The Brand Move Roundup – September 9, 2020

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

In early March we began reporting daily on how brands were dealing with Covid-19. But it’s become clear that the current climate is one of near-perpetual disruption, so we decided to keep on telling the stories of inspiring brand leadership and strategy amid the latest crises in an anxious world. Our goal is to provide an up-to-the-minute source of information, inspiration and insight on brand moves as they happen.

At a time when most offices lie vacant and the vast majority of consumers are still working from home, co-working providers such as WeWork are in a tough spot. But the brands are looking to stay afloat by reinventing themselves with social distancing upgrades and new marketing that pushes their space as the flexible solution businesses need as they downsize their office holdings and desperately renegotiate leases. WeWork is debuting a new marketing campaign called “That’s How Tomorrow Works.” “The objective of the campaign is to wake up interest again in flexible workspaces,” says Roger Solé, who joined WeWork as chief marketing officer in April. “One of the most amazing features of WeWork that we need to resurface is it’s extremely adaptable to the post-COVID world.” WeWork is not the only flexible office space provider hoping to capitalize on the new needs of clients. Knotel, a competitor, is also marketing itself this month. The company will launch an out-of-home campaign called “Knotel New York Was Built For This” next week. The local push, which will appear in print on phone kiosks and digitally on bus shelters in Manhattan, focuses on “the importance of flexibility in getting back to the office,” according to a spokeswoman, who notes that the current situation makes “long-term leases even less tenable.” Both WeWork and Knotel have redesigned their layouts with distancing in mind. Solé says WeWork has widened the layouts of its 800 global locations, particularly for its enterprise clients, those larger businesses that represent half its customers, and added directional dots, signage and hand sanitizing stations to ensure safety. “The idea is to show confidence that in this space we are the market leader,” says Solé. “We have been working to develop the platform that we believe is the most appropriate for this new world.”

As road trips remain the most popular and safest way to travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, RV purchases in the U.S. are seeing a boom expected to continue into fall. Spice and condiment brand McCormick has found RV travel’s popularity an ideal opportunity to promote new seasonings, specifically for grilling. The brand partnered with peer-to-peer RV rental company RVshare and public campground network Kampgrounds of America to launch its Grill Mates products with in-person pop-ups at three national park campgrounds over Labor Day weekend. Kits given away to campers included the three new Grill Mates seasonings along with grilling products, recipes and tips. RVshare reports bookings have increased by more than 1,600% since April. In the company’s recent travel sentiment survey, 69% of respondents report they plan to travel in the next three months for longer than just a weekend getaway, with 63% reporting they won’t fly any time soon. “RV travel is a seasonal business and as we look towards the fall months, we usually see reservations drop off,” RVshare CEO Jon Gray said. “This year is different. In fact, we will continue to be up significantly in bookings for the rest of the year as travelers continue to opt for travel options that give them more control and consider RVs for more than just a vacation.” At the beginning of the pandemic, McCormick pivoted its marketing to advocate for cooking meals at home. The brand has debuted cooking shows on its social channels and Spotify playlists tailored to making different meals.

The canning industry has seen an unprecedented demand for supplies as more consumers prepare meals at home during the pandemic, said a spokesperson for Newell Brands, owner of Ball, which produces Mason jars and other supplies. “The demand has resulted in supply constraints, extended lead times and recently limited product availability at stores and online,” the spokesperson said. To replenish the stock as quickly as possible, the company said it had increased glass production and found additional lid manufacturers. The scarcity didn’t surprise Elizabeth Andress, project director for the National Center for Home Food Preservation. “There seem to be more people canning than ever before – from the much higher number of inquiries coming into the National Center for help than in the past, and from the large number of participants I hear are attending virtual food preservation classes,” said Andress, a professor at the University of Georgia. More people established gardens or expanded their existing plots earlier this year out of initial fears of a possible food shortage or apprehension about going to the grocery store during the pandemic.

UK supermarket Iceland has created 3,000 new jobs to cope with the huge extra demand for online groceries since the lockdown in March, the company said. Online orders surged by more than 300% since April as shoppers rushed to book delivery slots and as all non-essential retailers were forced to shut their doors. The new jobs include extra delivery drivers and more staff in stores for picking online orders, Iceland said. A trial with food delivery platform Uber Eats has also been launched in London, with plans for a larger rollout, if successful. Grocers are keen to increase their online capacity because many hope the extra costs involved in each order can be reduced as the number of orders grows. Iceland is increasing its delivery fleet by 30% and a trial in Hackney, east London, with UberEats will allow customers to place and receive orders in 20 minutes. David Devany, chief customer and digital officer at Iceland, said: “We’ve been blown away by the demand for deliveries over the past six months with a four-fold increase in online orders since the beginning of lockdown.”

Ex-NFL star Colin Kaepernick might not have returned to real football fields yet, but he’s back in virtual ones. Starting today, the star football quarterback who sparked a national movement, can be chosen as a player in EA Sports’ latest Madden game, Madden NFL 21, released at the end of August. EA Sports states that players can put Kaepernick at the helm of any NFL team in Franchise mode and play with him in the game’s Play Now setting. “Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback. The team at EA Sports, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game,” EA Sports wrote in a statement. The inclusion of Kaepernick also plays into EA’s marketing around the new game, which includes highlighting football stars who “leave their mark” on the field. EA Sports first reached out to Kaepernick over the summer to negotiate the rights to his likeness so he could return for the new game after losing the rights when he was listed as a free agent. According to the article, Kaepernick’s requests included that his avatar in the game wear an afro and have a signature celebration of a Black Power fist.

Snack maker Mondelēz International has laid out its diversity and inclusion goals, including plans to double the representation of Black people in its U.S. management roles by 2024. The company also plans to spend $1 billion annually with minority-owned and women-owned businesses by 2024. Mondelēz is planning to appoint someone to the new role of global chief diversity and inclusion officer. “The company also plans to mobilize its consumer-facing brands and leverage its partnerships with agencies and advertising platforms to drive change, equity and inclusion,” Mondelēz stated. In the U.S., plans include honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday and Juneteenth as a day of service. Plans also include a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and a college scholarship program for underrepresented youth in the U.S.