WCB - Letting Tactical Messaging Lead the Brand During Crisis

Trevor Millett, Nadine LaRoche

No one is going to argue that a well-executed and deployed brand message that pushes all the right buttons isn’t a great recipe for any business or organization to move the needle on sales or awareness. And when it comes to the role mass advertising plays within the mix, those broader emotionally based brand messages are usually the path taken, leaving tactical messaging a bit further down on the communications ladder. However, in times of crisis, like the one we're presently in with COVID-19, providing tangible ways for people to regain some control over their lives can be a much more impactful route to connect with your audience.

This was certainly the case with the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. Generally, when the WCB engages in mass advertising, they lead with over-arching emotional messaging, with pure tactical messaging assigned to other channels. But COVID-19 changed what it means to work safely, and they needed to step up to help support workplaces and workers quickly and definitively. We knew Nova Scotians still working “out in the field” were our priority, and we wanted to equip the employers and workers of these targeted industries with what they needed to know in order to work safely and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It was clear that a broad “stay safe” message wasn’t the order of the day. We needed to roll up our sleeves and get granular by uncovering and communicating industry-specific tactics that people could action immediately. And we had to do it fast.

Together, we efficiently developed an informative, integrated campaign anchored by a series of animated videos offering tips that employers and workers in our target industries can use to stay safe during the pandemic. Because we had to provide tips that were relevant to specific industries, we couldn’t rely on a one-spot-does-it-all approach. Multiple executions were required. In the end, we launched five different TV, radio, online display, social, and workplace collateral executions — allowing us to provide tailored information to as many different workers as we could.

With just over two weeks from integrated brief to the first output of the campaign in market (radio), the collaborative team worked doggedly to ensure we brought these critical messages to our working Nova Scotians when they needed it most.  

Of course, as an agency, we believe in building strong brands through emotionally based brand initiatives. And indeed, it was the brand that the WCB had developed over years of investment that positioned them as a voice that could be a trusted source of information during a very difficult time. The important take-away here for any brand during times of crisis, is asking what you can do to ladder down your halo message and provide your audience with something truly helpful to navigate their day-to-day. Because those are the kind of things people remember when life gets back to normal.

Manufacturing safety tips ad with animated conveyor belt over yellow background