The Message In the Time of COVID (funny ads included)

Look, we get it: It’s a pretty weird time right now, and there’s no timetable or roadmap for the return to normal.

It’s only been a few days since the full disruptive effects of COVID-19 came to Canada, but already our day-to-day life has been upended. If you’re anything like us, you probably felt a little off-balance at first, but hopefully you’ve found your footing now—still anxious perhaps, but refocused and working to determine the best possible next steps.

For those who lived (and worked) through the 2008-09 recession, this all feels a bit familiar. Early on, every day seems to bring another piece of bad news. Last week we’d never heard of the expression social distancing; this week most of us are practicing it with the ardour of new converts to Scientology.

For us, the anxiety became real sooner than we’d anticipated. Less than two weeks ago, we posted a story about Libby Begg joining our team as an official third full-time partner. A few days before, the three of us had got together to take some photos. The next day Libby found out she had been exposed to COVID-19 and—as she had a slight cough—was told to go for testing. That photo above suddenly felt like a bad idea. Thankfully Libby’s test came back negative, but from that moment COVID-19 became very real for us.

Thankfully, humans are blessed with a remarkable ability to seek lightness and positivity in tough times. And for people in this industry—which has creative thinking at its very core—there’s a unique ability to view every challenge not as a setback, but another problem to be solved. That is what you do, usually with a combination of wit, humour and compassion.

These immutable truths are what will guide our thinking behind a new feature we’ve taken to calling “Marketing in the time of COVID.”

At this point we don’t know how long this will be a focus for us. But for now at least—while still covering news of the industry—we also want to be a place for shared stories from this community. We’ll have fewer pieces quoting “experts” and talking about “consumers,”  and more quoting people and talking about humans.

We’re not entirely sure of what we’ll be doing here, although we have some early ideas—like simply sharing our favourite funny ads as a reminder of the humour that pulses through this industry. We’ve started by including some of ours below.

Other stories will emerge in the days and weeks ahead. It’s like the entire industry just got a first glance of a tough new brief. We’re not sure how we’ll crack it yet, but we know we will.

One of the stated objectives with The Message since its inception has been about fostering a sense of community. For the next little while, at least, our most important objective will be creating a shared experience even while we are (temporarily) kept apart.

David Brown: 416-880-3414 or

Chris Powell: 416-723-6389 or

Libby Begg 416-902-4171 or

David Brown’s favourite funny ads

Chris Powell’s favourite funny ads

Libby Begg’s favourite funny ads

Chris Powell