Social Spotlight: Four brands that shine through dark times

Four Brands That Shine Through Dark Times

Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.


Though we’re all adjusting to the new reality of working from home and managing new best practices for our businesses, few in marketing are on the very visible front lines like social marketers. As many brands pause more traditional advertising, close retail locations and scramble to put new infrastructure in place to support working from home, supporting customers and audiences falls more and more in the digital space. While many brands have found innovative ways to extend their offerings to social media, the most successful are doing one thing that’s available to all of us: Holding true to the fabric of the brands they’ve built and adapting them for the current situation. Here are four examples of brands excelling in the new normal:

The Shedd Aquarium 

With its doors closed to the public to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Shedd’s animal caregivers sought to keep their charges’ routines as normal as possible, and that included providing opportunities for exploration and exercising normal behaviors. For Edward and Annie, a bonded pair of rockhopper penguins, that included taking a walk around the deserted institution to visit with the other residents. The Shedd’s social team captured their walk and shared the video with their fans and followers, leaning into the situation to create an experience that wouldn’t be possible under normal circumstances.

What you can learn: View your limitations as opportunities to try new things

You may not have access to your usual equipment, locations or the physical team you’ve come to rely on, but the good news is that your audience is living with similar realities. We’re all in this together, and the opportunity has never been more ripe to try something new.

Tito’s Vodka

The swiftness of the global pandemic has given rise to a lot of misinformation, especially on the real-time channel of social media. Tito’s employs brand monitoring and social listening to keep a pulse on its brand and industry, and became aware early of misinformation–that vodka was an adequate substitute for hand sanitizer–being proliferated on social. Tito’s responded quickly and authoritatively, noting not only that its vodka wouldn’t properly sanitize but also announcing a company commitment to using its distilleries to produce FDA-approved hand sanitizer over the coming weeks.

What you can learn: Look for opportunities in the uncertainty 

There are brand opportunities you’ve never conceived of, and many of them are becoming apparent as we adjust to a different world. Using social listening, keyword tracking or brand monitoring to surface these opportunities (and threats, which can turn into opportunities, as evidenced by the Tito’s example) should be a key part of your social strategy in uncertain times. The news changes daily, and in order to surf the changes to our shared experience, you need to be aware of them as soon as they happen.

CorePower Yoga

Many of the hardest-hit businesses in the current climate are those that facilitate in-person experiences, and CorePower Yoga’s business model is built on readily available, membership-based access to physical yoga classes and space. The brand acted quickly to adapt that business model for the shelter-in-place reality by offering virtual, online classes. As you might imagine, this massive upheaval in its day-to-day operations was not without hiccups, including technical difficulties with its online portal and membership management challenges. But what CorePower did exceptionally well during this challenging time was to remain transparent and authentic in communicating the challenges (and steps it was taking to resolve them) to its engaged community. Its members knew what was happening and how it was being addressed at all times, bringing them into the experience and giving them the assurance they needed that the brand was on the case.

What you can learn: Be who you are, even in a crisis situation

CorePower made adjustments to its business to serve its customers during the current crisis, but more importantly it retained the open, authentic communication they had come to expect from the brand even as it navigated business-threatening challenges. It didn’t try to pass off the blame for the kinks or throw up its brand hands in frustration, rather it maintained its calm, collected and compassionate brand persona. This consistency and accountability inspires the kind of trust that keeps your customers with you through a crisis.

Alterra Mountain Company

As the controlling entity of 14 of North America’s premier ski resorts, Alterra Mountain Company’s primary business season was cut short by the current pandemic. It was forced to close its resorts in order to quell the spread of the coronavirus, leaving its passholders with many questions about how the company would handle the fact that their pass value was cut in half by the closures. Alterra anticipated these questions and swiftly issued a statement to address them proactively, demonstrating the brand’s understanding (and prioritization) of its audience and what’s important to them.

What you can learn: Be proactive, especially when the message is difficult for your audience

Don’t’ wait for your audience to call you out for your silence, especially when you have difficult news to deliver. Lean on your understanding of their unique needs and relationships with your brand to anticipate their concerns and questions, and work to proactively provide your brand’s stance. Even if the message is hard to swallow, your thoughtful, transparent and proactive action will reinforce how much you care about your audience and what they need from your brand during a difficult time.

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