A Look at Big Brands’ COVID-19 Digital Marketing Strategy

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has no doubt caused significant disruption, hardship and uncertainty throughout the globe. While the vast majority of businesses and organizations are temporarily closed, our digital connection seems to be stronger and more vital than ever. Imagine for a moment what our world would look like twenty years ago without the advanced level of communication technology we have today.

The importance of maintaining dialogue with clients cannot be overstated. Whereas many brands and organizations have halted marketing and media spend for obvious reasons (e.g., Carnival Cruise Lines), many others have pivoted their brand messaging in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


T-Mobile loves a good April Fool’s joke. Of course, this year it’s a little different. The wireless carrier went from unlimited “plans for pets” to donating $1 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for each tweet with the hashtag #GiveThanksNotPranks. In addition, phone manufacturer OnePlus stated it would pledge $50,000 towards the effort while the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball helped out by retweeting T-Mobile’s message.

T-Mobile COVID-19 Marketing Strategy

Audi, Taco Bell and West Elm

All three corporations have begun offering free video conference backdrop images. Zoom, the video conference giant, has seen daily meeting participants surge from a maximum of 10 million in 2019 to over 200 million. So it makes sense for brands to try and leverage some free publicity.

Audi, Taco Bell, West Elm: COVID-19 Marketing Strategy


QuickBooks, the software maker, was originally running with a chic 80s-themed campaign featuring Karate Kid and Ghostbusters stars. After hitting the pause button on that, QuickBooks has published a new 30-second clip with a voiceover stating “QuickBooks salutes the grit and determination of those who work for themselves – they’re the backbone of our economy and in these challenging times, they’re adapting to support their communities.”. It closes out asking viewers to donate through a created by parent company Intuit.

QuickBooks: COVID-19 Marketing Strategy

Bud Light

Another “COVID-19 trend” are virtual concerts. Bud Light is sponsoring the “Bud Light Dive Bar Tour: Home Edition” with the country music star Jack Owen who filmed the performance from his home. Streamed on Instagram Live, the virtual concert was accompanied with subtle branding: “Live at the @budlight Dive Bar Tour: Home Edition: Come have some beers and hang with us.

Bud Light: COVID-19 Marketing Strategy

Facebook & Google

It’s not just consumer brands that are pivoting. Major digital platforms are also doing their part to help out consumers and clients. Facebook is ready to donate $100 million to small businesses. The “Boost With Facebook” campaign looks to provide support to over 30,000 small businesses in 30 different countries.

“We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them”, Sandberg said on Tuesday. “We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.”

Google is pledging over $800 million to support small- and medium-sized businesses, health organizations and governments, and health workers. Some of the commitments included in the $800 million aid are:

  • $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and 100+ government agencies provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • $200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital.
  • $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year.
  • $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to help study potential therapies, vaccines, track critical data and identify new ways to combat COVID-19.

Facebook & Google: COVID-19 Marketing Strategy

While every brand and organization is unique, the above examples should provide solid reference when crafting sensitive messaging. The Social Group™ will be sharing relevant content weekly to help our clients, partners and industry stakeholders navigate the digital marketing ecosystem and the implications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.