People around the world are taking precautions to combat the current pandemic. Amidst all of that, many brands are doing what they can to lend a helping hand.
Running a marketing campaign during a global pandemic can be tricky, but during this crisis there are many examples of brands reaching out to help keep their communities safe or support people who are suddenly out of work. While it’s the right thing to do, it also makes business sense as people are likely to remember which companies were there for them.
Here are several examples of companies who are stepping up, giving back, and transforming in order to deliver value to millions of struggling people around the world.
Hand Sanitizer Production
Remember when grocery stores were wiped empty and hand sanitizer became a hot commodity? Well, an unlikely hero has taken action to fight the recent shortages. Anheuser-Busch announced that the company has begun the production of sanitizer, and will work with the American Red Cross to deliver it to communities in need.
Additional companies have launched the production of hand sanitizer as well, including luxury goods maker LVMH and the U.K.-based craft brewer BrewDog. Even Tito’s Vodka announced that it "will now indeed be producing and distributing 24 tons of actual hand sanitizer to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic."
Many stores and factories worldwide went dark as governments declared nationwide quarantines. However, the lights flickered back on for a few companies who are hard at work pivoting from their usual fashion apparel to producing much needed surgical masks.
Luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, and Prada are just a few examples of brands jumping in on the action. The companies have promised to produce millions of face masks primarily in high risk areas such as Italy and France. Even H&M and Zara have begun to take steps to switch their textile manufacturing over to making health materials.
While many brands are currently waiting on both the materials and approval from the WHO and EU to begin production, prepare to see a surplus of surgical masks in the coming weeks.
Tip Your Bartender
Miller lite wasted no time reaching out a helping hand to struggling bartenders, who are now unemployed in response to the mass closure of bars worldwide. The American beer company tweeted a photo of an abandoned pub in support of their latest campaign “#VirtualTipJar”, which aims to raise money for bartenders who have been put out of work.
The owner of Miller Lite, Molson Coors, has volunteered an additional $1 million as an estimated 241,000 US restaurants and bars have closed their doors as of this week.
Jameson, the Irish whiskey brand, was also looking out for bartenders by contributing $500,000 to the United States Bartender’s Guild. The company launched the #LoveThyBartender campaign aimed to show further support for afflicted bartenders.
Guinness addressed the pandemic through their latest ad, released on March 20. The Irish beer company acknowledged that St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be the same this year due to the parade and bar closures.
However, the company vowed to “march again” and thus pledged $500,000 through its Guinness Gives Back Fund to “help the communities where we live, work and celebrate”. Guinness Ireland also pledged €1.5 million to support Irish bar staff and elderly citizens.
Fast Food Restaurants Adjusting on the Fly
On March 23, McDonald’s announced that it would indefinitely close all of its U.K. and Ireland restaurants, giving patrons until the evening to get one last Big Mac. The company shared the unfortunate news via a twitter post, adding that “We look forward to seeing you all again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen”. In North America, McDonald’s chains continue to offer drive-thru and delivery services.
Similarly, Starbucks has decided to exclusively offer drive-thru services in North America for the next two weeks. The world's leading coffee chain received an immense amount of pressure from employees to shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Starbucks has decided to avoid shutting down all together and instead, pay all in-store staff for the next 30 days regardless of if they decide to come to work.
Elsewhere in the US, the National Restaurant Association has forecasted a $225 billion industry loss and expects 5 to 7 million jobs to vanish over the next 3 months. The prediction was made as the industry attempts to shift its focus toward delivery, take-out, and drive-thru services.
Delivery Is the Way to Go
Naturally, people don’t want to give up eating their food from their favorite restaurants entirely. Instead, expect a high-volume of delivery services from restaurants and fast food chains who don’t typically offer on-the-go orders.
Companies such as Dunkin’ have found a creative way to incentivize customers to get their donut fix, but from a safe distance. The chain launched a new social distancing rewards program, where customers who order on-the-go receive an extra 100 points on their DD Perks program. Additionally, the company’s Joy in Childhood Foundation pledged $1.25 million to support hunger relief organizations.
Pizza companies, like Domino’s and Jet’s, are one of the few businesses providing new job opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic. Open positions starting from delivery driver all the way to store manager are being advertised as stores face an overwhelming amount of delivery orders.
Meanwhile, Amazon has taken measures to protect its factory workers by temporarily halting all non-essential deliveries in both Italy and France. The company shared the newest safety measures, saying that it would focus on receiving and shipping only “the products customers need most at this time.” Essential items include food and hygiene products.
In the wake of the novel virus, many brands have decided to give back to their struggling communities by temporarily providing free online services. Included in that list is the streaming company Sling TV, which is offering a growing list of channels and free coverage on all COVID-19 news and on-demand access to kids, lifestyle, and entertainment programming.
Other streaming services are getting creative, too. Airtime Media Inc. created a Google Chrome extension – Netflix Watch Party – that easily allows people to watch their favorite movies or shows and chat along with their friends who are also watching. Meanwhile, Disney+ helped parents by releasing Frozen II on its streaming service ahead of schedule.
Many cell phone providers, including AT&T, Verizon, and Mint Mobile, have waived data overage fees or pledged to not assess late fees for missed payments. Meanwhile, some students are receiving special assistance as Varsity Tutors and LinkedIn Learning have shared free classes while schools are closed.
And for the gym rats who are stuck at home, many gym brands and yoga studios, including Planet Fitness and CorePower Yoga, are also offering online classes to avoid spreading the virus without sacrificing their fitness routine.
Social Media as Your New Therapist
Is self distancing causing you anxiety or distress? Snapchat is one social media platform that has created a feature that provides users with resources for topics related to mental health, including anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, and grief.
As the novel virus wreaks havoc on the economy, Facebook has also made an effort in helping out the community by pledging $100 million to small businesses in addition to providing advertising assistance for businesses marketing on the social network.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted the platform's information service capabilities by sharing a livestream interview with former director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The two aimed to provide more credible information on the virus than what may be circulating around the internet.
Never Fear, the Grocery Stores Are Here
As grocery stores around the world have struggled to meet high demands, Kraft Heinz Co. supported their efforts by donating $12 million in both cash and food. The american food company also launched the #WeGotYouAmerica campaign, showing appreciation for all the plant workers ramping up food production.
In the coming weeks, consumers are expected to experience fully stocked shelves as Clay Detlefsen, the senior vice president of regulatory and environmental affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation, announced that consumers should not fear food shortages as there is still a healthy supply of food. Rather, Detlefsen blames the empty shelves – mostly a phenomenon in the US – on panic-buying.
During hard times, businesses are faced with the challenge of tackling crisis management. Advertising can be tricky as brands must carefully navigate through dangerous waters.
Hopefully these creative brands, which have managed to support their own employees and communities with valuable campaigns and contributions can offer some inspiration.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.