The Brand Move Roundup – September 22, 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.

In a new outdoor campaign aimed at encouraging mask usage, Twitter has projected and printed a series of users’ tweets into the physical world. The platform has teamed up with seven U.S cities for the campaign, which aims to capture the attention of local residents and fight “caution fatigue.” The ads feature tweets emblazoned on billboards, murals, local landmarks and sidewalks in high-traffic areas. The social media site, which has logged more than 100 million tweets about masks since March, will also give away masks for free. Twitter has also added the mask-wearing emoji to its menu of DM reactions and to the #WearAMask hashtag to help raise awareness on the platform, while several of its owned profiles will sport mask-inspired header and profile images. “As always, the people on Twitter say it best. Masks are a huge conversation around the world, and we’re happy to help cities tackle mask caution fatigue with tweets that will make people smile and hopefully mask up,” said Leslie Berland, Twitter’s CMO and head of people. The new work continues Twitter’s out-of-home tactic of running tweets from real users as ads, often placed in markets specific to the content of the posts. After widespread public protests began addressing police brutality against Black Americans, Twitter used its ad approach to highlight tweets about #BlackLivesMatter and racial inequality.

Travel company Tui said it began 2020 with “the best booking month in the company’s history”. But the coronavirus crisis wiped out its operations for three months from mid-March. Between the restart of operations in mid-June and the end of August 2020, the company took 1.4 million people on holiday – filling five out of six seats on its planes on average. But over the same spell in 2019, Tui provided holidays for around eight times as many people. The firm has said it expects late bookings to be the norm “until customers are able to plan with more certainty”. The firm has cut its reduced summer 2020 offering still further by one-sixth, from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, and switched “to alternative low-risk destinations, enabling many customers to continue their holidays as planned”. With infection rates and government restrictions rising, the already reduced winter programme has been cut by a quarter. Tui will now offer 60 per cent of its original programme, down from 80 per cent. Next summer’s overall schedule is expected to be 20 per cent lower, but Tui said average selling prices for summer 2021 are 10 per cent higher. It has restarted cruising on very limited itineraries, primarily in the Baltic, “with a mandatory negative PCR test result a prerequisite for travel”. The chief executive of Tui Group, Friedrich Joussen, concluded: “Leisure holidays remain important to customers and have been one of the most missed activities during the pandemic. We are strategically well placed to benefit as leisure travel volume recovers over the coming seasons.”

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), more often known as the Detroit Auto Show, has announced it will move its reimagined indoor and outdoor show, originally planned for summer 2021, to Sept. 28-Oct. 9, 2021. “We have talked with many of our partners, particularly the OEMs, and they are fully on board and excited about the date change,” NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts said. NAIAS will remain a fall show going forward after the inaugural event in September 2021. Show dates have already been secured with Detroit’s TCF Center for the next three years. NAIAS organizers secured dates towards the end of the month, in part, to be mindful of the new IAA auto show in Munich, which is scheduled for the first full week in September. “Our responsibility as an auto show is to host a global stage for current products as well as mobility innovations of tomorrow,” Alberts said. “September is an excellent time of year for new product, and at the same time, alleviates the challenges a now crowded spring auto show calendar presents for auto show stakeholders.” Additionally, NAIAS is launching a new virtual thought leadership series, Q’d Up Mobility. The monthly series will provide a glimpse into what the 2021 show has queued up for guests – an idea that was born after the cancelation of the 2020 show.

Drinks giant Diageo has been running a global programme, “Raising the Bar” to support pubs and bars to recover and welcome customers back following the COVID-19 pandemic.  To support outlets impacted by the crisis, in June 2020 Diageo announced the $100 million global programme, a two-year initiative to support pubs and bars around the world. In the UK, £30 million of targeted support is currently helping pubs and bars by providing the physical equipment required to re-open, and bring people together to socialise in a socially distanced, safe way. For example the firm is providing: ‘hygiene kits’ with high-quality permanent sanitiser dispense units from innovative partner CleanedUp, medical grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment (such as masks and gloves); help to pubs and bars to establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems; mobile bars, and outdoor equipment.

Walmart has made yet another grab for a share of the apparel segment. Earlier today, the big-box retailer announced the debut of a private-label brand called Free Assembly, available online and in 250 of the retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations. The autumn collection kicks off with 30 items for women and 25 for men, ranging from men’s carpenter jeans for $27 to the dressier Boyfriend Blazer for women, priced at $45, which is also the top of the price range. In a statement, Walmart Fashion Group svp Denise Incandela described Free Assembly as a “modern fashion brand… born from thoughtful, simple design, quality fabrics, modern silhouettes and styles updated for today.” Free Assembly joins an arsenal of private label brands already hanging from Walmart’s racks, including Time and Tru, George, Terra & Sky and Wonder Nation. Walmart’s Incandela said the chain is “serious about establishing Walmart as a fashion destination,” and the addition of Free Assembly is only the latest move in that effort. Aside from its extensive private-label offerings, Walmart also has Bonobos, the menswear brand it purchased for $310 million in 2017. The retailer also offers a variety of “elevated” brands via big-name partnerships, including Ellen DeGeneres’ EV1 and Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara. And in May, Walmart made a foray into the increasingly popular clothing resale space by partnering with ThredUp, adding a feature to its site that let shoppers browse 750,000 preowned items from labels ranging from Nike to Coach and Calvin Klein.

UK organic vegetable box company Riverford has been certified as an ethical B Corporation business, reflecting its focus on its workers’ wellbeing through its employee ownership model. The company scored 124.6 out of 200 in its first B Corp assessment, becoming the second highest-scoring food business overall in the UK behind the chocolate brand Divine Chocolate. B Corp certification uses a broad assessment, substantiated by evidence, to score companies’ social and environmental performance. To certify as a B Corp, a company has to formally give people and environmental considerations the same weight as shareholders or profits. They must score at least 80 out of 200 to be certified and the assessment is repeated every three years. A global model, there are now an estimated 307 certified B Corp businesses in the UK including Guardian Media Group, the owner of the Guardian newspaper, Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and the plant-based cleaning range Seventh Generation, while newer startups include the brewer Toast Ale. Guy Singh-Watson, the founder of Riverford, said: “Riverford has always sought to balance the needs of planet, staff, suppliers and customers, with commercial success being a means to an end, not an end in itself. We have done right by our own definitions, and developed our own measures. I, for one, am intrinsically resistant to assessments of virtue. But these are niceties we can no longer afford; we need an objective, global approach to avoid the ultimate market failure of thoughtless overconsumption leading to self-destruction.” Before lockdown Riverford was making 50,000 to 55,000 deliveries every week, soaring to 85,000 at the peak – 70% up on the previous year. It has settled down to about 70,000 a week, up 40% on last year.

Aviation firm Airbus has revealed three concept jets, all using zero-emission hydrogen fuel for power. The European aerospace company said these designs could form the basis for the first commercial zero emission jets, hitting the skies as soon as 2035. Grazia Vittadini, chief technology officer of Airbus, said energy-dense hydrogen – which produces only water when burned – is one of the “most promising” alternative technologies for long-haul flights. The three concept planes – all codenamed “ZEROe” – can carry between 100 and 200 passengers, and travel up to 2,000 nautical miles, Airbus said. The most radical design is for an ultra-wide plane that sees passengers seated through the fuselage and inside the wings, maximising space to store the hydrogen within the aircraft. “These concepts will help us explore and mature the design and layout of the world’s first climate-neutral, zero-emission commercial aircraft, which we aim to put into service by 2035,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen,” he added.