The Brand Move Roundup – April 9, 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.

Craft, arts and vintage marketplace Etsy has sent a push notification to every craftsperson on its website in the U.S.: “Calling all sellers,” it said. “Start making face masks.” The website is becoming a go-to destination for homemade cloth masks. Etsy says there was an average of one mask-related search on the site every two seconds in March. Last week, more than 10,000 sellers sold at least one mask apiece. Unlike the medical-grade equipment now in woefully short supply at U.S. hospitals, cloth masks can be quickly constructed by anyone with a sewing machine and some elastic. That means the skill sets of legions of Etsy crafters are suddenly in very high demand. “We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis,” the company’s CEO, Josh Silverman, wrote. “We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line healthcare workers. This is an unprecedented moment in time that will undoubtedly shape who we are as a society. It’s a moment for the Etsy community to band together, to do something important – something that serves a public good and will benefit the world as a whole.”

Social sharing tool Snapchat’s latest AR filter lets users donate directly to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. With the Snapchat camera, users can scan 23 international currencies in 33 countries. The AR filter will show how donations to the WHO are used for patient care, medical supplies and research. Snapchatters can then donate and encourage friends to do the same. Snapchat is also giving media publishers covering COVID-19 on its Discover platform a swipe-up-to-donate feature. To date, over 68 million Snapchat users have viewed COVID-19-related content on the platform, so the feature has the potential to reach a huge population. Snap says over 40 percent of Gen Z in the US has tuned in to the content.

Bucking the current media industry downturn, newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst Corporation has told its newsrooms there will be no layoffs, no furloughs and no pay cuts during the course of coronavirus coverage. Hearst CEO Steven Swartz told publishers and editors that the company is giving a 1% bonus to all employees, will create an added bonus merit pool later and is waiving the budget targets that determine executive bonuses. In addition, the company is taking out six-figure TV ad buys in some markets to promote the papers and their pandemic coverage. Other chains and individual newspapers have been making a series of cuts in response to an abrupt print advertising downturn. By contrast, Hearst appears to have decided comprehensive local reports on the pandemic and recession are an opportunity to showcase public service work and build audiences.

The Bitcoin community has come together to support the Italian Red Cross, raising nearly $32,000 through cryptocurrency donations in less than one month, which has been used to finance the construction of the initiative’s first advanced medical post in the town of Castel Gandolfo near Rome. The funds were spent by the initiative to purchase a pneumatic tent for Italy’s “blood donation day” and used as a screening station for pre-donation medical examinations. “With great pleasure, we reached the first main milestone of our fundraising,” said Bruno Pietrosanti, President of the Italian Red Cross. “We are happy to have turned the received donations into a tangible aid and we are excited to have received so much help from the Bitcoin community,” he added.

Tea brand PG tips has partnered with Re-engage, a UK charity tackling social isolation and loneliness, to train 2,000 volunteers to facilitate 100,000 volunteer calls in 2020 to support the oldest in Britain during the lock down. Before the pandemic, Re-engage (formerly Contact the Elderly) held regular social activities, such as monthly tea parties, supporting nearly 8,500 older guests through a network of nearly 14,000 volunteers. PG tips is helping to fund new “call companion” volunteer opportunities for a telephone befriending service which will provide a support network for older people who may otherwise have no one to turn to.

More business chiefs and entertainment industry figures have stepped up to offer sizable sums in donations to various charities and aid organizations. Among the latest crop are  singer Elton John, who has launched a $1 million coronavirus fund to protect people with HIV; Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, and his wife, Susan, who are donating $100 million through their charitable foundation to combat the effects of Covid-19; Denise Coates, founder and joint chief executive of online gambling company Bet365, who has donated £10 million (US$12.4 million) to an NHS trust to support staff fighting coronavirus; Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx Inc., who is donating $5 million to female entrepreneurs who need assistance amid the Covid-19 crisis. The donation will provide 1,000 female small business owners with $5,000 each; Patrice MotsepemSouth African billionaire, founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals who will donate $57 million to help the pandemic. The money will be channeled through the government to build water, health and education facilities; media mogul Oprah Winfrey who has pledged $10 million to help Americans affected by COVID-19 across the country and in places she grew up. Part of the donation – $1 million – will go to a new initiative called America’s Food Fund, which will help feed local communities. Sergio Armatti, CEO of UBS, is donating $1 million through a family foundation. It will go to people in need of emergency funds in the Canton of Ticino, the southernmost region of Switzerland and the worst-affected by the crisis in that country; and Li Ka Shing, chairman of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, has donated $13 million to help front line medical workers in Wuhan, China.

Barclays bank plans to donate £100m ($123m) to charities addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout. The bank said on Tuesday it would donate £50m to charities working with vulnerable people affected by COVID-19 or helping to alleviate the social and economic impact of the crisis. A further £50m has been earmarked to allow the bank to match charity donations made by its employees. Meanwhile, more of Britain’s biggest banks have announced that their chief executives will be taking pay cuts. CEOs at HSBC, Lloyds and Natwest owner Royal Bank of Scotland will no longer get bonuses for 2020, while a number of executives are donating a portion of their pay to charities. Barclays head Jes Staley, for instance, has pledged to donate a third of his salary. RBS boss Alison Rose has agreed to donate 25 per cent of her salary, as has RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies, HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn and finance chief Ewen Stevenson. HSBC chairman Mark Tucker is donating all of his 20202 salary to charity.

Shoe brand TOMS , a long-time advocate of charitable donations through a variety of organizations, has announced that they will be donating one-third of net profits to a COVID-19 Global Giving Fund. For every $3 TOMS makes, they will donate $1 to the fund, which currently supports giving partners the brand has worked with for many years. “TOMS has always been in business to improve lives. That mission is important to us and our community every day. Now, more than ever, we are honored to apply what we have learned over the past 14 years of giving to address this global health crisis,” said Amy Smith, TOMS Chief Giving Officer.

Airline Delta is providing more than 200,000 pounds of food to hospitals, community food banks and other organizations around the world. Both perishable and non-perishable goods are being donated after Delta adjusted service offerings on board and in Delta Sky Clubs to reduce touch points between customers and employees. As a result, Delta has been left with food that would have expired before it could be served to customers, so employee teams have been engaging organizations that can immediately use the food. Delta has longstanding relationships with organizations like Feeding America, a nonprofit network that supports numerous food banks. During the pandemic, local Feeding America organizations are distributing the donations to those in need. In addition, Delta is working to help long-term food service partners including Linton Hopkins, Newrest and Sodexo with resources to serve their communities. In April, the airline started providing free flights to medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis and began utilizing Delta’s wholly owned aircraft interiors subsidiary, Delta Flight Products, to manufacture face shields to protect hospital workers.

A host of entertainers have donated to the MGM Resorts International Employee Emergency Grant Fund in order to counteract the economic impact of the pandemic on the company’s workforce. Among the entertainers who have made donations are David Copperfield, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Kathleen Madigan, David Spade and Boyz II Men. When its properties shuttered in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MGM Resorts said that it planned to pay those full-time employees who were being furloughed or laid off or for two weeks from their last date of work and maintain all health plans through June 30, 2020. Now, Nevada has extended the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses through April 30. “We are incredibly humbled by the support of our entertainment partners, who have come together to assist the people who, during normal times, are committed to creating incredible experiences for our guests from around the world,” said Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts’ Acting CEO and President. MGM Resorts International had already announced its own pledge of $1 million to the fund, which is designed to provide short-term financial assistance for MGM employees and their immediate families during emergencies and unexpected hardships.

English Premier League soccer players have launched a collective initiative to help generate funds for the National Health Service. The initiative – named #PlayersTogether – has been set up to help those fighting for us on the NHS front line amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement posted by more than 150 top-flight players on social media, they said they were “collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other league and club conversation”. The intention, they said, was to “try and help, along with so many others in the country, to make a real difference.”