After equally comforting people as they were sheltering in place (Honda’s The Power of Something Greater ad) and cautioning them (State of Oregon’s Don’t Accidentally Kill Someone campaign), advertisers are now entering a springlike period of consumer reawakening.
A notable campaign breaking this week by McGarrah Jessee for Lyft and Citi Bike encourages residents of New York City to venture out of their apartments. As the city was one of the hardest hit by coronavirus, the tone is cautious. Outdoor ads show people doing simple things on their Citi Bikes, such as a rider taking herself out for a bagel and a man cycling by a friend’s building for a distanced hangout.
“New Yorkers are used to having trains, buses, cars and bikes at their disposal, and Citi Bikes were a fun fan favorite,” said Claire Whigham, chief creative officer at McGarrah Jessee. “When New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic, Citi Bike focused its efforts on supporting essential workers.”
Citi Bike marketers observed that New Yorkers’ awareness of health safety and cleanliness had them perceiving individual bikes as safer transport than subways, despite the mutual aspect of bike-share programs. Exercise, clearing the mind and somewhat emptier streets were other factors favoring cycling.
“The ongoing anxiety of COVID created an increased mindfulness and desire to reconnect, get back to work and celebrate our communities without the fear of physical proximity,” Whigham explained. “Citi Bike was the answer. Our goal for this integrated campaign was to position the bike-share system as a way for the city and its people to re-emerge from the crisis, reconnect and empower its communities to rebound.”
Lyft’s Ride Up campaign for Citi Bike will appear on digital and social outlets and all around New York City, including a marquee placement in Times Square, through the fall.
Austin-based McGarrah Jessee is a longtime agency partner of Lyft, which manages the Citi Bike program in New York City and has investments in electric scooters. Lyft has created a policy platform of “rebuilding cities around people instead of cars,” according to its 2020 Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance Annual Report, prioritizing itself around transportation versus auto ownership.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Moore’s Thank You Walls campaign has a spring-cleaning vibe that indicates life is starting to move on. The spot, by agency FIG, gives gratitude to the walls inside our homes that have supported lockdown lives, including messy kids, cooking splatters, dirty shoes and wall-scraping dogs who are eager to go outside.
“They’ve stood by us, even when we got a little stir crazy. For that they deserve some thanks,” goes the voiceover, as the visuals show a man layering a thick coat of blue paint on the wall.
“It’s not just that we’ve spent so much time inside our homes, we’ve also changed how we use them,” said Howard Finkelstein, FIG’s creative director, in a statement. “Dining rooms became classrooms, bedrooms did double duty as yoga studios, we actually started cooking in our kitchens. And our walls have taken the brunt of this extra use.”
The Thank You Walls spot, which was directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, will run nationally on TV, radio, digital and social. It will also be boosted in markets where sales were most impacted by COVID-19.