Real Time Banter: Marketing and staying agile during COVID and Election Season

In this Real Time Banter webinar, LiveIntent SVP of global marketing, Kerel Cooper, and VP of marketing, Nick Dujnic, speak with Maya Warburg, media manager of national accounts for Ad Council, about marketing during COVID and the election season.

Key insights from Maya Warburg

For more than 75 years, nonprofit organization the Ad Council has been running social impact and awareness campaigns on behalf of its partners, including other nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies.

“Every year, we look at the most critical issues our country is facing,” said Warburg. “They’re always national in scope and there’s always a very clear goal, be it raising awareness or motivating someone to go get tested for lung cancer if they’re a previous smoker. There’s a huge array.”

Needless to say, the Ad Council has had a busy year. They’re currently running 34 campaigns across a slew of categories, including health, safety, education, community, and environment.

When COVID first took center stage in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tapped the Ad Council to deliver a rapid response campaign. By mid-to-late March, it was up and running. The ads incorporated the CDC’s recommendations as well as high-quality creative via Viacom and NBC Universal.

“[The campaign has] evolved as the recommendations have continued to evolve,” said Warburg. “At first it was: What is the coronavirus? How do you stay safe? Personal hygiene, social distancing, high-risk specifics, messaging to people 65+ and with preexisting conditions. It has since continued to evolve into messages about mental health, and continual social distancing and mask wearing.”

To help other brands share this lifesaving content – and avoid the risk of spreading misinformation – the Ad Council also created coronavirus toolkits and templates that companies can customize for their audiences. They drove 2 billion impressions in March alone and 31 billion impressions to date.

These toolkits have been especially helpful for brands that are figuring out whether to jump into trending conversations with their own content or just share content that’s already been created and vetted.

“In terms of racial injustice, we immediately put Black Lives Matter work on our site for distribution, because we took a step back and said, ‘Which organizations are already doing this work that we can amplify?'” Warburg said. “Don’t reinvent the wheel. A lot of this research exists. A lot of these audiences are developed. Marketers can really reach out and join these coalitions.”

The Ad Council also partners with LiveIntent to distribute targeted campaigns across email newsletters from premium publishers.

“The mode that you’re in when you’re reading a newsletter is so much more captive and engaged than when you’re doom-scrolling through other platforms,” Warburg said. “If you’re reading about the debate and then you see an ad about voting or racial injustice, it feels a lot more organic. From a consumer experience perspective, [email is] invaluable to us.”

Best practices for sharing valuable information in ads

  • Work with subject matter experts. “We always bring in subject matter experts to inform our work. We never invent it on our own. There’s a ton of research that goes into making sure there isn’t misinformation.”
  • Lean on one another. “There’s this assumption that organizations are competitive and have to have their own lane. One of the beautiful things that has come out of this last era is we see brands coming together [that you wouldn’t expect.] Our ‘Love Has No Labels’ diversity and inclusion campaign is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Budweiser, Bank of America, and State Farm. Don’t be afraid to lean on each other and partner up to join in conversations.”
  • Find the right partners. “The cheesy answer is that we have amazing, amazing partners who help us get the word out on all of these campaigns. And we chat with them every week, every month, about our priority issue areas and theirs. It’s super important that we have all these amazing organizations that help us produce and distribute the work on a really large scale so that we can meet everyone across the country with these broad and critical messages.”

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