The need for isolation continues to be more and more necessary as we face the unknown – and potentially long-lasting – effects of today’s pandemic. Nearly every industry has been affected by the lack of socializing. For businesses that rely on in-person connections, the loss of live audiences is challenging to overcome. But, brands, industries and individuals alike have shown resilience, moving to the virtual arena in order to connect with their consumers.
Elmo Hosts A Virtual Playdate
In an effort to teach, please and distract children while mom and dad are working from home, WarnerMedia announced a “virtual playdate,” set to air next week across multiple broadcast channels. Starring Elmo, the “Sesame Street: Elmo’s Playdate” special is part of Sesame Workshop’s larger “Caring for Each Other” initiative, which helps families struggling with the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders.
The half-hour special shows kids a variety of new ways to play and learn together. WarnerMedia and Sesame Workshop said in a joint statement that the special will celebrate “everything from the EMTs, doctors and other everyday heroes who are helping families through the health crisis to the simple pleasures of baking cookies at home.”
“WarnerMedia recognizes how difficult these isolation efforts are for families, especially ones with children,” said Bob Greenblatt, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct to Consumer Chairman. Adding, “The special is meant to bring family members together for a unique in-home viewing experience that will provide laughter, joy and relief during this challenging time.”
Musicians Find Alternatives To In-Person Performances
From Elton John’s benefit concert with iHeartRadio to Swae Lee’s nearly 250,000 Instagram Live show to H.E.R.’s Girls With Guitars series, musicians across the globe have taken their concerts to the virtual center stage. Chris Martin and John Legend recently teamed up with Global Citizen and The World Health Organization to launch “Together at Home,” a virtual concert series that encourages viewers to practice social distancing and visit the WHO website for coronavirus-related questions or concerns they may have.
The mass popularity of these virtual concerts on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube have raised the question: could these performances be a trial run for all concerts migrating online in the future?
“If there is a way for artists to monetize online performances, I’m sure we will see that happening,” said Gena Greher, a professor for University of Massachusetts Lowell’s music department. “Any opportunity to reach a larger audience is something I’m sure any artist might consider.”
If social distancing continues for the foreseeable future, virtual performances could quickly become part of the current streaming services craze, potentially competing with industry-leaders like Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO.
Sports Fans Finally Get Some Live Action
When you hear the words “NFL draft,” many are immediately taken to the glitz, glamour and emotion that comes with young athletes finally getting their chances to shine. With 600,000 people in attendance during last year’s NFL draft weekend and coverage of the three day event averaging 6.1 million viewers, this year’s “fully virtual” draft will be a massive change of pace. And while a virtual draft won’t be quite the same as the drafts of years past, many sports fans and athletes are thankful for the alternative viewing option and finally getting a taste of the engagement they’ve been missing since social distancing began.
Prospects, coaches, general managers and executives will all remain at home as they make their fantasy-football-like selections for the upcoming NFL season. “We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before,” said Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner. “One that requires flexibility, patience and cooperation.”
Alcohol Brands Introduce Friendly, Virtual Competition
According to Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), sales of spirits spiked by roughly 50% for the week ending March 21st. So while the physical sale of spirits has not been negatively impacted by the current pandemic, many alcohol brands have responded to the ban on bars and, more specifically, bartenders, with innovative virtual experiences.
Gray Whale Gin is one of many liquor companies helping newly unemployed bartenders through the creation of a “Virtual Bar.” The brand is encouraging bartenders across the U.S. to submit videos of themselves whipping up unique cocktails (using Gray Whale Gin, of course). Selected bartenders will be paid $350 for their “shift,” which includes creating social content for their original cocktails. Over the next several weeks, Gray Whale Gin will promote each bartender and their cocktail creation on Instagram.
Ghost Tequila, on the other hand, launched a March Madness style Ghost Cocktail Challenge in an effort to help bartenders maintain incomes while doing what they love at home. The tournament allows bartenders to create cocktails and share the recipes online. Viewers vote bartenders into the next rounds. For every vote, Ghost will contribute $1 to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The tequila brand also pledged to match all donations, up to $10,000.
Around The Globe, Museums Take Viewers On Virtual Tours
COVID-19 has led many of the world’s most prominent museums to close. However, that doesn’t mean art lovers have lost complete access. Google Arts and Culture partnered with more than 2,500 museums and galleries from around the world to offer virtual tours of their holdings. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to La Galleria Nazionale in Rome to Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, the partnerships between museums and Google gives museum goers the chance to travel the world from the comfort of their own homes.
While, in many ways, the world has never felt more physically isolated, innovative, virtual initiatives have created bridges to connect us all and open the door to a new era of consumer engagement. Now is the time for brands to get creative and leverage digital and virtual marketing strategies to increase brand engagement and positively affect industries, consumers and all those impacted by this pandemic.
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