You are currently viewing 3 Key Takeaways from the Best Quarantine Marketing Campaigns

3 Key Takeaways from the Best Quarantine Marketing Campaigns

What’s in this article:

  • How to use humor like Match
  • How to communicate sincerity like Expedia
  • How to deploy nostalgia like Budweiser

With widespread shutdowns, remote work, and a rollercoaster market, the challenges that businesses faced this past year felt made up.

But the relentless instability also created opportunity. And some brands saw that silver lining. This post will show you how they best adapted their marketing strategy to meet the challenges of the last 12 months.

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How Match used humor to help us survive

Made by Ryan Renold’s ad agency Maximum Effort, Match’s “Match Made in Hell” campaign was an instant classic. The premise is simple: 2020 was such an awful year that its only — romantic — match could be Satan himself.

Every ad contains clever gags, but here are a few of the best:

  • 2020 and Satan take selfies in front of a dumpster fire.
  • Satan found 2020 by using “custom filtering” to weed out joy, happiness, toilet paper, and reason.
  • 2020 asks Satan where he’s from; he says, “hell,” and she excitedly responds, “me too”! The delivery is just perfect.

The angle tied the company’s value proposition (identifying compatible partners) to our shared sentiment about this period with precisely calibrated humor. If it were more detached, the joke would feel calloused. If it were more realistic, there would be little to laugh about. But the tone was just right, giving the ads a winsomeness that was remarkable.

The use of humor also was an excellent brand differentiator. While most brands tried to grapple with the hardship of the past year by adopting a serious tone, Match’s alternative tack set them apart.

Key takeaway

Sometimes the best way to commiserate is through humor. may have struck gold, but there are still opportunities to connect with thoughtful comedy.

How Expedia used simplicity to communicate sincerity

On the other end of the tonal spectrum lies Expedia’s excellent “Let’s Take a Trip” spot. As difficult as it is to use humor to brighten the mood during this trying time, sincerity can be even more challenging. The approach can easily backfire, especially if the message feels contrived, overly sentimental, or too poetic.

To avoid these pitfalls, Expedia chose minimalism. The entire ad takes place in a single room in which a couple creates a series of homemade travel plays. The pair hike up a hill made of shirts, dive into a pool of blue sheets, and drive a car built from a coffee table. The onscreen text and supporting narration are sparse, communicating a simple sentiment: Right now, we can only travel in our heads, but soon enough, the world will open up again.

No pandering or preaching — just sincere well wishes. And it worked beautifully.

Key takeaway

When it comes to communicating emotion, understated is often better: especially during a period where so many have undergone distress in one way or another. If you’re aiming to strike this tone in your marketing, consider keeping things simple.

How Budweiser used the past to create hope in the present

Nostalgic media, like Stranger things, has been on the rise for years, but the desire to rewind the clock has rarely felt more overwhelming than it did in 2020. And Budweiser, perhaps as consistently in step with the Zeitgeist as any brand has ever been, captured that sentiment with a redux of a classic: the “wassup” ad.

Budweiser took the commercial, which takes place entirely indoors, and dubbed over phrases like “watching the game” with “quarantining.” But the brand accomplished far more with this resurrection than triggering fond memories of Super Bowl nachos.

By keeping the alterations to a minimum and choosing to be creative where every action is inside, the ad cleverly highlighted one simple fact: We’re not so far from where we want to be. We can still relax on the couch, watch TV, and call our friends. We can still connect.

And that feeling is much more than just nostalgia. It’s hope.

Key takeaway

If you’re considering using nostalgia to reach your audience, don’t forget that you can draw parallels to the here and now. It’s one thing to reminisce. It’s even better to restore.

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