The Covid-19 pandemic was of course a challenging, heartbreaking, scary and unprecedented time. For all of us – from individuals to businesses and brands – it meant a complete change to everything we knew. That meant that TV adverts had to change, as buying habits shifted and we all spent a lot more time in front of our screens.
There were lots of creative and unique takes on adverts during the pandemic. With so many of us watching more TV than ever before, they had to be good to catch our attention! Here are some of the very best pandemic TV ads…
“Creativity Goes On” – Apple, 2020
Apple TV adverts are always remarkable for their simplicity and instantly recognisable design. This ad from the peak of the coronavirus days is a collage of images and clips from a range of people during lockdown.
The advert is all about the many ways to be creative people found during lockdown. From playing chess over Zoom calls to live-streamed DJ sets, and home workouts to working from home. Clips of real people including children, parents, friends and grandparents are interspersed with clips of celebrities during lockdown. The Apple Covid ad features Oprah Winfrey giving a talk to Lily James reading a story and John Krasinski filming in his home office. It’s a celebration of the many ways we found to be resilient and make the best of the most challenging times.
A St Patrick’s Day Message – Guinness, 2020
Even in the early months of 2020, there were warning signs that life as we knew it was going to change. As St Patrick’s Day 2020 rolled around, lots of people were staying away from pubs, parades and public spaces. Guinness took the opportunity to show alternative ways to still have a traditional St Patty’s Day celebration while staying at home.
Though According to this TV spot from March 2020, what matters most is being with people you care about. There’s also a section dedicated to thanking emergency frontline workers and everyone working together during lockdown. The advert also makes sure to remind people to return to pubs and bars once safe, and ends with a reminder that the Guinness factory has a 9,000-year lease – so plenty of time to get a proper pint!
Life Without Tech – Currys PC World, 2020
With social distancing and working from home very much the norm by just a few months into 2020, technology quickly became even more important than it was before. With home deliveries becoming essential, online retailers like Currys PC World became a lifeline for everyone. Working from home meant new office equipment was required, and days shut inside during lockdown led to the need for new tablets and gadgets galore.
This Currys PC World TV ad shows clips of normal people using technology in every element of their daily lockdown lives – from using the washing machine and vacuum cleaning to group internet calls and classes. Then the voiceover asks us to imagine life without technology – impossible! As we all learned during the coronavirus pandemic, our gadgets are everything!
Thank You For Not Riding – Uber, 2020
While adverts are normally all about persuading people to use a product, marketing during the pandemic was a little bit different. As there were guidelines on going outside, social distancing and travel, ‘normal’ things like hopping in a taxi became distant memories.
Ride-share apps like Uber found themselves working towards bringing frontline workers to their jobs, or filling in the gaps in public transport in the pandemic era. They also found themselves significantly down on custom, as people stayed home for their own health and the health of the drivers themselves.
This Uber advert – created with agency Wieden + Kennedy – was popular across TV and social media, and encouraged users to “stay home for everyone who can’t”. The unusual stance of seeking to encourage people to stay away from a product might seem risky, but it seems to have paid off for Uber. The ad has almost 500k views on YouTube alone, and Uber announced YoY revenue growth in 2022, proving the company’s decision to focus on people over profits during the pandemic was a wise one.
Get Back To What You Love – Google, 2021
As lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures eased in 2021, the world started to open back up again. People were able to revisit old routines, start going out more, and generally start to return to normal life.
Google knew that people were keen to get back to normal and start making happy memories again. This advert cleverly shows multiple online searches deleting words like ‘pandemic’ and ‘quarantine’ being changed. Business listings change from closed to open, and plans can be changed from ‘virtual’ to real life. The ad ends with a search bar reading “covid vaccine near me”. This advert poignantly sums up the start of a post-Covid world, perfectly encapsulating all the ways we use Google and how times have changed.
Do you have a favourite pandemic TV advert? Let us know below in the comments!