After spending the first stretch of the pandemic featuring thousands of small businesses across the country on its social channels, Square is turning the effort into its first national television and radio campaign.
The ads will highlight six of those local enterprises, ranging from California’s only Black and female-owned roofing company to a century-old family-run clothing store in Detroit. Styled in the user-generated clip and still slideshow aesthetic of quarantine advertising, they feature the words of each business owner on how the Covid-19 outbreak has affected them.
Square first began to showcase its small business clients on Instagram Stories in early March, encouraging people to buy gift cards, place delivery orders or buy small business bonds. The brand also recently began its first podcast called Talking Squarely where it speaks with small business owner guests and invites audio stories submitted via a voicemail line.
The company had begun the year with plans to launch much different creative as its first campaign, according to Lauren Weinberg, Square’s global head of marketing. But as the onset of Covid-19 upended marketing agendas across the board, the brand turned its efforts toward aid and eventually decided the campaign worked best as a natural extension of that push.
“We saw a lot of interest from small business owners wanting to share with us and also that other small business owners were getting a lot out of those stories,” Weinberg said. “And to be honest, the stories of their resilience and adaptability were really inspiring.”
Weinberg said that throughout the small business effort, her team has put an emphasis on ensuring that the voice of the small business owners came first and that the brand’s own advertising took a backseat to them.
“What we saw early on were a lot of brands saying ‘We’re all in this together’ kind of messaging. We felt like no one is in exactly the same shoes, and we really want to make this moment about the small business owner themselves and let their voice do the talking for what they’re doing and how they’re evolving right now,” Weinberg continued.
The campaign will run across national TV, digital video, broadcast radio and streaming audio in addition to the new podcast.
Square is not the first brand to center big advertising pushes on small businesses weathering the pandemic. GoDaddy compared the situation of small business owners to other times in history when businesses have endured tough economic times in an ad earlier this year. And a host of brands donated ad time to small businesses early on in the outbreak.