Thinking back to this time last year and pondering what the dawn of a new decade might bring, it’s safe to say that no one could have predicted what was looming on the horizon. From a global pandemic, protests and riots ushering in a new era of activism, the emergence of the necessity of online learning and remote working, it has been far from ‘business as usual’!
Understanding and having to react to the unprecedented changes we’ve seen in 2020 demonstrates just how important it is for businesses, movements and causes to connect with their audiences and the people in order to make real progress in these rapidly changing social and economic times.
Below are the PR campaigns we think nailed it!
Joe Wicks MBE (a.k.a. The Body Coach) is a British fitness coach, TV presenter, author, and most recently added to his list of credentials, ‘The World’s P.E. Teacher’.
With millions of children around the world out of school, and many not getting the physical activity they have been used to, Wicks took it upon himself to get families exercising together whilst in self-isolation by streaming live workouts on YouTube every morning at 9 a.m. called ‘P.E. with Joe!’. Complete with a warmup, workout and cool down, the 30-minute workouts, quickly took off, gaining positive endorsement by schools and the NHS as well as the media with many TV and radio interviews. Within the first week Joe had attracted a staggering 15 million viewers worldwide watching the morning sessions.
As you can expect this brought in some hefty YouTube advertising revenue (over £580,000), which Wicks has donated directly to NHS Trusts, along with further proceeds made from T-shirts that he has been selling to help generate further fundraising.
Why we love it: In a time of uncertainty, Joe could be counted on to provide a cheery, positive, and upbeat morning pick me up, lifting the spirits of people of all ages and ability. At the same time, he actively encouraged and empowered them to not let their fitness and wellbeing fall by the wayside. This is a fantastic example of how positivity and engagement is the best way to captivate and connect with an audience.
One of many social issues brought under the spotlight during Covid-19 is the child food poverty crisis that has long impacted millions of underprivileged children across the UK. This is highlighted in part to Manchester United star, Marcus Rashford MBE’s campaign to extend free meals during the school holidays.
This major public campaign spearheaded by Rashford brought together a coalition of charities and businesses, calling on the Government to implement a National Food Strategy. It also launched a petition to #EndChildFoodPoverty that has been signed by over 1.1 million people. Finally, it made the Government sit up and take tackling children’s food poverty seriously, prompting them to release a funding package worth more than £400m.
Find out more: https://endchildfoodpoverty.org/
Why we love it: By using his star power reputation and credibility, Marcus Rashford kickstarted the campaign to get the nation on board to support this initiative which successfully lobbied MPs to fund free school lunches. He did this with no hidden agenda, using language that was true and authentic to empower people whilst backed it up with real action to show he was personally involved every step of the way. A truly shining example of how people with a high profile can use their celebrity status to get people talking about issues that really matter and help create positive change.
If we as adults found it difficult to adjust to social distancing measures – imagine how children must have felt?
That’s exactly why creators of The Gruffalo, author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, joined forces to reimagine the beloved children’s stories so that youngsters could get to grips with the ongoing pandemic.
The dynamic duo brought to life a series of images detailing the Gruffalo, Stick Man, The Smeds and The Smoos and Zog all coping with social distancing, homeschooling and isolation.
The twelve stories were a light-hearted attempt at helping parents explain to younger children the different Government rules required to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
Why we love it: By using a much-loved and familiar children’s character, its creators were able to deliver serious information in a fun and captivating way.
There is no doubt that the care sector has suffered a significant impact in caring for their residents and patients during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving care homes no choice but to prevent visits and causing many residents to feel cut-off from their friends and family and the outside world. This led creative care homes to roll-out a Pen Pal programme, with some snapping photographs of residents alongside a board with their name and their interests to post on social media to encourage pen pals to get in touch. This ground-breaking initiative had one care home in Downend, Bristol receive responses from across the globe – in just 24 hours!
Why we love it: This is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the importance of social contact for people living in care environments and provides an actionable response that is positive for both residents and Pen Pals alike. Residents feel valued and filled with a sense of purpose, and Pen Pals feel like they are making a real difference and, in some cases, helping alleviate their own feelings of loneliness and isolation by getting involved with this great initiative.
This last year has seen people of all walks of life and from all around the world come together in the fight to combat racism. This also extended to Channel 4 (C4) supporting a united anti-racism stance from Britain’s supermarkets after a Sainsbury’s campaign depicting a black family at Christmas attracted offensive and racist social media posts.
As a first-of its-kind commercial initiative, C4 and the UK’s major supermarkets, including Waitrose, Tesco, Iceland, Asda, Aldi, M&S, Lidl and Co-op joined forces to air an anti-racism message in a collective show of brand support for Sainsbury’s.
Suspending rivalries to promote equality, the concerted messaging hit viewers during prime-time slots on Friday the 27th November in two bursts, the first scheduled for 20:15 during Bake Off: An Extra Slice and a second follow-up at 22:15 during The Last Leg.
The on-screen calls for unity were supported by the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism which invites individuals to make their voices heard.
Why we love it: We’d like to think that one of the legacies from the Covid-19 pandemic, is that we have realised how much more effective we can be by working together, and this campaign demonstrates just that. By putting aside their competitive rivalries to form a united front, these supermarket giants were able to drive a clear and widespread message that racism and abusive behaviours will not be tolerated and that we must all fight for positive change.
As we reflect on the past crazy, challenging and unprecedented year, we hope our list of the most memorable PR campaigns of 2020 has given you some ‘food for thought’ and provide a silver lining for humanity that we can all take into the New Year.