Some examples on how not to do COVID-19 marketing

So nobody knows what the next few months hold and I’m not any wiser than any other shmuck out there. I do know, however, that some brands are pretty gross lately and I feel like calling them out. I mean, what else have I got to do?

Number 1 (or Number 2, I guess?) – Who Gives a Crap

I used to really love this brand. It’s sustainable. It’s snarky.

But Who Gives a Crap ran out of toilet paper in late February-ish. They enabled people to sign up for updates and then this email above went out mid-March. Based on this sign-up on their site:

Who seriously thought this was a good idea? How many people signed off on this email and they were like yup, looks good, let’s send it off to thousands of people?

Nobody wants to read this. No. Body. There is no value to it. Especially as people are being reminded of a product they don’t have any most everyone is trying to get right now.

To add insult to injury, I took a photo last month too of one of my own rolls: This isn’t funny now. This marketing feels crass and just really terrible.

Number 2 – Door Dash

Personal thanks on this one too as my husband and I got an expensive piece of direct mail sent to our house…and we don’t qualify for any of their services.

AKA we got a coupon in the mail and we can’t use it.

Direct mail is expensive. Blasting out a coupon to everyone in the country, regardless of they can or cannot use your coupon, is expensive.

All I’ve learned as a consumer is that I never want to use this brand, personally.

Number 3 – Activision Blizzard

Stop. Sending. Sales. Emails.

OMG.

Now is NOT the time to be finding your groove with sending sales emails and pushing on e-commerce, Blizzard.

Also – you’re training to people to wait for sales, which isn’t a great idea either.

But more importantly there’s a pandemic going on. This feels so entirely insensitive and ridiculous to be plowing ahead and trying to push sales out and force warehouse employees to work like nothing’s happening. Which, how on earth are they shipping this stuff out, anyway? There’s no way in hell they’re an essential company. Speaking of –

Number 4 – GameStop

YOU’RE NOT AN ESSENTIAL COMPANY. WHY DID YOU STAY OPEN AND JEOPARDIZE PEOPLE FOR WEEKS.

THAT WHOLE SITUATION WAS INSANE AND IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY.

GameStop declaring them an essential business reminds me of Michael Scott.

So what’s good marketing right now?

I mean, hell if I know.

I don’t think people should be shilly right now. And I don’t think people should be capitalizing on this pandemic by overreaching or over-messaging like the examples listed above.

People are anxious. They’re lonely. They’re getting laid off in droves due to the looming recession. And hundreds to thousands of people are dying right now globally.

If you’re in the games industry, you may need to get creative and branch into new tactics, especially with the dearth of conferences this year. If you have the money, consider putting it into new places. Online ad spends are plummeting right now for bigger brands which may be an opportunity for smaller brands, given the high rates of digital media consumption as people are trapped at home.

But also – don’t overdo it. As AngelList Weekly (a resource for start-ups and angel investors) shared on March 12th, RIP Good Times. Sequoia, a notable venture capital fund, sent this presentation around in 2008 and it provides guidance on how to run a startup to survive the business and economic challenges posed by a Black Swan event like the coronavirus. Two big take-aways: money is going to dry up, sales and marketing are going to fall apart.

It is now prudent to prepare for the worst. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯