The Brand Move Roundup – September 28, 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.

British shirt maker Fred Perry has posted an unusually forceful denunciation of the fact that one of its shirts has been adopted as a uniform by violent fascist street gang the Proud Boys. The company has announced that it discontinued U.S. production of the black and yellow shirt some time ago, and posted this on its website: “Fred Perry does not support and is in no way affiliated with the Proud Boys. It is incredibly frustrating that this group has appropriated our Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt and subverted our Laurel Wreath [logo] to their own ends. The Fred Perry shirt is a piece of British subcultural uniform, adopted by various groups of people who recognise their own values in what it stands for. We are proud of its lineage and what the Laurel Wreath has represented for over 65 years: inclusivity, diversity and independence. Despite its lineage, we have seen that the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys.  That association is something we must do our best to end.  We therefore made the decision to stop selling the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt in the US from September 2019, and we will not sell it there or in Canada again until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended. To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand. Frankly we can’t put our disapproval in better words than our Chairman did when questioned in 2017: ‘Fred was the son of a working-class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe. It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with,’ John Flynn, Fred Perry Chairman.”

Google told advertisers Friday that it will not allow election-related ads to run on any of its platforms after the polls close nationwide. “Given the likelihood of delayed election results this year, when polls close on November 3, we will pause ads referencing the 2020 election, the candidates, or its outcome,” Google spokesperson Charlotte Smith said in a statement. “This is a temporary measure, and we’ll notify advertisers when this policy is lifted.” In a letter to advertisers, Google said it’s expecting a “substantial increase in election ad submissions” in the coming weeks and told advertisers to expect 48 hours for approvals” without leeway for expedited requests. Google’s decision applies its “sensitive events” policy after Nov. 3 and said once the policy is in place, “advertisers will not be able to run ads referencing candidates, the election, or its outcome,” since an “unprecedented amount of votes will be counted after election day this year.”

New social network Telepath, which is beginning to send out invites, has a set of simple rules: Be kind. Don’t be mean. No harassment, and no fake news. Telepath is more about your interests than who you know, and it requires real names for the conversations. It’s also positioning itself as a kinder, more inclusive network by making a point to establish ground rules and moderation up front. Anyone who signs up for Telepath has to agree to a set of community rules. Be kind is the first one. But Telepath also specifically bans identity-based attacks, doxxing, harassment, porn and violence, be it in links, images or words. (So, no sharing shooter manifestos or links to sites that encourage violence.) Telepath will also lock threads if they’re deemed to be circling the drain or if people keep trying to get the last word. To sign up, people have to use a real phone number that is validated in the hopes to cut out bot accounts and make it harder to prevent blocked people from returning to the network. Telepath users are also required to use their legal names (with some exceptions for people who are known by other names, such as people who are transgender) in the hopes of encouraging real and authentic conversation. “It’s becoming harder and harder for people to have great conversations on existing platforms,” said Telepath’s co-founder and chairman, Marc Bodnick. “People are mean to each other, and that meanness is kind of rewarded with distribution. There’s tons of disinformation. Women are treated very badly. And so our view was that there’s an opportunity to create a new social network really focused on conversation and connecting people who share the same interest.”

Pernod Ricard’s flagship premium vodka brand Absolut is launching a nonpartisan, integrated US campaign that delivers the message “Vote First, Drink Second.” The effort, “Drink Responsibly. #VoteResponsibly,” includes a new TV spot, the brand’s first broadcast TV commercial in three years, breaking Sept. 29 before the first Presidential debate. The campaign will also feature out-of-home, digital and social. Pernod Ricard USA is giving all employees paid time off on Nov. 3 to vote. In an effort to ensure all voices from America’s spirits industry are heard at the polls, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, Ann Mukherjee, is calling for industry leaders and peers to do the same for their employees. The company joins a host of others across categories activating campaigns around the election as well as supporting their employees in voting, including Impossible Foods, Footlocker, Verizon Media, OKCupid and Jones Soda.  In the past four decades, half of all eligible voters did not participate in the Presidential elections, said Pamela Forbus, chief marketing officer of Pernod Ricard USA, citing a Knight Foundation study. “We’d never tell anyone who to vote for, but if we can inspire Americans to get out and vote – and if they wish to, responsibly enjoy an Absolut cocktail after their ballot has been cast – we will advance our goal of creating a better blended society,” Forbus said. The effort sends a series of direct messages to consumers about making voting a priority – “Vote First, Drink Second,” “Your Vote Can Shake or Stir the Election,” “Save Your Drink for After the Vote,” and “Drinking Can Wait. Your Vote Can’t.”

Hyundai and the United Nations Development Programme have partnered to spread messages about sustainability to people around the world and turn their proposals for sustainable innovation into tangible initiatives. The partnership includes collaborating on a global initiative, “for Tomorrow,” which will help accelerate progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Actress Jessica Alba participated in the online launch event. The project calls for crowdsourcing innovations from the public to help implement these solutions. Under this year’s theme and slogan, “Make Cities Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable,” for Tomorrow will accept proposals from October 2020 through April 2021, in time for Earth Day on April 22.

Amazon has just confirmed that Prime Day will take place on Oct. 13 and 14, marking the second straight year the company has opted to extend the annual promotion to two days. The company first rolled out Prime Day in 2015 to boost sales during the typically slow summer period. This year’s event, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, could help the company shatter its fourth-quarter earnings record. Amazon said it sold more than 175 million items during the event in 2019, surpassing its sales for the previous Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Some analysts estimated its Prime Day revenue last year at more than $7 billion. Walmart, Target and many other rivals typically offer their own discounts during the event to counter Amazon’s effort.

The Beijing Auto Show got underway this week, and while there were fewer foreign car executives thanks to border restrictions, thousands still thronged the huge New China International Exhibition Center eager for a glimpse of what automakers – from marquee international names to EV startups – have in store. Masks were de rigueur, as were temperature checks. But as cities in Europe re-impose lockdown restrictions and infections in the U.S. soar past seven million, the Beijing event shows China’s success in beating back the virus. The capital has recorded just one confirmed Covid-19 case since the start of August, according to official data. The world’s biggest market since 2009, China can still grow because of its relatively low car penetration and rapidly expanding middle class. At the show, Aston Martin China President Michael Peng noted its clientele are getting ever younger, while Porsche China CEO Jens Puttfarcken said he is seeing a fillip from domestic-shackled consumers flush with cash.

Beer brand Cerveza Patagonia is broadening its environmentally conscious credentials with a new Tree Protection Program, through which it will send off saplings to replace any trees blown down by bad weather this hurricane season. Until Oct. 30, Cerveza Patagonia is offering to “protect” its customers’ favorite trees – whether in backyards or neighborhood giants that bring back childhood memories of tree climbing and adventure – by offering to replace each with a sapling if it gets damaged. The aim, the brand said, it to “restore and revive Mother Nature’s green giants,” to give customers a tree to cherish in the future if their favorite one is removed. “Being from Florida, I understand the pain of hurricane season all too well,” said Alexander Monroy, senior brand director at Cerveza Patagonia. “As a brand that already plants a tree for every case of beer we sell, we saw a unique opportunity to help people in a meaningful way this hurricane season.”