McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Audi and Volkswagen are some of the major companies incorporating “social distancing” into their advertising and branding lately because of the coronavirus pandemic.

McDonald’s Brazil pulled away its golden arches, Volkswagen separated the V and the W in their logo and Audio unliked its four circles. Coca-Cola’s new Times Square ad features spaced-out lettering and the phrase, “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected.” There are pros and cons to such messaging. “Brands designing social distancing logos have the potential to diminish the severity of what we are going through. The creativity, passion, and thought that goes into wanting to help, educate, and be part of the physical distancing movement is a worthy note,” says one ad expert.

However, Brian Braiker, editor-in-chief of Ad Age says it is time for companies to to offer “real, meaningful services” like “making hand sanitizers or masks.” “Understanding the situation, shutting up and doing something helpful is really the only way to go here. When you see brands like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola spacing out their logos in ‘solidarity,’ it strikes a sour note,” said Braiker.

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