5 Great Video Campaigns During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Eoin Dowdall
Creative Director

At the start of 2020, Covid-19 was no more than a rumor. A faint blur on the horizon that anyone would be forgiven for ignoring. But as the year progressed it became clear that this virus, which was previously perceived as insignificant, was fast becoming an event that would affect the planet to an extent not seen since World War 2. Enter lockdown.

This complete change of lifestyle affected everyone. It didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor, young or old, lockdown put a pause on life in a way previously unexperienced by the masses. With this came the need to adjust. This imperative requirement to change applied not only to everyday living in the home but in the working world too.

Companies that formerly had all the resources they could want at their fingertips were reduced to scanty means. And with this reduction of resources came the need for an increase in creativity. With everyone watching their TVs far more than usual, this was an opportunity for advertising teams to engage with a wider audience and show empathy for their situation like never before.

A study from Kantar showed that just 8% of people believed that businesses should halt advertising during the lockdown. Instead, the general consensus was that advertising should continue as per usual. That retaining as much normality as possible in our lives was the right way to keep morality high across the planet. However, this didn’t mean that things wouldn’t change at all. In fact, storytelling in the post-COVID world has seen normality become slightly warped.

Kartoffel Films London Corporate Video Production
Kartoffel Films London Corporate Video Production

Whilst the foundations of what makes a great video marketing campaign remain the same, there have been slight alterations in everything from technology to technique. We have seen a shift in what resources are available, as well as a change in what audiences want to see. This has meant that adjustments need to be made to video branding in order to create the right connections.

Thanks to everyone on the planet unanimously facing these issues, a strange connectivity has arisen across the world. And this is what many brands have tried to harness. The best video campaigns during lockdown possess similar themes. From empathy and authenticity to a feeling of togetherness and solidarity. Having to adapt to these new audience preferences and make use of the resources available has led to the creation of some incredible video marketing campaigns during lockdown.

Using carefully edited amateur video footage, unique shots of empty cities and some stunning audio, these video campaigns captured the lockdown atmosphere to perfection along with the imagination of the globe. It is fascinating to see how large brands have adapted to the challenging conditions faced by the planet during 2020. And perhaps this could provide an insight into what the future trends we will see in the world of marketing video production.

Here are the 5 campaigns that we thought stood out from the rest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apple: Creativity Goes On by TBWA Media Arts Lab

As with most campaigns, the big hitters released some potent video adverts during lockdown. Apple was no exception. Utilising amateur footage from around the globe, including a celebrity appearance or two, Apple’s campaign was a nod to people’s ability to find creativity in the most mundane settings (with the help of their Apple products of course).

Apple advertisements typically wow audiences with sleek displays of their latest products. However, this video campaign swaps flashy visuals for humble home footage.

The campaign brilliantly utilises public demand for an empathetic and modest video setting. Beginning with a creative use of static imagery, we then see families finding innovative ways in which to keep their creative juices flowing within the bounds of lockdown restrictions. From photographers to painters to a variety of celebrity personalities.

Whilst Apple does use celebrity appearances in this campaign, we see them at home in personal surroundings. This allows the audience to connect to those who usually appear, in many senses, superior. A reiteration of the fact that we are all in this together. This is bolstered by the fact that all of the footage is filmed on handheld devices, giving it more down-to-earth atmosphere.

This is an indication of the potential effectiveness of remote video production. A technique that will prove more influential as time goes by and has even allowed for international shoots to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The video campaign was a message during lockdown reassuring that we were all in this together, regardless of social status.

Facebook: We’re Never Lost If We Can Find Each Other by Droga5

Another entry from a tech giant, Facebook’s campaign has more of a sombre tone to it. It begins with dramatic panning shots of empty streets and stills of cities that have been brought to an abrupt halt. Imagery of empty shop shelves and despairing individuals connects with the audience before amateur footage of smiling faces reminds us that lockdown isn’t all dread and despair.

The video campaign outlines people’s fascinating ability to find positives in even the darkest of moments. And it outlines the importance of social media in connecting with one another. Towards the end we see images of Facebook posts littered with supportive comments to reinforce this idea. The audio consists of British poet Kate Tempest recites her potent poem ‘Peoples Faces’ in the background.

Finally, we see the offer of a helping hand from Facebook in the form of their support page. This showing of solidarity is an adaptation in video storytelling that has become popular during the pandemic. A sense of helping the fight against a common foe and inspiring unity amongst audiences is a theme that has proven popular.

Research shows that addressing the concerns of the target audience and steering in the direction of a solution is an effective way to engage during this period. That is exactly what this campaign does. It focuses on audience concerns regarding solitude and loneliness, before offering a solution. It is not a need created by Facebook; they are simply presenting the brand as a potential solution for those struggling in the conditions brought on by COVID.

It is an effective, and at times artistic, video campaign that utilises lockdown conditions to create a potent message. The use of amateur, handheld footage shows that even the biggest companies create effective campaigns on a budget.

Women’s Aid: The Lockdown by Engine

This video advertisement insinuates empathy in a different, more striking manner. The campaign uses footage of empty London streets to great effect. Empty famous landmarks, cordoned off playgrounds and silent city streets are included in the shots, creating an eery sense of unease. The slow-panning style is accompanied by no more than the faint coo of a pigeon or the distant ring of a siren.

We are then issued the message that many families are trapped at home with their domestic abusers. This earnest but utterly vital campaign message reminds us that whilst lockdown may seem tedious or monotonous, for many others it is far worse than that. It is a call for empathy and togetherness in a much more drastic sense. Unlike other entries on this list, it opens our eyes to a darker side of lockdown which is unfortunately experienced by many.

The advert itself is a spectacularly potent use of setting. The footage is simple but incredibly effective. And the use of basic audio and striking copy ties it all together perfectly.

It is another example of a video campaign during lockdown that has created something striking from such a small budget. Only this time in a more gut-wrenchingly potent sense. It is a video campaign that stands out thanks to its hard-hitting message and a simplicity that helps bring a sense of reality to a subject that can typically be difficult for most people to grasp.

IKEA: Making Home Count by TBWA

A brilliant use of amateur footage of families in Singapore, IKEA’s Making Home Count campaign is a great example of the effectiveness of basic videography techniques. Keeping things simple, the commercial shows families spending bonding time with each other within the home. We see children playing, parents working and the occasional appearance from a family pet.

It emphasises the importance of the home during lockdown. The vitality of making every moment count during a difficult time. Ensuring that everyone is there for one another when it is needed most. And obviously each setting on show is a home filled to the brim with IKEA products.

The strong suggestion that everyone is in the same scenario is evident yet again. But what really makes this a successful campaign is the way that it masters the art of storytelling through video.

The essential ingredients to a great video campaign are the Four Ps: purpose, plot, people and place. This video campaign hits all four to great effect. The purpose is to outline the importance of maintaining the home as a place of happiness and comfort during lockdown. The plot is simply an insight into the fun-loving times experienced by families everywhere in the face of a global issue. The fight against sorrow and solitude that has been deemed a beneficial factor for campaigns during the pandemic. As for the people, we see different groups of relatable characters, primarily in the form of young families. A section of society that is most likely to buy IKEA products. And finally, like most entries on this list, the place is simply ‘the home’. It makes the campaign relatable, comforting and obviously COVID-friendly.

It is a joyous depiction of how a home can be a happy place, even during times of adversity. A lesson that many across the world learned during lockdown.

Coca Cola: Open Like Never Before by 72andSunny

This campaign, which was released in the UK and Europe, encourages the lockdown period to be used as a means of change in ourselves. Released towards the tail end of the UK’s initial lockdown period, the campaign carries a positive message of hope. The voiceover by UK spoken word artist George The Poet is accompanied by footage of lessons learned in lockdown. Whether it be a continuing a new hobby, nurturing close relationships or simply gaining a greater appreciation for the little things.

The campaign is a tribute to all of the positives that have come from lockdown. A reference to the importance of what once seemed unimportant. Again, we see the use of simplistic videography from a multi-billion dollar brand. Between clips of George The Poet’s recital of his poem are shots of people living out their everyday lives in this changed world that we live in. We see supermarket workers appreciating the importance of their role in the pandemic. Parents enjoying the extra hours spent with their children. People taking time for themselves, as well as spending it with others. There is also a moment of thanks for the services which were key to pulling through the worst of the pandemic.

It is a nod to life’s silver linings.

However, there is a slightly different tone to this campaign. Considering that it was released in conjunction with the end of lockdown, the commercial’s positivity works perfectly when combined with the feeling of unity that most campaigns adopted. Plus, the double (or perhaps triple) entendre of the campaign’s title could be construed as a reference to the many ways in which we can seek positives from the COVID-19 pandemic. The re-opening of businesses across the world. Opening ourselves up to new people and new experiences. And of course, opening a bottle of the world’s favourite soft drink.