Is life going back to normal soon? Google, Budweiser, and Walgreens certainly think so. The brands recently released emotional new ads saying farewell to homeschooling, virtual happy hours, and endless Zoom calls. But as countries roll out the vaccine at different rates, are messages of hope resonating with consumers – or do they seem insensitive to people still in lockdown?
Not Everyone Is Vaccinated Yet
Israel, the US, and the UK are leading the way in terms of vaccinations, with over 61 million fully vaccinated U.S. residents. But across Europe, Africa, and Asia, there are many countries where less than 20% of the population has been vaccinated – in some cases, less than 1%.
So, while there is reason to be optimistic, there is still some way to go. With that in mind, let’s dive into the campaigns and see how consumers have reacted so far.
Google recently released an emotional spot titled “Get Back To What You Love”. The minute-long video starts by showing common Corona-related search terms, such as "quarantine," "social distancing," and "lockdown".
Google goes on to show how the world will hopefully be opening up again soon, allowing people to enjoy in-person gatherings once again. The search terms are replaced by what used to be normal, and hopefully will be again.
The calendar notice “virtual happy hour” is replaced by simply “happy hour”, while “sweat pants” becomes “pants”. A Google Maps theater location switches from "temporarily closed" to "open." The spot concludes with the search term: "covid vaccine near me."
The video generated 8.4 million views on YouTube (as of April 16th, 2021) and received positive traction on Twitter, with users even saying the spot made them cry.
Google has partnered with the Ad Council on an initiative designed to promote vaccine efforts and education, including a “Get The Facts” campaign running in April. So, it seems we can expect more COVID-related campaign messaging from the tech giant.
Budweiser recently released an ad called “Good Times are Coming.” It shows photos of people drinking beer together, followed by the rhetorical question, “Remember this?”
The sentimental spot ends with the tagline “Good times are coming. Now we have a shot” as Jimmy Durante’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” plays. This comes after the brand made the decision to put their ad dollars towards COVID-vaccine education, instead of running a Superbowl ad.
The spot amplifies the brand’s ongoing message around the importance of vaccination and how we can expect to return to the shared moments we have all missed.
The message might seem unrelated to beer. But of course, the brand has a vested interest in enabling people to gather in bars, restaurants, and parties selling beer.
Monica Rustgi, VP of Marketing at Budweiser, said the spot uses old user-generated content of people enjoying their beer. She explained, “The light is at the end of the tunnel, finally, so we thought these shared moments around beer are really when it feels like humanity should be a little bit back to normal.”
The spot elicited an emotional reaction on YouTube and Twitter, with one user commenting, “This made me cry. I miss moments like this with my friends.”
Walgreens, the largest pharmacy in the US, has launched an omnichannel marketing campaign educating people around the topic of vaccination. This is our shot is the first of two 30-second spots narrated by John Legend, who will also represent the brand on social media and in interviews. The spots will air on broadcast and cable TV as well as during NBA programming on ABC and ESPN.
“This is our shot” refers to the role vaccination will play in getting back to normal, and shows emotional visuals of the in-person gatherings such as weddings, graduations, and family reunions.
John Legend stated, “Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is our shot at getting back to the moments that matter most — time with friends, live concerts and family barbeques. I am proud to team up with Walgreens to encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccination, and help reach communities hit hardest by the pandemic.”
So far, the spot hasn’t generated as much interaction as the campaigns from Google and Budweiser. Walgreen’s YouTube video has just over 1,000 views and some critical comments from those skeptical of the vaccine. However, there is still more to come from the pharmacy giant.
The second spot will be released in a few weeks and will feature John Legend making an emotional appeal for the public to get vaccinated. Walgreens made headlines recently for partnering with rideshare app Uber to facilitate the distribution of the COVID-vaccine in underprivileged communities.
Now, the pharmacy giant is ramping up its marketing efforts as the availability of the vaccine increases, leveraging its website, social media channels and influencer marketing to amplify the message.
On April 18, the brand will run a variety special on NBC called “Roll Up Your Sleeves”, where celebrities, pharmacists and influencers will encourage the public to get vaccinated.
The emotional ad campaigns show a light at the end of the tunnel – something we are all desperate to see after so long.
Vaccines are set to become available to all U.S. adults by May 1st, and Google, Budweiser, and Walgreens are all US brands. Your average Russian, Indian or Peruvian might not be able to identify with the optimistic messaging, given that less than 10% of the population in these countries has been vaccinated.
Nonetheless, consumer reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. It seems we all need some hope right now, no matter where we are in the world.