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End of an era: the brand new day of marketing

By Ben Myall, Managing partner & co-founder

Three Whiskey


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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April 21, 2020 | 5 min read

There’s no doubt about it, the world’s been turned upside down by coronavirus. The pandemic has changed the way we act, how we think, and what we value. The brands that emerge successfully from this crisis will be those who recognize the need to act now and shift their focus to the greater good.

Sebastien Gabriel sunrise

Image by Sebastien Gabriel via Unsplash

In reacting to the new reality of life with Covid-19, brands must show their humanity. The tone of the global conversation has become one of selflessness, empathy, and scientific pragmatism – and brand action and messaging must follow suit.

Now is not the time for over-selling. Consumers are understandably distracted, and with the news full of frightening stats, overt sales messages are unlikely to cut through and might even appear opportunistic. Beyond sales messages, well-intentioned communications letting consumers know “we’re here” also risk becoming white noise. Instead, it’s time for brands to show how they’re doing their bit.

Many brands are ramping up their social purpose

Scores of brands around the world have donated to relief efforts or stepped in to help healthcare workers. Wedding dressmaker Pronovias has donated wedding gowns to frontline brides; shoe manufacturer Allbirds has donated shoes to healthcare workers; clothing retailer Everlane is donating all profits from their 100% Human line to Feeding America. Many other brands have launched similar initiatives, allowing consumers to support relief efforts with their shopping dollars.

These brands continue to run businesses and focus on commercial outcomes, but adding social purpose allows them to meet the needs of the moment.

Manufacturers are re-tooling their operations

Some companies have acted by repurposing their resources, using what they already have to respond to the crisis. Ford and GM are teaming up with medical equipment providers and others, such as 3M, to manufacture ventilators and masks, while alcohol producers like Bacardi, Anheuser-Busch, and BrewDog are producing hand sanitisers in place of their usual spirits and beer.

These pragmatic, solution-focused approaches will be appreciated by consumers – and remembered when business returns to normal.

Relaxing competitiveness in favour of co-operation

The instinct of commercial organisations is to make a profit, but Pharma companies like Pfizer are following the lead of the Chinese scientists who publicly released the virus’ genome and making their information open-source to share data across the scientific community.

Pfizer chief exec Albert Bourla has also committed Pfizer’s manufacturing and production capacity to getting treatments to patients as quickly as possible, no matter where those breakthroughs come from – small biotech companies, or big Pharma.

This is just one example of how many are changing their business models to promote a collective outcome.


In reaction to the global crisis, it’s natural to think about the financial ramifications of a stalled economy. While it may feel counter-intuitive for brands to shift their focus away from sales, it’s important to consider the long-term impacts of this moment in time. As the world moves through this pandemic, consistency, modesty, and dependability will become the new hallmarks of success.

Companies now have the opportunity to find new ways of doing things – and show the world that they are joining the fight and working towards a solution.

Ben Myall, CEO US of Three Whiskey


Content by The Drum Network member:

Three Whiskey

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