4 Creative Pandemic Campaigns That Were Absolutely Genius

There’s nothing better than seeing a marketing campaign that pushes our concept of what’s possible.

It is easy to think that an economy-crushing pandemic caused by COVID-19 worldwide would dull creative expression as brands would become more risk-averse. The inverse has been the case instead.

Sure, there are many brands that have done a good job marketing strong messages of hope and resilience in the face of a global pandemic.

These 4 brands, however, have shown that a lot more can be done to send a message that’s going to stick in people’s minds:


Since IKEA is a brand about making life at home better, it is well-placed to talk about staying at home during the pandemic. And that it did.

The furniture giant made a heartfelt #StayHome video in partnership with ad agency McCann in Spain, encouraging folks to experience their homes again in meaningful ways.

“Hello, I’m your house. Your home.”

That’s a refreshing way to start a message that cuts through the marketing noise. No relying on cliches which have become the pitfall of many companies trying to be relevant during the pandemic.

Haven’t many brands already made countless mentions of “unprecedented times” or “new normal”?

Alongside that, there was the visual crafted by IKEA Israel that’s so on-brand it’s instantly recognizable even without the brand logo. It’s an instant catch for anyone who’s ever needed to know how to install or use an IKEA product.

IKEA Israel used familiar visuals to drive home a message (Source: Found8)

“Höme” isn’t exactly how one would pronounce home, but the accented ö is unmistakably IKEA. And the use of nearly wordless instruction manuals is what makes the brand so universally relevant across markets.

The genius in the IKEA approach to marketing during the pandemic is the utter simplicity and thoughtfulness behind it – much like its products.

And you gotta admit, that toilet paper reference is a great touch.

2. Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC)

The social media admin of GSC gave us a masterclass on how to turn a bad situation around with humor and relevant messaging.

With cinemas one of the hardest-hit industries during the movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia, GSC made the most of its social media channels to entertain queries and comments from local netizens.

Almost anything thrown at them, earnest and inane alike, was met with cheek, wit, and a whole lot of juvenile wisecracking.

Source: ViralCham

No one really knows who runs the GSC social media pages, but the sentiment from commenters is unanimous: it has been a much-needed splash of brightness in an otherwise gloomy pandemic.

This refreshed brand voice is reflected in its now famous ‘HELLO. CANNOT.’ slogan sprung up as a response to a list of hypothetical questions by customers.

When cinemas reopened for limited movie screenings last year, social distancing remained a priority for the cinema chain, and they had discovered a clever way to get the message across.

What makes the ‘HELLO. CANNOT’ campaign work is its organic approach, with a message that’s timely and relevant. No fancy advertising, no big budgets – just a dedication to being responsive on social media and censoring political correctness.

GSC touts simple and charming merchandise for its campaign (Source: GSC)

3. Spotify

Sometimes all a brand needs to do is remind you of what’s essential in a catchy way. Seeing two posters from Spotify, in which the brand logo is shaped like a 3-ply mask, we’re reminded to simply stay at home and not spread COVID-19.

And oh, listen to Spotify. Simple and smart.


Source: Found8

But that’s not all that brand has done. Who wants to back a company that plays on virtue-signaling right?

The popular streaming service introduced the COVID-19 Music Relief campaign early in 2020 when the pandemic first hit red alert across many parts of the world.

By partnering with 20 verified organizations worldwide to provide financial aid to the most needful in the music community, Spotify kept the dream alive for many who would otherwise have been swept away by the effects of the pandemic.

The company contributed to these organizations financially as well as matched their donations dollar to dollar, up to $10 million USD. It has also enabled artists to fundraise for themselves and others through the Artist Fundraising Pick feature on artists’ Spotify profiles.

This comes on top of partnerships with the likes of Soundtrap and Anchor to enable aspiring artists to more easily access services and tools that help them to continue making music.

At the end of 2020, as part of its Wrapped campaign, Spotify partnered with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to honor historic moments that had happened at shuttered music venues.

Source: Rolling Stone

The brilliance behind Spotify’s heads-on tackling of the pandemic is how expansive, collaborative and forward-looking it is.

For a service that is purely digital, it is not content merely operating that way. It is known as a platform that has helped independent artists get recognized, made it easier for music to be social and made music feel more tailored to people.

What Spotify has done when people were going small during the pandemic is to go in the opposite direction and start doing what it does well in bigger ways.

4. Nando’s

Nando’s Malaysia has a reputation for being the first brand with the best response to any news-worthy developments.

The moment an incident begins trending on the cusp of viral explosion across the web, Nando’s already has the perfect funny social media post or advert about it. Sometimes in a matter of hours.

But when the brand started posting Chinese New Year and Hari Raya greetings on social media months after the festivities had passed, people didn’t know what to make of it. Had Nando’s finally blundered big time?

Of course, as many predicted, the fab F&B chain was fab for a reason, so a trick was afoot. The posts turned out to be part of its Re-Celebrate 2020 campaign.

Due to travel restrictions, many had missed the chance to celebrate the festivities with their families and loved ones, so Nando’s wanted to help them properly celebrate the festivities when COVID-19 case numbers were a lot lower and movement restrictions eased around the country.

It’s not called cheeky Nando’s for nothing (Source: Marketing Interactive)

Whoever the marketing brains are at Nando’s, it is clear that they cannot be outwitted. The effectiveness of this campaign boils down to how it is consistent with the brand’s reputation of being swift, playful and engaging.

Yet in this instance, it didn’t land on a jest but rather on a profoundly relevant issue. Definitely one way of taking a heavy issue and coming up with a solution that helps us see the bright side of it.

Constraints that spark creativity

Limitations give us more room for innovation. That’s a piece of common wisdom emulated by the brands we’ve looked at. What are some other brands you’ve seen that have shown amazing creativity during lockdown?