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Marketing to a Country in Crisis: Getting Content Out the Door From Behind Closed Doors

BY Diane di Costanzo and Dan Rubin

“Great idea. But how are we going to actually make the content?”

Nearly every brainstorm session arrives at this question, especially when the discussion turns to creating something as simple as a photograph or video. Since mid-March and for the foreseeable future, putting people—or even product—in front of a camera or film crew is a logistical challenge. As for experiential marketing involving IRL audiences? Impossible, if not illegal, at least right now.

Consider the list that follows a playbook for COVID-compliant content production workarounds, with kudos to the teams that created the visuals. And in short order: all of the work was published quickly, so as to be available to consumers under quarantine.

1. Illustration
Organization: The Ad Council
Campaign: COVID-19 PSA for Parents

The Ad Council selected Foundry 360 to produce an information campaign to help parents promote COVID-19 health and safety precautions to families. The illustrated ad focuses on being “Coronavirus Smart,” based on three pillars—hygiene, social distancing and mental and emotional well-being. Foundry 360 turned it around in record time, including approvals from the Ad Council and the CDC. It can now be seen in PeopleEntertainment WeeklyVariety and Forbes, among other publications.

The result: A massive audience of parents have been educated on how to manage their families through social distancing, at a time when it matters most.

2. User-Generated Content
Brand: Parade Underwear
Campaign: #ParadeTogether

The award for cheekiest (literally) campaign goes to Parade’s UGC play on Instagram. Users are asked to post a selfie taken at home wearing their Parades with the hashtag #ParadeTogether, and then to nominate five people to do the same. For every post in the month of April, Parade is donating $1 to Feeding America.

The result: Users tell their visual stories using just their smartphones on behalf of the brand while also funding a worthy cause and promoting Parade to their friends. Win, win, win.

3. Partner-Generated Content  
Brand: Coca-Cola

The beverage giant is donating its massive social audiences to partner charities, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Feeding America, American Red Cross and others. “Our Twitter is going to look a little different as )we donate our social feeds to experts and partners sharing helpful information,” @CocaCola tweeted on April 7, with similar messaging on Instagram.

The result: By integrating their partners’ content, Coca-Cola’s feed has remained relevant, interesting and rewarding. Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive, and Coca-Cola’s scale (3.3 million Twitter followers) has been a valuable platform for non-profits.

4. Influencer Marketing
Brand: Too many to Count

Influencer marketing is on the rise with celebrities stuck at home (stars, they’re just like us!). Here’s why: Influencers can create the content for brands, avoiding all production issues during social distancing. Instagram is now rife with celebrities broadcasting from their homes. The low/no-production values—inadequate lighting, interruptions from children, and up-the-nose camera angles—offer a refreshing realness that’s much-appreciated during these we’re-all-in-this-together times. The most surprising solicitation, however, came from Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who used airtime on Good Morning America (GMA) to ask Kylie Jenner to help convince young people to stay safe. “We need to get Kylie Jenner and social media influencers out there, in helping folks understand that look, this is serious, this is absolutely serious,” GMA tweeted after the segment.

The result: While it’s unclear whether Jenner was posting in response to the Surgeon General, a few days after the GMA segment, her message to “take social distancing serious!!” (sic) yielded nearly 4.5MM likes. Now that’s influence.

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