With the virus raging, many, they realized, were hunkered down in their homes, not exercising or getting fresh air. But, Carpenter explained, if EBS provided bikes for free, the organization could fill a void for Memphians — and potentially improve mental and physical health.
After presenting the idea to the nonprofit and its sponsors, they initiated the “Let’s ride this out” campaign. Until April 19, EBS is providing 60-minute bike rides, free of charge.
“Seeing that, working with my staff to recognize what the opportunity might be, taking that opportunity and converting it to an actual timely marketing plan, sharing it with people who quickly and easily got on board and supported this — that is the moment I knew we were all going to be alright,” Carpenter said.
In the wake of the virus that’s infected people around the world and upended society, DCA has tried to tailor clients’ brands to fit the shape of reality — without altering what they are.
DCA considers itself immersed in a client’s company. As Carpenter puts it, his firm has the foundation of their DNA — and when a crisis occurs, it responds with the tone and the voice of the business.
As an example, take one of DCA’s clients, Folk’s Folly. Like every restaurant in the city, it’s been relegated to takeout orders. But for the prime steakhouse — known for its white-linen setting, piano bar, staff, and environment — making a pitch for the to-go option isn’t easy.
And, merely sending out an email that reads “takeout now available” won’t do.
“When you convert to something that’s more pedestrian like takeout, you have to be responsible for that brand in the moment, and people who enjoyed that brand in the past,” Carpenter said. “Then, how do you make sure you are adding to that brand in the future?”
With Folk’s Folly and its adjacent Humphrey’s Prime Cut Shoppe, DCA used elements of the restaurant’s branding it built over time — a rich tradition, and a commonality with customers.
The campaign graphic made for the restaurant — used for email marketing, social media, web, PR, and digital advertising — reads, “Traditions are steeped in time, but it’s never too late to start new ones.”
“The answer lies in the subtleties,” Carpenter said. “We don’t tell people what to do. We try to create a situation where they come to the conclusion that we want them to.”
Even with adaptive, subtle marketing, DCA and its clients aren’t immune to the effects of the coronavirus. As Greenstein explained, priorities have shifted. While before, DCA might have been planning a new marketing campaign, it’s now using energy to communicate more timely messages.
And, Carpenter noted, several clients over the past few weeks have said they’re going to hold off on more PR and marketing work for the time being.
Still, he has confidence in the future, however cloudy the skies are now. When he said the Explore Bike Share campaign brought him clarity, he didn’t just mean for his firm.
Rather, Carpenter felt better about society’s prospects.
“I see so many creative responses from the music industry, from individuals, and from the food and beverage people,” he said. “Ingenuity and opportunity are things that this country is built on, that the city is built on. Those things aren’t intimidated by this, and they will show through.”