swap patel how crocs is navigating the news during covid-19

Swap Patel: How Crocs is navigating the news during COVID-19

April 30, 2020

On Tuesday, McKinney Executive Director of Media Swap Patel participated in “News Saves Lives,” a virtual town hall sponsored by the IAB, which you can watch in its entirety here. The town hall focused on best practices in digital advertising around coronavirus news, and Patel explained how Crocs has successfully navigated advertising online during the crisis.

The media team at McKinney launched the Crocs 2020 digital media campaign in early March. Patel explained that the impact of COVID-19 dramatically impacted the team’s workflow. As pandemic-related content started dominating the news cycle, the media team put safeguards in place to block Crocs display ads from appearing around any content related to the outbreak due to fear the brand would be linked to the negative news. This naturally increased block rates as the virus (and coverage of it) began to spread exponentially, but better safe than sorry, given the uncertainty that existed.

Working in tandem with DoubleVerify, a company that provides brand-safety and verification solutions for online media, the media team loosened keyword restrictions and added page-level exceptions. Patel mentioned that these actions broadened access to the pool of available brand-safe inventory to run display ads.

“The big question Crocs was facing was not only from an advertising perspective, but also how to take action,” said Patel. “What do you do as a brand? What’s the right thing to do?”

Meanwhile, Crocs launched “A Free Pair for Healthcare,” a program that donates pairs of Crocs to health care workers. To begin, Crocs started giving away 10,000 pairs of shoes every day but, as demand grew, they increased donations to 20,000 pairs daily. The program, which has now donated more than 450,000 pairs of Crocs globally, garnered widespread news coverage, which created more advertising-friendly spaces on the internet. Not only could Crocs run ads on trusted news sites, but also alongside any article related to the “A Free Pair for Healthcare” program.

“What we saw was 30% decrease in the block rate, and more inventory to access and run our ads around,” said Patel. “When other brands were having to lower their digital media spend, having more impressions (via earned media) was invaluable.”