Of all the events upturned by the coronavirus pandemic in the past eight months, Thanksgiving is likely to sting U.S. consumers particularly hard. While food brands frequently angle to offer some utility around the season's always-hectic meal prep (think Butterball's iconic turkey helpline, returning again in 2020), this year more marketers are expanding their canvases to offer support that is both practical and fun.
The November holiday, typically a time to gather with family and express gratitude, is facing serious disruptions as COVID-19 cases surge to new peaks in a grim portent for what's coming in the colder winter months. With many large gatherings on hold on — health experts warn against hosting people from outside the home at all — consumers are seeking tips for navigating an occasion that's sure to require some improvisation and experimentation.
The trend toward lending a helping hand has manifested in quirky concepts like meal insurance from Whole Foods and Campbell, both of which are working with partners to provide a safety net in case new cooks mess up a dish. A recognition of failure by first-time cooks also appears in a Pepsi contest that will reward whoever shares their baking slip-ups on social media apps like TikTok. Centering on humbling experiences could help brands to resonate with consumers who have flown much of 2020 by the seat of their pants, and who are primed to weather further bumps in the road as stricter lockdown measures return.
Meanwhile, other marketers are taking more traditional content plays like developing recipes a step further, drawing in celebrities from Coolio to Sarah Michelle Gellar to dole out advice and offer digital entertainment. Below, Marketing Dive breaks down six standout campaigns from a topsy-turvy Thanksgiving that could set the tone for other big-ticket marketing events coming down the pike like Christmas.