Brands Aid the Fight Against Coronavirus

By Conor O'Malley  | 

The coronavirus has quickly reshaped our daily lives and we’re seeing many brands embracing a call to action, putting aside their own messaging and channeling resources towards the collective good. Here’s how several industry leaders are taking up the fight.

Helping Medical Workers
These challenging times present a rare opportunity for marketing leaders to enact positive change on a very large scale. Bob Liodice, CEO at the Association of National Advertisers, called it a “terrific time for brands to step up to the plate, to develop their authenticity, and to deepen that loyalty.” Auto companies Ford, GM and Tesla are rising to the occasion by producing ventilators desperately needed in so many parts of the country. Many Detroit plants that were forced to shutter could soon see workers returning to the lines. In response to the shortage of masks, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged to donate millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. Facebook followed suit, drumming up an emergency reserve of 720,000 masks as of mid-March. And Uber is hoping to drive upwards of 300,000 free meals to nurses and doctors on the frontlines in the US and Canada, while waiving delivery fees for 100,000 independent restaurants on Uber Eats.

Spreading the Message
In once-crowded Times Square, Coca-Cola highlights the country’s urgent social-distancing directive via a billboard featuring its logo with extra space between the letters, instead of in typically tight Spencerian script. An accompanying tagline reads “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected.” Financial support pouring in is both encouraging and inspiring. Coke has pledged $13.5 million to five nonprofits delivering pandemic-related humanitarian aid. Nike will donate $15 million to COVID-19 response efforts and the company’s latest campaign encourages quarantine with the message: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.” Nike has also made its Training Club app free, to help users stay fit while stuck inside.

Safeguarding the Most Vulnerable
In an effort to protect older, higher risk adults, grocery stores across the globe have started designating special shopping hours for this vulnerable demographic. Target, Walmart and Whole Foods are among those that have established seniors-only time slots, typically one hour prior to general store openings. In the UK, supermarket chain Lidl pledged 100,000 pounds to help feed disadvantaged groups. Similarly, Heinz launched its “Breakfast Isn’t Going Anywhere” campaign, meant to address the meal deficit generated by school closures. The company promised 12 million free breakfasts for an eight-week period to children from low-income families. With restaurant and bar workers facing mass layoffs, Miller Lite created a video of an empty drinking establishment to promote their #VirtualTipJar campaign. “Taps are off. But tips are needed” reads the tweet, along with a link to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. Ditto for Fireball Whiskey and Hill Holliday, whose “World’s Biggest Tip Jar” effort, by mid-March, had raised over $141,000 on GoFundMe. Finally, four popular brands—Budweiser, Remy Martin, Carlsberg and Pernod Ricard—teamed up with Chinese e-commerce group JD.com and music label Taihe to deliver an online clubbing experience for those in self-quarantine. The collaboration provides music, dancing and dose of fun in these stay-at-home days.

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