3 x Socially distanced brand activations

Brands were quick to adapt their activation strategies to suit the realities of pandemic life. Beaming straight into our homes, virtual events rapidly became the new normal.

Now, as shutdown eases, brands are starting to experiment with ways they can meet consumers in the real world again. With safety in focus, a handful of brands are getting creative to show that social distancing and experience marketing can co-exist. Here are three examples:


At-home manicure kits sold out during lockdown, as consumers turned to DIY beauty with varying degrees of success.

Prior to nail salons re-opening, BABE Wines came to the rescue with a free manicure truck to help Brooklynites fix their “garbage nails”.

According to Insider, the mani truck “extravaganza” was the brainchild of co-founder Josh Ostrovsky, aka The Fat Jewish, who reaches millions of young consumers through his Instagram meme account.

Image Source: Instagram

The truck, branded up with BABE’s distinctive tone of voice (“Your nails look crazy. We’re here for you.”), offered free manicures in three colours inspired by the brand’s wines.

To ensure safety, the manicures were given through holes in plexiglass, while customers wore masks and stood two metres apart while waiting.

The mani truck proved a success both IRL and through the brand’s Instagram page, where the content was viewed and shared tens of thousands of times.

BABE wines are now planning on expanding the effort to cities across America.

2. Drive-in Esports Arenas

The esports industry is getting in on the social distanced activation game. Property investment firm Horizon Group Properties is partnering with esports analytics company Harena Data to develop drive-in esports arenas at Horizon-owned malls.

They will launch spaces in four major cities in the US, where visitors will be able to watch tournaments and even compete in events from the safety of their vehicles.

Harena Data’s chief strategy officer Bill Dever said in a press release: "We’re confident in our ability to orchestrate large-scale tournaments with Horizon to bring the joy and thrill of drive-in experiences back to communities. Our world today has a changing level of interaction and communication, which we believe can be used to create incredible esports events and encourage Americans to work together in new ways."

Drive-ins (a retro concept) look to be having a modern revival, with developers and brands investing to give shoppers more retail-tainment as they re-emerge, safely, into the real world.

3. Bacardi Snapchat Filter

To mark the reopening of England’s bars and restaurants earlier this month, Bacardi created a Snapchat lens featuring a Caribbean island – but it only works if users stand at least one metre apart, in keeping with updated physical distancing rules.

According to Bacardi, users who activate the lens will be told how much further they need to stand back to maintain the required one-metre distance. Once this has been achieved, a Caribbean island will appear, along with sunglasses, palm trees and the official Bacardi rum anthem, the Sound of Rum.

Image Source: Bacardi

Fabio Ruffet, brand director of Bacardi Europe, said: “July 4th is the true relaunch of the summer in England and we want to support both bartender and customers the best we can. We know that people have a special bond with their local bars and restaurants and ensuring they can return to celebrate in style is something we feel passionately about.”

Whilst filter-play is nothing new, and somewhat gimmicky, branded filters are inexpensive to create and can put your brand at the heart of your consumer’s night out. If done well, they’re highly shareable.

SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge? Get in touch - kattowers@lovecreative.com