Disrupt Blog

Pivoting during a pandemic

Learn, anticipate, ideate: The powerful impact of a good idea amid a crisis

It didn’t take long for 2020 plans to grind to a halt as the threat of COVID-19 spread globally. Every industry, every business, every community organization and every household faced immediate health and financial challenges. To complicate things further, various states and municipalities issued new restrictions to curb the public health risk, which sometimes made it more difficult for businesses with larger footprints to adjust uniformly.

During the last month of living and working in a very different reality, we’ve worked closely with our clients to first thoroughly understand new restrictions and anticipate the impacts to all stakeholders, and then refine strategies, reallocate budgets and shift focus to help them make the right adjustments for their customers, employees and communities – and to do so quickly. These case stories below show the power of one or two good ideas backed by nimble project management.

As the public health outlook changes every few days, businesses will need to keep scenario planning and preparing for the next right thing to do for all its stakeholders.

Cousins Subs

With the spread of COVID-19, Cousins Subs launched Curbside Pickup to provide food more safely for customers.

Cousins Subs launched Curbside Pickup for customers.

Problem: COVID-19 created a challenge for both delivery and in-store pickup. With stay-at-home orders in place across multiple states, it prohibited restaurants from being able to conduct “business as usual.” The client needed a quick solution to mitigate impact to revenue and to ensure the public that they were still open for business.

Action: We worked with Cousins to develop a technology solution and do the next right thing as quickly as possible. In 39 hours start to finish, we developed, integrated, tested and deployed an entirely new feature to enable curbside pick-up across franchises.

Results: So far results have been positive relative to the circumstances all food restaurants face with various state and municipal regulations.

GI Associates

GI Associates refined its active Colon Cancer Awareness campaign to align with public health priorities.

Problem: March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and every year the experts at GI Associates run a campaign to drive awareness for the issue that’s preventable, treatable and beatable with a colonoscopy with creative ads that play off the out-of-home medium. When the pandemic spread into its service area, GI Associates, like the rest of the healthcare community, faced new limitations in treatment offerings and operations.

Action: People still need to be mindful of their health during a pandemic, so the colon cancer awareness ads continued to run. However, the team modified the creative to encourage people to stay home and stay safe, as routine colonoscopies can resume when safe to do so.

Results: The modified campaign shows GI Associates knows their patients’ health and safety at home is the most important thing right now while still providing the eye-catching awareness to support the brand and demonstrate expertise.


LAMicroLUX reimagined its event plan and leaned on strong communications tactics.

Problem: LAmicroLUX is a two-day free event held in April in Los Angeles featuring a range of micro-brand, independents and curated larger watch brands. The event is designed to bring watches, brands, brand owners, designers and fans together in a fun, approachable and engaging environment. COVID-19 put everything on hold, forcing postponement until May (for now).

Action: We couldn’t control the circumstances, but we could control how we handled the change by communicating effectively with emails, social posts, live chat on the site to connect with the event host and a broadcast message deployed via text to create a discussion thread for guests. Not only did we wanted to set expectations, but we also wanted to reimagine the event. We created a virtual event to take place on the original date.

Results: By inviting the entire audience to be a part of an exclusive online event, we will encourage increased engagement between the guests and the brands all while being the catalyst for unprecedented access to brand owners. If the May event gets postponed, we’ll host another virtual gathering, keeping the interest alive until it’s safe to gather in-person again.

PJ’s Plumbing

Problem: In a world where many customers see little differentiation among plumbers, the current campaign for PJ’s Plumbing emphasized the brand’s approachability, personal touch, belief in doing right by the customer when they may not be looking or know better and commitment to stand behind every single job. When COVID-19 hit, suddenly customers questioned calling for a service that required entering the home or business.

Action: We decided to produce a new :30 radio spot coming straight from Paul, the owner/operator of PJ’s Plumbing. It was a message from the heart, acknowledging what is happening in the world with coronavirus and how PJ’s Plumbing understands and is ready to go above and beyond in terms of safety within the home or office.

Results: Sometimes authenticity is the best disruptor. The calls had dwindled prior to the campaign, but then customers began calling again as the new spots aired. Proactively communicating safety measures while showing empathy helped build trust and drive inquiries again.

Need help? Reach out to us for support. Our team has the right mix of brand, communications and technical experts to help you.