The Brand Move Roundup – April 1, 2020

We’re tracking the notable brand moves & highlighting the companies who are tackling this challenge successfully.

We started this series of brand updates on March 12, but the reaction has been so positive, and the crisis so fast-moving, that we’re going to move to a continuously updated rolling news format from now until it’s all over (hopefully soon). Keep checking back here for the latest updates on how brands are dealing with coronavirus.

Automotive brands Jaguar and Land Rover will deploy more than 160 vehicles to organizations helping curtail the spread of coronavirus. They include the British Red Cross and the Red Cross Societies in Australia, Spain, South Africa, and France. It will also loan vehicles to the National Health Service in the UK, along with wraparound safety glasses to hospitals across the country.

Johnson & Johnson has joined with US government agency the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to commit $1 billion to development of a COVID-19 vaccine. J&J plans to have a vaccine in the clinic by September, win emergency use authorization early next year and add capacity to make more than one billion doses. Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible. As the world’s largest healthcare company, we feel a deep responsibility to improve the health of people around the world.”

In China, spirits brand Rémy Martin has donated 1 million yuan (US$140,000) to the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation to fund the purchase of protective medical equipment. Meanwhile, in France, the production sites for Rémy Martin Cognac, Cointreau liqueur and Domaine des Hautes Glaces donated neutral alcohol to health organisations for the production of hand sanitizer. At the French firm’s Scotch whisky distillery on Islay, the team from Bruichladdich have also been working with local manufacturers to produce and distribute hand sanitizer, as have Rémy Cointreau’s Westland Distillery in the US and the Mount Gay Rum Distillery in Barbados. Rémy Martin has also donated 8,000 surgical and FFP2 masks to hospitals in Cognac and Saintes, France. In the US, Rémy Cointreau made a donation of US$100,000 to the US Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation, which offers financial support to on-trade members affected by the spread of covid-19. Eric Vallat, chief executive officer of Rémy Cointreau, said: “Since the beginning of this crisis, more than ever, it seemed essential for us to embody our values, to show solidarity and mutual aid.”

The world’s largest spirits producer, Diageo, will donate up to two million liters of alcohol to manufacturing partners to produce hand sanitizer for health care workers during the pandemic. Smirnoff maker Diageo will provide neutral grain spirit (NGS) for free to hand sanitizer producers in a number of countries to tackle shortages in health care systems. The contribution will ensure the creation of more than eight million 250ml bottles of the disinfectant. “Health care workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them,” said Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo. “This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitizer around the world.”

London-based luxury brand Burberry will use its extensive global supply chain network to fast track the delivery of over 100,000 surgical masks to the UK National Health Service, for use by medical staff. Burberry is also retooling its trench coat factory in Castleford, Yorkshire, to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients, the production and distribution of which will be subject to approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). In addition to helping supply NHS workers with much-needed protective gear, Burberry is also funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford that is on course to begin human trials next month.

Burberry is also donating to charities including FareShare and The Felix Project, dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK. “In challenging times, we must pull together,” said Marco Gobbetti, Burberry CEO. “The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19.”

Fanatics, the top provider of Major League Baseball hats, jerseys and other merchandise, Fanatics will be using the jersey material the company has on hand to create masks and gowns, which are in short supply for medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic., “The COVID-19 crisis has compelled our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before,” Michael Rubin, executive director of Fanatics, said. “As the demand for masks and gowns has surged, we’re fortunate to have teamed up with Major League Baseball to find a unique way to support our front line workers in this fight to stem the virus, who are in dire need of essential resources.” Rubin said Fanatics has completely halted production on anything other than the masks and gowns and the company plans to make one million of each to be immediately donated and distributed across Pennsylvania. He also said Fanatics plans to extend its efforts to New York and New Jersey, currently the epicenters of the outbreak.

Other fashion and apparel brands that have pivoted production to face masks and medical gowns include Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, New Balance and GAP.

American lifestyle brand Ralph Lauren has pledged $10 million to coronavirus relief efforts, the biggest donation by a luxury company thus far. The grant will go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Emergency Assistance Foundation, and its Pink Pony Fund, which supports a network of international cancer institutions. It is also starting production on 250,000 face masks and 25,000 isolation gowns for health care workers. Additionally, the firm gifted an undisclosed amount to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to help fashion designers hit by the economic downturn. “We believe that no matter who you are or where you are from, we are all connected,” said Ralph Lauren in a statement. “That is why we are taking significant action to help our teams and communities through this crisis.”

Italian fashion label Gucci is providing 1,100,000 surgical masks and 55,000 medical overalls. It also plans on donating to crowdfunding campaigns that are supporting relief efforts, including the Italian Civil Protection Department and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. In addition, through #GucciCommunity, it is asking fans to make a donation to the WHO’s initiative, along with giving the agency complete access to its social media channels in the hopes of amplifying official public service information.

Prada is financing the Intensive Care Units of three new hospitals in Milan. The Italian company has also reconfigured its factory in Perugia to produce 110,000 masks and 80,000 medical garments that will be delivered to Tuscan hospitals on April 6.

Through its Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation, the American retailer has pledged $600,000 to organizations that support COVID-19 relief efforts. Amounts of $250,000 will be donated to the New York Presbyterian COVID-19 Patient Care Fund; $200,000 to Bring Change to Mind, an organization that create virtual programs for high school students aimed to reduce isolation; and $150,000 to Girls Inc., which will provide social and emotional support for girls affected by the pandemic.

Beauty brand Estée Lauder is donating two million surgical masks to healthcare facilities in New York. “We are grateful to our suppliers, employees, and manufacturing partners who have made this possible,” the company wrote on Instagram. They’re also making their own hand sanitizer.

Cosmetics company Coty says it also has begun making hand sanitizer for health workers at plants in the US and Monaco.

KFC is sending 1 million pieces of chicken to its more than 4,000 US restaurants to help them with donations and food giveaways such as feeding first responders. Some restaurant operators have already been handing out food, including franchisees making deliveries to essential personnel. Now, each KFC is set to get an additional chicken supply at no cost that it can cook and serve however it feels is best in their community, the Yum Brands chain says. “Seeing our franchisees coming together and helping their neighbors during this crisis has inspired us to do more,” KFC US President Kevin Hochman said. KFC previously said it would donate $400,000 to Blessings in a Backpack to help provide food for children, and some of its restaurants are donating unsold food to local food banks. Meanwhile, Yum Brands has announced that CEO David Gibbs voluntarily chose to forgo all of his salary compensation for the rest of 2020, which works out to about $675,000, based on his annual salary of $900,000. That money will instead go toward funding one-time $1,000 bonuses to the nearly 1,200 general managers at its own KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill locations and setting up an employee medical relief fund to distribute financial hardship grants to corporate or franchise restaurant workers with a COVID-19 diagnosis, or those caring for someone with a confirmed diagnosis.

Unilever on Thursday distributed 200,000 masks to hospitals in New Jersey, where its US headquarters are located, as part of its broader global contribution of more than $100 million in goods. The company also declared May 12 a “Day of Service,” saying it would donate “every essential item” produced that day at its 14 US factories. Unilever also will earmark its entire marketing and advertising outlay for the day to support nonprofits and relief organizations to distribute those products. The company said that it will ask media companies, retailers, tech, delivery, packaging and other suppliers to join in the May 12 initiative.

Procter & Gamble has begun to make protective masks to donate to health workers at more than a dozen locations around the world. Another five locations are now producing more than 45,000 liters of hand sanitizer weekly for health workers, as part of a combination of cash and in-kind donations totaling $15 million to date.

McDonald’s plans to donate 400,000 KF94 masks to the State of Illinois emergency operation center. The world’s largest restaurant company said it has access to a reserve of masks in China. “Although the need for protective gear is great throughout the US, our home state is nearing depletion of its supply, and we are proud to contribute,” McDonald’s said in a statement.

Outdoor advertising media specialist JCDecaux has launched a campaign across its network in Australia to thank essential workers who are supporting Covid-19, as well as campaigns supporting local business and building awareness of mental health issues. The out-of-home (OOH) media specialist used its own in-house creative team to launch a series of ads that thank the key workers, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, aged care workers, childcare workers, farmers, supermarket and warehouse workers in Australia. JCDecaux chief marketing officer, Essie Wake, said: “JCDecaux connects organisations with communities, whether they are in the hearts of cities or deep in the suburbs. In these uncertain times, our ability to be a platform for good is at its most powerful – which is why we are carrying a number of important government health messages as well. Our role right now is to help connect, support and educate communities.” 

UK car rescue specialist the AA is launching a free breakdown service for National Health Service workers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. From Thursday (2 April), NHS staff who break down on their way to or from work will be able to call for help, whether or not they are an AA member. The service, which is available to anyone with an NHS ID, includes free recovery to and from work as well as help if they break down at home. Simon Breakwell, AA chief executive officer, said: “We all recognize that everyone across the NHS is doing an absolutely vital job and we want to help them. The last thing they need to worry about right now is a breakdown, so we’re pleased to be able to help them with free recovery to and from work for as long as the current crisis continues.”

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk has said that the company has extra FDA-approved ventilators to be shipped free of cost to hospitals within regions where the electric car maker delivers. “Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please let me or @Tesla know,” Musk said in a tweet.