Brands amp up social distancing messaging to spread COVID-19 awareness

From changing logos to offering home-delivery services, brands have scored long-term brownie points with short-term risky counterintuitive messaging, say experts

e4m by Shreshtha Verma
Updated: Mar 31, 2020 4:26 PM
social distancing

Did you ever expect that MakeMyTrip will one day ask you to avoid making that trip? Or that fast-food chains like McDonald's or Burger King will tell you to stay back and eat whatever's at home? The novel coronavirus has made that happen. This pandemic has rewired the marketing game. It has brought us to a point where brands across industries are taking counterintuitive measures to market themselves. And in so doing, they have left behind their entire raison d'être. From HDFC to Coca-cola, everyone is standing strong with the government to spread COVID-19 awareness and preach the importance of social distancing.  Considering the severity of the issues, a lot of brands altered their logo or tagline.

McDonald's was the first brand to witness an alteration in its logo. While McDonald’s in Brazil shared a reimagined version of their logo to promote social distancing, they're making every possible effort to promote social distancing in India too. The global fast-food conglomerate, which is known for its innovative marketing campaigns, requested their customers to stay away from their burgers.

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Talking to exchange4media Arvind RP, Director, Marketing and Communications, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. - McDonald’s India (West and South), said, the safety and well being of our people and our customers has always been our top most priority. "As a responsible corporate citizen, we hope to help the Government and the nation at large in tackling the current situation,” added Arvind.

McDonald's is not the only brand following this mantra. There's a host of brands like AXNIndia, Sony BBC, HDFC, Coca-Cola, MakeMyTrip, goibibo etc. joining the trend.

According to experts, the move will help brands reposition themselves as a responsible one.

But how does altering the logo or tagline really make a difference? "It shows the magnitude of the problem that we are facing today," said Mukund Raina, Branch Head, Enormous Brands, Delhi. "For brands from across the world to do this shows that this one behaviour change is our the best bet to overcome what the world faces today," he added. Most experts applaud the move, stating that the temporary change in logo is going to earn them brownie points in the long run.

Chaaya Baradhwaaj, Founder & MD, BC Web Wise also feels that the logo or the tagline is a strong medium for any brand to circulate a message. She observed that a logo represents all that a brand is about. "It may actually just be right to do this as it establishes a stand they are taking to support the stance taken by authorities to contain the issue," Baradhwaaj said.

"If the communication is done smartly, it does help to have a larger buy into the directive of social distancing. The change in logo is also creating a buzz on social media. Brands like MakeMyTrip have gone aggressive in promoting their campaign to spread awareness," she added.

In this unprecedented time, travel & tourism has been one of the most severely impacted sectors due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, leading players like MakeMyTrip, goibibo, ClearTrip, Yatra are perfectly managing to stay connected with people. 

 goibibo is currently focusing on encouraging people to set aside their travel aspirations for a while and prioritise social distancing by #stayingindoors. Similarly, MakeMyTrip weaves a narrative around a compelling callout to travellers on behalf of nature, who is understandably worried and is willing to wait as people stay indoors during this period of crisis. 

 "While travel is the least of priority for people right now, we know for sure that their longing to take the next trip is growing with every passing day. And, this is exactly the moment where we would like to meet our customers through our communication across our social platform," said Sunil Suresh, Group Chief Marketing Officer, MakeMyTrip.

 The initiative is joined by brands in the category of news as well. Popular news network, iTV has also altered their logo. They made significant changes in their logo to promote social distancing and launched its campaigns- #StayAtHome by NewsX and #GharParRahe initiative by India News.

कोरोना के खिलाफ लड़ाई में आगे आया iTV Network, हिंदी न्यूज चैनल ‘इंडिया न्यूज’ (#Indianews) ने ‘#GharParRahe’ और अंग्रेजी न्यूज चैनल ‘न्यूज एक्स’ (@NewsX ) ने ‘#StayAtHome’ जैसे कैंपेन लॉन्च किए हैं @PMOIndia @narendramodi @MoHFW_INDIA @MIB_India

Kartikeya Sharma, Founder and Promoter of iTV Network, said, “It is a time when the entire humanity must come together and take responsibility to do their part in controlling the spread of the disease. Here we take a look at the brands who are actively spreading awareness on social distancing.


Coca Cola

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Today, being apart is the best way of being together.

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 Eros Now

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Now more than ever, we are one team.⠀ #playinside #playfortheworld

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