“What Were They Thinking?” Finds a New Home in BRAND United

Last week I shared the news of the four-year anniversary of “What Were They Thinking?” and asked “What’s next?” Well, I’m happy to announce that we just recently refreshed BRAND United’s website, with the goal of a more robust content offering, webinar programming, events, and more. And part of that content offering will be “What Were They Thinking?”

Last week I shared the news of the four-year anniversary of “What Were They Thinking?” and asked “What’s next?” (Oh how I miss you President Jed Bartlet) Well, I’m happy to announce that we just recently refreshed our sister brand BRAND United’s website, with the goal of a more robust content offering, webinar programming, events, and more. And part of that content offering will be my weekly “What Were They Thinking?”

BRAND United’s mission is to educate and equip brands, agencies, and designers with strategies to maximize the impact of their campaigns while helping to create a united brand experience … which lines up perfectly with what I talk about for WWTT?

Much like Target Marketing, BRAND United has an e-newsletter full of content covering brand campaigns, optichannel — optimized omnichannel — marketing strategies, print marketing tips, and marketing trends. And while “What Were They Thinking?” is making the move to BRAND United, Target Marketing is still going strong, offering our audience marketing best practices, marketing technology info, and marketing leadership articles as per usual.

So be sure to subscribe to the BRAND United e-newsletter, and as always, feel free to email me at mward@napco.com when you see excellent examples of the good, the bad, and the truly bizarre of marketing campaigns (also, I’m open to any brand approaching me about new campaigns they’re launching and excited to talk about!) Until next week … have a great weekend!

WWTT? 4 Years of Reviewing Marketing Campaigns

It’s another revolution around the sun, and I have spent another year looking at marketing campaigns, talking about what I think works really well, and the things that are less than stellar for “What Were They Thinking?”

It’s another revolution around the sun, and I have spent another year looking at marketing campaigns, talking about what I think works really well, and the things that are less than stellar. And while “What Were They Thinking?” formats have switched a bit to include more written content alongside video, it’s still been a pleasure to dig into the marketing creative being put before consumers on a daily basis.

During that time, I’ve looked at Burger King’s Moldy Whopper campaign, discussed creative marketing from a cemetery, and shared how Pedigree helped get some shelter dogs their forever homes during the pandemic.

And of course, who could forget about the marketing campaign that married a box of House Wine with Cheez-It? Absolute proof that if you tweet about something you love enough, you might be heard:

[brightcove videoplayer=”” host_id=”6063593456001″ width=”100%” height=”100%” autostart=”false”]

Or what about that time Popeyes kicked off the Chicken Wars … then ran out of chicken? (I still haven’t tried that sandwich yet.) While fans of the chicken restaurant tweeted excitedly about the new sandwich last summer, Popeyes’ own tweet about the new sandwich is what caused Chik-fil-A, Wendy’s, and other restaurants to jump online to tout that their sandwiches were better.

[brightcove videoplayer=”” host_id=”6083509732001″ width=”100%” height=”100%” autostart=”false”]

The past 12 months of marketing campaign coverage has brought my total up to 158 videos and 32 posts, and I’m excited to see what the next 12 months will bring for “What Were They Thinking?” What will be the new marketing campaigns that will cross my path? How will marketers come out of our current hot mess of a world (thanks to COVID-19) and find new and creative ways to connect with consumers?

In the words of my favorite TV president, Jed Bartlet: “What’s next?”

If you have a marketing campaign you think I should discuss — whether it’s your own or that of a peer’s — drop me a line at mward@napco.com. I’m especially interested in campaigns that feature innovative print marketing as part of the overall omnichannel marketing strategy!

WWTT? Barefoot Wine Pivots Summer Campaign to Be ‘Pandemic Appropriate’

Many marketers have had to scramble due to COVID-19 wrecking current and future campaign plans. For Barefoot Wine, which had debuted new Barefoot Hard Seltzers and Barefoot Spritzer cans in January, this meant re-editing a summer ad campaign shot before the pandemic to ensure it was still spot-on.

Many marketers have had to scramble due to COVID-19 wrecking current and future campaign plans. In some cases, this meant cancelling campaigns completely, and for others it meant having to pivot quickly. For Barefoot Wine, which had debuted new Barefoot Hard Seltzers and Barefoot Spritzer cans in January, this meant re-editing a summer ad campaign shot before the pandemic to ensure it was still spot-on.

Featuring Kenan Thompson and Aubrey Plaza, the original #SummerDream ad was shot in a pre-physical distancing world, and was directed by black-ish’s Anthony Anderson. However, Barefoot Wine knew it couldn’t share the campaign as-is for the summer during the current pandemic — but it doesn’t mean that the summer dream had to come to an end.

Anna Bell, VP of Marketing for Barefoot Wine commented:

“We had planned to launch this campaign just as COVID-19 became a pandemic, so we knew we needed to examine the creative to ensure it was appropriate and relevant for current times. We hit the pause button, brainstormed ways to present it in a different, more appropriate manner, and went back to make the edits. In the end, we wanted to ensure the content was uplifting and positive for our audience, and give them something that would make them smile.”

That pivot involved reworking the audio and adjusting the edits. Instead of the ad being about a current Memorial Day party, its new focuse has Kenan sharing a dream he had about a party he would have thrown. Still timely, topical, and gets the products front and center for summer.

Having Kenan also share the ad on Twitter with the reminder about social distancing (but hey, still enjoying a cold, tasty beverage), was also very smart of Barefoot Wine in terms of audience reach.

I can only imagine how hard it has been for marketers to adapt their work during the pandemic, while also remaining as creative as possible. But I have to say, when it works, it works.

Marketers, what do you think of the campaign from Barefoot Wine? How have you had to adjust your current campaigns, as well as plans for the future? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, next week marks the 4-year anniversary of “What Were They Thinking?”!!! I’ll be working on a post about some of my favorite campaigns to date, and feel free to let me know what some of your favorites were … or if I missed covering them!

WWTT? You Can Attend a Virtual Dog Adoption Interview, Thanks to Pedigree

If you’re looking for a furry best friend, stay at home orders don’t have to keep you from finding them, thanks to Pedigree. The brand, best known for its dog food and care products, has a new campaign helping animal shelters provide virtual dog adoption interview possibilities via Zoom.

Have you noticed when you’re on a video chat with just about anyone nowadays, people get excited if your pet(s) decide to participate as well? The stress of the pandemic is taking such a toll on people that seeing an animal is a highlight to their day, especially if they don’t have any pets of their own. But if you’re looking for a furry best friend, stay at home orders don’t have to keep you from finding them, thanks to Pedigree. The brand, best known for its dog food and care products, has a new campaign helping animal shelters provide virtual dog adoption interview possibilities via Zoom.

The campaign, known as “Dogs on Zoom” is featured on the site MeetYourNewDog.com (a landing page on Pedigree’s site). The campaign kicked off on May 13, featuring the Nashville Humane Association (Pedigree has a replay of this Zoom event available to watch on YouTube, so if you need a little extra cuteness I highly recommend watching for a bit.).

Potential adopters can sign into the event via Zoom, ask the presenter questions about the featured dogs, and receive additional information about adopting — all without ever leaving their homes.

As of May 14, there are dog adoption interview Zoom meetings scheduled for May 14, 15, and 18 with different shelters, and the possibility for even more shelters to sign on to the project to help dogs find their forever homes.

"Dogs on Zoom" campaign hosts dog adoption interview events via ZoomAccording to MediaPost, the Nashville Humane Association was selected for the first few events, since it is the hometown shelter for Pedigree. And while the MeetYourNewDog.com site lets potential adopters know that the brand is covering adoption fees, MediaPost also shared that Pedigree is covering the Zoom fees for shelters.

This makes the decision for shelters to apply to participate in these dog adoption interview Zoom events easy, because the barrier to entry is fairly low, and there will still be adoption fees collected (instead of a standard practice of waiving fees in order to entice more adopters). Because these fees go directly into the care of animals and running of the organizations, anytime a shelter can keep them in place is important to the bottom line … also known as the bottom of the kibble bag (excuse the cheesy joke — I used to volunteer at an animal shelter).

Pedigree worked with BBDO NY on the campaign, and I have to say that the “Dogs on Zoom” Shelter Toolkit — available on the site — is an excellent example of educational content creation to provide all parties with the necessary tools for a successful outcome. The toolkit walks shelters through the entire practice of hosting the virtual adoption event, from how to use Zoom to how to best keep the dogs and audience engaged.

Not only is this campaign doing something great for shelters and supporting the pups it’s helping to find homes, but it’s also helping a lot of humans. Not everyone is sheltering in place with families, significant others, or room mates. There are a lot of people living alone during this pandemic, and feeling very isolated.

While being able to get on a Zoom call to enjoy a virtual meet up with friends is nice, having a pet to share space with helps a lot people deal with loneliness and other mental health issues that could be exacerbated during these extremely challenging times.

It’s uplifting to see, week after week, the creative minds behind myriad brands and agencies think of how to help. Not every brand can switch over to making PPE or necessarily do something monumental to support healthcare workers.

But it’s still meaningful when a brand thinks about what other sources of good it can provide. And sure … the more dogs adopted can mean more Pedigree brand dog food sold … but for now, I’m going to take solace in the idea that Pedigree is helping shelter dogs find their forever homes and people find their newest four-legged friends.

But marketers, that’s just what I think … tell me what you think about this campaign in the comments below!

WWTT? Post-Pandemic Vacation Daydreams Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

It’s not a question that COVID-19 has devastated multiple industries, but maybe one of the hardest hit has been travel and hospitality. While it might be hard to answer the question of should these brands be working on advertising right now, there is room for some thoughtful post-pandemic vacation messaging.

It’s not a question that COVID-19 has devastated multiple industries, but maybe one of the hardest hit has been travel and hospitality. From airlines to hotels to destinations big and small, they’ve all felt the pain, and are trying to figure out what they can do to stay in business and keep their employees safe and on staff. While it might be hard to answer the question of should these brands be working on advertising, I think there is room for some thoughtful post-pandemic vacation messaging.

The weather is gradually warming up in Philadelphia — usually by now I have a trip planned for May/June, with more mini-trip planning speckled out through the summer. But thanks to COVID-19, those plans and daydreams have been set aside. And not just for me — for pretty much everyone. So when Puerto Rico’s nonprofit destination marketing organization (DMO) Discover Puerto Rico reached out about a new campaign, I was intrigued (and ready to look at something other than the inside of my apartment).

Discover Puerto Rico’s newest campaign, “All in Good Time” has a simple, yet clear, message: “Right now, it’s time for patience, but soon enough it will be time for paradise — all in good time.”

Discover Puerto Rico’s series of videos are available on YouTube, and the marketing campaign will run across the DMO’s social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

In an interview with CMO Leah Chandler, she explained that the campaign’s sentiment will remain “All in Good Time” until travel restrictions on the island loosen — then it will shift. ” … messaging will shift from ‘All in Good Time’ to ‘It’s Time for Puerto Rico,'” states Chandler. “We’ll carefully evaluate before this shift is made to ensure we market the Island responsibly.”

“‘All in Good Time’ is about reminding travelers that as much as we would love to host them, we know it’s not the right time,” Chandler shares. “Now is the time to stay safe, and soon it’ll be time to come explore our beautiful Island – ‘All in Good Time.’ We wanted to make clear that we’re in this together. The elements highlighted are, similarly, some of which truly define Puerto Rico – the hidden natural wonders of the Island.”

I appreciate that there’s no hard-sell of this campaign. No “get your plans squared away now so you can book as soon as travel restrictions lift!” Instead, the campaign is a gentle reminder of Puerto Rico’s natural beauty and place as a desirable vacation destination. It feels like a permission slip to let your mind wander and daydream a bit about a post-pandemic vacation, something I think we all could use.

But, in the meantime, Discover Puerto Rico is offering several virtual events via Instagram Live and Facebook Live. These are fantastic opportunities for people interested in Puerto Rico to go on virtual tours, and could end up converting them to booking clients once travel is possible.

Again, it’s about offering value, and Discover Puerto Rico is doing a good job of that while being unable to welcome physical visitors to the Island.

What do you think marketers? Having any post-pandemic vacation daydreams of your own? Drop me a line in the comments below, and stay tuned for a Q&A with Discover Puerto Rico’s CMO Leah Chandler in the next week or so as we dig more into this campaign and how the DMO is handling COVID-19.

WWTT? Coors Light’s New Campaign Calls It Like It Is — Times Are ‘Sucky’

Marketers have seen, and used, every available euphemism for COVID-19 in marketing messages. “Pandemic,” “crisis,” “uncertain times,” and “the new normal” are all accurate, but it’s beginning to sound a bit tired. Enter Coors Light’s new campaign, “#CouldUseABeer.”

Most marketers have seen, and used, every available euphemism for COVID-19 in marketing messages. “Pandemic,” “crisis,” “uncertain times,” and “the new normal” are all accurate, but it’s beginning to sound the same and a bit tired. Enter Coors Light’s new campaign, “#CouldUseABeer” and the fact that the brewer is calling these times like they really are: sucky.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWEwr3wrykQ&

As part of the ongoing “Made to Chill” program, Coors Light is giving away up to $1 million worth of beer via the new social media initiative. Legal-age drinkers can tweet at a friend, who can then receive a rebate equivalent to the price of a six-pack of Coors Light (in states where legal; Coors Light provides all promo rules here).

https://twitter.com/CoorsLight/status/1255128607682412546

What went from a 93-year-old grandma becoming an Internet sensation when a photo of her holding a Coors Light and a dry erase board reading “I Need More Beer!” turned into the brewery answering her plea for a cold one. And then, from that point, further inspired Coors Light’s new campaign, “#CouldUseABeer.”

Sure, this campaign isn’t necessarily changing lives drastically … it’s not providing PPE for healthcare workers, but it’s staying true to Coors Light and the brewer’s product.

Chris Steele, marketing director for Coors Light, commented:

“A lot of times, when you see someone working hard, doing something really good, you want to recognize them and you take them out for a beer. That’s not really possible right now, but we want to help people get that brief moment of pause and enjoyment that Coors Light provides.”

Coors Light’s new campaign features 15- and 45-second ads narrated by  Paul Giamatti who reminds us that Americans have dealt with really had times before, and during those times, beer kinda helped.

The marketing is relevant, and in my opinion, the message is spot on. These times DO SUCK. They’re hard and they’re scary, and the only thing we can do is take care ourselves and our loved ones, and make it through to the other side. And if responsibly enjoying a cold beer helps, I say go for it.

Because I’d rather see an ad from Coors Light — a beer I don’t drink — being unapologetically themselves than to have to sit through some somber ad telling me for the umpteenth time that some brand is “there for me.”

Better yet, if you want to talk about a brand offering value to its audience, Coors Light also has shared recipes for beer-battered waffles and beer bread for home chefs to try out. And on a philanthropic note, the brewer hosted a pre-NFL football draft happy hour with pro football MVP Patrick Mahomes and college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit on April 22. As a thank you for their participation, Coors Light made donations to the charities of choice for both men.

I think it’s amazing when brands step up and show how they can affect positive change during a catastrophic event such as this. But I also think it’s pretty great when a brand finds ways to just be there for their audiences, bring some joy and fun, and stay relevant.

What do you think marketers? Drop me a line in the comments below, and in the meantime, check out this really handy infographic from our friends at Hero’s Journey Content about how you can be a bit more creative when talking about these “sucky” times.

30 New Ways to Say Unprecedented
Credit: Hero’s Journey Content

WWTT? Yeti+ Launches for Earth Day, Offers Unique ‘Streaming’ Content

This past Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite dealing with a pandemic and quarantines, a number of brands put out campaigns to celebrate the environment, including Yeti’s launch of Yeti+.

This past Wednesday, April 22, was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite dealing with a pandemic and quarantines, a number of brands put out campaigns to celebrate the environment, but the Earth Day campaign that caught my eye the most was from Yeti.

The Austin-based brand, known for its outdoor lifestyle products, created Yeti+, along the same vein as Apple+ or Disney+. But unlike those streaming video subscriptions, Yeti+ is free (though available for only a limited time), and has some pretty great content to watch, especially during these super stressful times.

Yeti offers Yeti+ streaming service to celebrate Earth Day
Credit: Yeti

What sort of goodies can you watch? Some fun nature documentaries? Action-packed outdoor events? Nope. You can watch streams be streamed.

The site copy reads:

We’ll be back outside before we know it. Until then, kick back, grab a cold one, and wet your appetite for the wild with one of our streams.

Click on any of the options, the video goes full screen, and you’re treated to the calming serenity of simply watching a stream — literally a body of water (each one runs about 10 minutes). If you’ve ever been to a holiday party where someone puts on a festive Yule Log video, then you get the picture.

But where the holiday Yule Log videos are often more about kitschy ambiance, I think the video offerings of Yeti+ are not only clever, but honestly, good relevant content.

They’re soothing. They’re beautiful. They take us out of our homes and transport us to a place of calm. Maybe to a place we’ve never been before. And though many of us may still be able to go outside and exercise while maintaining our stay at home rules, not everyone lives someplace this beautiful, green, and lush. Or is even physically able to go outside at all, for whatever reason.

Yeti+’s website copy may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I think their Earth Day campaign offers a much-needed escape from the harshness of this world. And in my opinion, every little bit helps. We talk about how important it is to offer value to our customers and prospects. Well, I think Yeti+ nailed it.

What do you think, marketers? Leave me a comment below!

WWTT? Draper James’ Free Dress for Teachers Giveaway Debacle

Sometimes well-intentioned plans can land a brand in hot water with customers and prospects, especially when there is a fail regarding the plan’s execution. Such is the case of Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James fashion line and the debacle it’s facing with the free dress for teachers giveaway launched earlier in April.

As I began to work on this week’s “What Were They Thinking?” post, I dug through my inbox, looking for a campaign that celebrated solidarity, creativity, or just something worth talking about this week in the world of marketing. Then I saw an email from Target Marketing friend and blogger, Chuck McLeester, and down the rabbit hole I fell as I read The New York Time’s article, “Reese Witherspoon’s Fashion Line Offered Free Dresses to Teachers. They Didn’t Mean Every Teacher.” with my morning coffee. The debacle involving a free dress for teachers giveaway brought this to mind:

The best-laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew

Who knew that on Day 36 of quarantine/isolation/social distancing/THIS (gestures wildly), I’d be quoting a Robert Burn’s poem in a “What Were They Thinking?” post, but here we are. So let’s look at the issue of not thinking through your well-intentioned plans enough, and the kind of havoc that can cause your brand, your marketing team, and your reputation in the long run.

On April 2, Reese Witherspoon’s fashion line, Draper James, shared the free dress giveaway via the following Instagram post:

Draper James Free Dress Instagram Post

Now, as my Mom has always said “It’s the thought that counts …” and while it certainly is a nice thought to offer a free dress, there are NO expectations for giveaway applicants set in the post. The post reads:

Dear Teachers: We want to say thank you. During quarantine, we see you working harder than ever to educate our children. To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress. To apply, complete the form at the link in the bio before this Sunday, April 5th, 11:59 PM ET (Offer valid while supplies last – winners with be notified April 7th)

Yes, the post states “while supplies last.” But c’mon. If there are a set amount of dresses, SAY IT. Especially when the line before reads: “To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress.”

What did most of these people see? “To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress.” Their expectations soared, and while most people would realize that there probably weren’t enough for all applicants, there also wasn’t a single expectation set. A lot of teachers — who have been working their butts off, are most likely exhausted, burnt out, and worried about their own host of concerns — got their hopes up.

What would I have done, had I written the copy? Made it really clear. Maybe something like: “To show our gratitude, Draper James is offering 250 free dresses to teachers who apply to this giveaway as a thank you. If you are not selected as a free dress recipient, we will be providing discount codes, should you want to purchase a dress from Draper James.”

Because without setting clear expectations, you have these sorts of conversations and complaints cropping up:

That’s right … when teachers signed up for the giveaway, they had to include their email address (that’s standard for most giveaways, so no issue there) … however, my question is will Draper James be using them to market to these teachers now? In most cases of giveaways, this is not a big deal because it’s in the fine print (and I’m sure it was included here, too). But the way this was executed has really turned off a lot of individuals.

In an attempt to address this and apologize, Draper James did reach out to those who applied for the giveaway and added the following messages to its Instagram story (now a highlight called DJ <3 Teachers):

Draper James Free Dress Instagram Story Part 1Draper James Free Dress Instagram Story Part 2Draper James Free Dress Instagram Story Part 3It’s something, but honestly, it feels a bit too late. There are a lot of disappointed teachers right now, and the partnership and offering of funds to the nonprofit might not be enough to completely remove this scuff from Draper James’ brand reputation.

Look, it’s hard right now, and there are so many people at brands who want to do good things for others; that is a great mindset and spirit to have. Fashion designers have shifted over to creating masks for healthcare workers; meals are being donated; there is a lot of good being done. And I think the decision makers at Draper James had very good intentions. Quoted in the New York Times article I mentioned above, Draper James SVP for Brand Marketing and Creative Marissa Cooley said:

“We felt like we moved too quickly and didn’t anticipate the volume of the response. We were really overwhelmed. It was way more volume than the company had ever seen. We expected the single-digit thousands.”

Even when you want to help, you still need to stop, think through the plan, and figure out the best way to execute it in a sustainable way.

As Chuck said to me in our email exchange about the story:

“My take on it was purely from a metrics standpoint. 3 million teachers, 77% female, 2.3 million prospects, a free offer of a valuable item — even at a paltry 1% response rate that’s 23,000 responses or 100x the number of dresses that they had to give away.”

This could have been avoided, and I bet if applicants had known there was a limited amount, it would have been received in a much better fashion. But what do you think marketers? Drop me a line in the comments below.

WWTT? So Many COVID-19 Emails … But Are There Any ‘Good’ Ones?

Right now, the world feels like a very scary, uncertain place, as we all make adjustments to our daily lives during this pandemic. But there is also a lot of room for hope and positivity. For today’s “What Were They Thinking?” post, I want to look at some COVID-19 emails I’ve received from brands and nonprofits to my personal email account, showcasing a couple that I think did an excellent job at standing out in my inbox and offering value.

Right now, the world feels like a very scary, uncertain place, as we all make adjustments to our daily lives during this pandemic. And while each day often seems weirder or scarier than the one before it, there is also a lot of room for hope and positivity. For today’s “What Were They Thinking?” post, I want to look at some COVID-19 emails I’ve received from brands and nonprofits to my personal email account, showcasing a couple that I think did an excellent job at standing out in my inbox and offering value.

Because if you’re not offering up value right now (and no, I don’t mean a sweet sale on a pair of shoes), then maybe think twice about what campaigns you’re running, especially if they include COVID-19 messaging.

Also, a little tip I’d like to offer: Consider removing inactives from your list BEFORE you message your entire list. I don’t need to know that you’re keeping your establishment clean and being decent to your employees if we interacted maybe once, back in 2014. If you can wash your hands, you also can take some time for list hygiene.

So much like an episode of MTV Cribs, step into my inbox with me, and let’s look at some examples of COVID-19 emails done right:

COVID-19 email message from Lush I received this email from Lush on March 14, and the headline reads: “Be safe, get clean.”

Already I’m thankful the subject line isn’t the usual canned “[Company name] and COVID-19 update.” Yes, in some cases we do need an update from a particular company we do business with — for example, when my hair salon emailed me how they were were taking care of their staff and the salon, how this would affect services, hours, etc, I definitely read that email. My salon is a very personal marketer to me … some others who email me, however, are not.

Back to Lush. So the subject line is great and has me curious enough to open. The main message is simple: “Wash your hands for free at Lush.” The rest of the short email says that their stores are still open in North America, come on in and wash your hands for free with no expectation of purchase.

Now yes, this can be looked at as a way to increase foot traffic, but they are offering a service that is very relevant right now (How many of us have replaced our usual goodbyes with “Wash your hands!”?) Sure, some people might make a purchase, but the focus of this email is about a beneficial service Lush wants to provide the community, wherever one of their brick and mortar stores reside.

Unfortunately, the next day I received a second email from Lush alerting me to North America store closures from March 16-29, but even that didn’t feel like a boilerplate email. You can check it out here.

The bottom line about Lush is that their emails were compassionate, offered value to their customs, and were on-brand.

Now, let’s look at a nonprofit I support:


The Western New York Land Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust that permanently protects land with significant conservation value in the Western New York (WNY) region of the Empire State. It’s a second home to me, due to the fact I went to college there and I have friends and family in the area.

While the WNYLC’s subject line is a bit closer to some of the boilerplate ones I’ve seen out there on other COVID-19 emails, what works so well is the message. It starts with a note from their Executive Director, leading off with a cancellation of a specific hike for the safety of others, as well as information about how future events will either be conducted via phone or video, or rescheduled. All important info, especially if you’re a donor who actively participates with this organization.

But what I appreciate the most is how this email ties into part of the land conservancy’s mission — to experience the land. The call to action to go outside and take it in during these uncertain times is what a lot of people need to hear: to take a break, step away from the constant news cycle or ding of email, and go breathe some fresh air. The specific mention of the Stella Niagara Preserve (land the WNYLC has protected) is fitting, and the P.S. includes a reminder that social distancing is great for the outdoors, so send photos of your favorite moments.

This call for photo submissions isn’t only user generated content, but when the WNYLC posts these images, their follows can enjoy them and feel a little less distant. Something we all need.

As marketers, before all of “this,” our jobs were to educate prospects and customers about our services and products, and to often help people be their best selves, whether professionally, personally, or both. Our creative and analytical minds were put to work building campaigns and helping support sales teams. And yes, those are all still our jobs right now.

But I think we have some new ones. We need to be there to help lift up our customers and donors (when appropriate and relevant, don’t just barge in out of nowhere). We need to make sure we share good, accurate information, no matter what the topic is. And we need to be positive … because I think keeping a positive attitude through the darkness is the only way through this. And we’re gonna get through.

Marketers, what do you think? Tell me about some thoughtful, well-executed COVID-19 emails you’ve seen in your inboxes (and if you’ve seen some cruddy ones, tell me about it on Twitter, over at @sass_marketing). And take care of yourselves, each and every one of you (Gary, stop touching your face.).

WWTT? Leap Day Fund From Stella Artois Promotes ‘Uncancelled’ Plans

Everyone does it: After a long day of work, household obligations, and more, the idea of cancelling plans to go out becomes absolute bliss. But for 2020, a year with a Leap Day, Stella Artois urged people to “uncancel” their plans for once and put the extra 24 hours to good use, supported by a Leap Day Fund.

Everyone does it: After a long day of work, household obligations, and more, the idea of cancelling plans to go out — and instead stay in with takeout, a movie or a good book, and your pajamas — becomes absolute bliss. Even more tempting when the weather is miserable out. But every cancelled plan is time lost with someone … and time is one thing that is impossible to get back once it’s gone. So for 2020, a year with a Leap Day, Stella Artois urged people to “uncancel” their plans for once and put the extra 24 hours to good use. To sweeten the deal, the Anheuser-Busch beer brand created a Leap Day Fund, and produced a short video to support the campaign.

The Leap Day Fund totals $366,000, to align with the 366 days in a Leap Year — and while the short film dramatizes the idea of receiving a reduced restaurant bill, the actual Leap Day Fund promotion functions a bit differently (but with the same focus of getting people to spend time together over a beer).

According to the Leap Day Fund promotion’s terms and conditions, consumers 21-plus can claim a portion of the fund to cover their Stella Artois purchase (up to a 24-pack) by sharing the film using the hashtag #UnCancelPromo and tagging someone else 21-plus they wanted to spend Leap Day with. Participants also needed to  be following @StellaArtois  on Twitter and/or Facebook, as well as make the beer purchase during the Leap Day period, defined as Feb. 26- Feb. 29.

Stella Artois even made it extremely easy (at least on Twitter) to take part in the promotion via the “Tweet #UnCancelPromo” as seen below:

WWTT? Stella Artois's Leap Day Fund Urges People 'Uncancel' Plans
Hit the button and your Twitter account is activated with a pre-filled tweet … you just need to tag someone!

Beyond the video and social media components, Stella Artois also had digital out-of-home ad (OOH) placements installed in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. These included  a QR code leading to the Leap Day film, along with a countdown reminding consumers to take advantage of the extra time on Leap Day to make plans and tap into the Leap Day Fund.

To be clear, this is a rebate promotion, and participants have until March 14 to submit their redemption, so while Leap Day has come and gone, sales numbers are not in yet.

I like that this campaign really puts for the idea of spending time together with the people you care about (and drinking). It reminds me a bit of Chik-Fil-A’s gift of time holiday promotion last year, just a little less family-oriented (unless that family is 21-plus, of course).

Centering it around Leap Day is clever, especially since it’s the kind of campaign you’ll only see every four years. But what do you think about the Stella Artois’s Leap Day Fund? Drop me a line in the comments!