CVS, Olive Garden and Sam’s Club coronavirus ads rank high in likeability

Linda J. Dodson

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Consumers are responding positively to some ads that address the coronavirus, according to a new report Ace Metrix shared with Marketing Dive. CVS Health, Olive Garden and Sam’s Club scored high on the report’s likeability rankings, with consumers finding their ads 18% more relevant, 11% more likeable and 12% more informative than normal ads.
  • Some 84% of consumers said brands should help out during the pandemic, and four of the five highest-scoring ads shared how the brand was adapting during lockdowns. As of April 1, 21% of ads mentioning the virus, its associated illness or the pandemic overall came from the automotive industry, 19% from restaurant brands, 16% from telecommunications and 12% from retailers.​
  • Ads that mentioned sales and delivery options scored high on likeability, as they provide useful service information for customers. CVS’ “Be Prepared” spot promotes prescription delivery service, and Olive Garden’s promotion around money-saving deals and curbside pickup both appealed to consumers. Sam’s Club’s “Thank You, All” ad ranked the most likable for celebrating the hard work of its employees.

Dive Insight:

Brands are moving quickly to adjust their marketing in response to the pandemic, and Ace Metrix suggests that certain types of messaging resonate with consumers. Ads that discuss the coronavirus are perceived as more relevant and likeable, signaling that, though news of the pandemic is omnipresent, many people want to discuss it and see how businesses are adjusting to fit new needs and mindsets.

The report also indicates that brands looking to address the pandemic must do so in a way that is specific and highlights how they’re supporting customers, employees and the community in response to the crisis. While brands don’t need to mention the COVID-19 illness by name, the report found that vague references such as “these times” underperformed 7% for attention and 6% for likeability. ​

CVS and Olive Garden’s ads ranked highly because they detail how they brands are adapting services to continue serving customers amid widespread retail closures. Olive Garden is offering discounts and curbside pickup, and CVS is delivering prescriptions so that consumers can avoid going to pharmacies for medical necessities. Sam’s Club’s spot performed well on likeability because it highlights the brave contributions staffers are making by coming into work to ensure people have access to groceries.​

A separate Ace Metrix study found that recent ads by Guinness and Ford also appealed to consumers looking for supportive messaging. Guinness explained how it’s donating money to support its community while Ford promoted a financial relief program, suggesting that brands can make connections with viewers through understanding the economic realities of the pandemic.

Seventy-five percent of consumers surveyed by Ace Metrix also said brands should step up and help out during the pandemic. Ads addressing the crisis should not just use words, but should visually show actions and good storytelling, according to survey responses.​

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