a new program designed to assist customers affected by the pandemic. "We want to make sure that anyone who needs assistance knows it's available," said Marion Harris, CEO of Ford Motor Credit Company, in a statement. In addition, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Ford's philanthropic arm, is providing assistance to nonprofit organizations fighting the virus.

The new campaign coincides with Ford's decision to pull national ads for its various cars and instead focus on the company's relief efforts. It's a move that may be the norm, at least for now, among large consumer brands regardless of which business sector they reside.


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General Mills Serves Appropriate Messaging

Comfort food won't cure COVID-19. But it will probably help folks get through a difficult period.

With the rapid spread of the disease and tens of millions of people staying home, comfort food may take on new currency.

Exhibit A: General Mills. The maker of Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Old El Paso Taco Shells has seen a surge in orders from both U.S. retailers and consumers, according to Ad Age.

Comfort food brands play into nostalgia, togetherness, and familiarity, three themes that advertisers are likely to embrace in their messaging for the duration of the crisis.

Like most every brand right now, General Mills is reconfiguring its advertising strategy and making sure the tone of its commercials reflect a climate fraught with hardship.

"As we look around the world, we have made sure that whatever marketing we have that the messaging is appropriate," General Mills Chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening said on a conference call, per Ad Age. "It's a unique time and we need to make sure, whether we're talking about our brands on social media or we're doing it through broadscale like TV, first of all, our messages have to be appropriate for the time."

How brands manage the message throughout the course of the novel coronavirus pandemic will determine what people think about them long after this scourge has ended.

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