By: Erin Mayk
2021 was a learning experience for brands everywhere as they tried to navigate a reintroduction into a normal consumer market, post-pandemic. It was a time to learn what a new normal is and to experience how crucial adaptation is in maintaining brand relevance. Brands and companies needed to rely on creativity to maintain their relationships with their publics, while also recognizing the sign of the times. As the year is coming to an end, I thought it was fitting to look at some great and some not-so-great PR campaigns of 2021.
Covid-19 presented social, economic and political implications that severely altered how companies had to conduct business. Dove, a popular personal care brand, worked to both promote brand awareness and honor essential front-line workers during the pandemic. Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” campaign helped redefine beauty standards and aided essential workers. They created an emotional video of images of drained nurses, with mask imprints and rednesscovering their faces, to celebrate their hard work and recognize how beautiful they still are, despite the PPE striations. With a purchase of their products, Dove donated funds to help hospitals acquire more PPE and products for their nurses and doctors. This campaign did good for both the brand and a larger cause. Similarly, Mastercard worked this past June to draw attention to another pressing issue. For the month of June, the company put images of nearly-extinct animals on their cards. With every card sold in that month, MasterCard donated $1 to Conservation International, a nonprofit that works to protect nature and natural resources. These campaigns prove that there are effective ways to both benefit your company and a greater cause.
For every good PR campaign, there are several bad ones. In August, Snickers released a video campaign in Spain, in which Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja transformed into a “real man” after eating Snickers ice cream. The sentiment “you are not you when you're hungry,” the classic Snickers tagline, was trying to be portrayed. However, the fact that Gibaja’s voice significantly dropped and he grew a beard led many to call the video and campaign homophobic, as the was seen as “right” once he turned more manly, in comparison to his more flamboyant mannerisms before eating the ice cream. A brand boycott became in place in Spain, prompting Snickers Spain to apologize for the “miscommunication” this video presented. It's important to also note that companies can accidentally accrue negative PR and it's up to them to deal with its ramifications. During a press conference in June, soccer phenom Christian Ronaldo pushed bottles of Coca-Cola out of the camera frame, since he does not drink soda. This may seem like a small motion, but it caused major blowback for the popular soda brand; half an hour after the incident, analysts recorded a 1.6% decrease in the value of Coca-Cola. It is estimated that this resulted in a $4 billion decrease in value. Coca-Cola responded that “everyone is entitled to their drink preferences” and did not criticize him for his actions.
It is clear to see that in an age with growing competition, it is important to keep your brand relevant andpositive in the eyes of the consumers. PR campaigns can be very effective- if executed correctly.