How brands are getting creative to encourage social distancing

With more than a third of the world stuck at home due to coronavirus lockdowns, brands have come up with creative ways to reach their audiences.

We’ve all received barrage of emails from brands’ CEOs reassuring customers that we’re all in this together. We see daily statistics of coronavirus cases and hear about crucial decisions made by world leaders all over the news and social feeds. Anxiety and uncertainty is at an all-time high.

At this time of crisis, media and communications are not normal. As the pandemic looms and affects people’s livelihoods, brands are facing a risky situation with hyper-sensitive audiences. Acting like “business as usual” would be insensitive but not saying anything could make a brand seem aloof. 

According to a report by Advertiser Perceptions, 49% of brands have postponed campaigns and 34% have canceled them completely. The disconnect here is that with people stuck at home, there’s a significant increase in the use of streaming services and media consumption through mobile phones.

In these peculiar times, what’s the appropriate way for a brand to react? Here are some creative ways in which brands have been responding.

Brands adapt their logos to promote the idea of social distancing

McDonalds, Zara, Audi, Volkswagen, and Coca-Cola have all given their own visual take on social distancing by altering or animating their logos to depict distance.

McDonald’s Brazil, for example, changed their profile picture on Facebook to a version of their logo where the iconic golden arches are separated.

Image source: Dezeen

Volkswagen has likewise created a social distancing version of its logo with space between V and W shared on social media.

Image source: Dezeen

Zara plays with the kerning of the letters in its logo with an animation posted on Instagram.

Audi does a similar thing by spreading an animation of its logo with the rings spaced out. 

Image source: Audi

Finally, Coca-Cola takes this to another level and uses the iconic Times Square billboard to spread an important message about responsible social distancing.

Coca-Cola turns over social channels to spread expert news

There’s so much buzz on social media—especially in times of crisis. With panic-fueled rumors circulating, it becomes difficult to know what is real and what is not real. So in order to cut through the noise and help proliferate reliable news, Coca-Cola has also turned over their social media to experts that can spread verified information about COVID-19. 

P&G takes to TikTok to spread social distancing messages 

Flattening the curve can only be successful if everyone participates. But how can social distancing regulations reach Gen Zers who don’t necessarily listen to public service announcements? Through the help of an influencer named Charli D’Amelio, P&G was able to make the #distancedance go viral, generating 8.7 billion views and 1.7 million response videos. With every video response that tags #PGpartner, P&G will donate in kind to charities like Feeding America and Matthew 25: Ministries. 

Although it’s unclear whether this was effective in actually keeping this generation at home, the role of influencers and social media in reaching young audiences has proven to be significant.

Taco Bell and Apple use user-generated content

With pre-produced ads facing cancellations and lockdown restrictions everywhere, it’s nearly impossible for brands to create full productions for new ad concepts. 

Taco Bell has come up with a short video that combines user-generated videos from drive-thru customers while Apple spreads the message that “Creativity goes on” with a touching video compilation of user-generated photos and videos of people keeping themselves busy at home.

Key takeaways

Gone are the days when advertising was a one-way communication from brands to consumers. With customers more empowered than ever, companies face the challenge of responding to the current crisis while staying true to their brand. In the examples above, marketers have found ways to remain sensitive, responsible, and memorable as we transition to a “new normal.” Here are some tips to help your brand do the same:

Be agile and relevant. We live in uncertain times and consumers expect brands to take a stand on current issues. It’s important to keep adapting communications to the current context. Not only should the content adapt, but even the creation process and channels of communication, like in the examples of P&G, Taco Bell, and Apple.

Crisis calls for creativity. Brands have proven that challenges can be overcome with creative and novel ideas. We have seen this in the examples of social distancing logos and campaigns that find unique ways to make their public feel uplifted and united.

Empathy is more important than ever. Brands have to toe the line between effective communication and abusing the crisis. At this time, it’s important to shift focus from “how to make profit” to “how to help.” Brands hold a certain power and influence that can be leveraged to make the message of social distancing even louder.


Black and white JudithWith proud roots in the Philippines, Judith San Juan is a digital marketing professional pursuing her Master in Visual & Digital Media at IE School of Human Sciences & Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, playing with her dog, and creating videos of her travels. She proudly serves as Audiovisual Guru at Rewire Mag. Reach out to her at