The Brand Move Roundup – April 14, 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.

Marriott, with support from its credit card partners American Express and JPMorgan Chase, has committed to provide $10 million worth of hotel stays for healthcare professionals leading the fight against COVID-19 in the United States. The initiative, called Rooms for Responders, will provide free rooms in some of the areas most impacted including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and Newark, N.J. To implement this initiative, the hotel chain has collaborated with the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association to match doctors and nurses with free accommodations at participating hotels.

Beverage giant Coca-Cola has turned over its social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – to outside organizations including the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, Feeding America and the Salvation Army. The channels “have large audiences and we felt the Coca-Cola brand could use its reach to help and support communities and organizations,” a spokeswoman said.

Nasdaq, Inc, the technology business market, is committing cash and in-kind donations totaling $6 million to COVID-19 response and relief efforts. “The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that for all our perceived differences, what matters most is universal: taking care of the people in our communities who make our lives meaningful,” said Adena Friedman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nasdaq. “This means supporting government authorities and global health organizations in their response efforts, increasing our philanthropic support to organizations focused on supporting small businesses, and providing funds to groups working tirelessly on the front lines of this pandemic to keep our communities safe.” A cash donation totalling $5 million will go to the Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund to support small business owners; the World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsForAmerica relief efforts to provide meals to students, seniors, and vulnerable communities in need; and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to help patients and front line health workers get the care and essential supplies they need, while also accelerating efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments. Nasdaq has also donated 12,000 face masks this month to the Greater New York Hospital Association, and will amplify its monetary contributions by double matching all employee donations to global COVID-19 relief and response efforts through the Nasdaq GoodWorks program. In addition, an estimated $1 million of advertising time on the Nasdaq MarketSite Tower in Times Square has been reserved for Public Service messages. Nasdaq is also offering a number of products and services to clients at no cost.

US auto insurance giants Liberty Mutual, Allstate and American Family Insurance have announced they are returning premiums to customers during the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying people are driving less and they are experiencing fewer claims. Liberty Mutual has announced that it will return $250 million to clients, Allstate pledged to return $600 million, and American Family Insurance said it would return $200 million. Liberty Mutual’s Personal Auto Customer Relief Refund will return approximately $250 million to customers; personal auto insurance customers will receive a 15% refund on two months of their auto premium. Allstate called it a “Shelter-in-Place Payback” program, saying most customers will receive 15% of their monthly premium in April and May through a credit to their bank account, credit card or in their Allstate account. “Given an unprecedented decline in driving,” said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Allstate, “customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place Payback of more than $600 million over the next two months. This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents.” American Family Insurance said they will give customers a one-time payment of $50 per vehicle that is covered by an American Family personal auto policy, and expects to print and distribute 2.3 million checks within the next two months. “American Family Insurance is doing this out of responsibility to our customers. They are driving less and experiencing fewer claims. Because of these results, they deserve premium relief,” Telisa Yancy, the company’s chief operating officer, said.

Heinz has announced the launch of new delivery service ‘Heinz to Home’ in the UK. Its first-ever online shop will initially sell canned goods before expanding to sauces as well as the imminent launch of a bundle filled with baby products. Heinz has also partnered with Blue Light Card, a discount service for those in the National Health Service, Emergency Services, Social Care Workers and the Armed Forces. Jojo de Noronha, President of Kraft Heinz Northern Europe, said in a statement: “The shop is a first for us, and it comes in response to stories we’ve all heard in the last few weeks about people struggling to access food and basic necessities. While we continue to work day and night to get our most loved Heinz varieties on the shelf, we hope this new initiative will help those who cannot otherwise access our products.”

Social media platform TikTok has announced a series of relief funds and initiatives totaling $375 million, including $250 million in funds, $100 million in ad credits, and $25 million in ad space for public health information. The $250 million in funding is split between the Health Heroes Relief Fund ($150 million), which will provide money for medical staff, supplies and hardship relief for healthcare workers. Then there’s its Community Relief Fund ($40 million) which provides money to organizations helping communities that have been hit hard by the health crisis (TikTok will also match an additional $10 million in donations). Finally, the service has pledged $50 million to support distance learning initiatives. Along with the direct funds, TikTok is promising $25 million in ad space to help NGOs, health authorities, and local authorities to deliver public health information and $100 million in ad credits to help small and medium-sized businesses which are struggling in the wake of the pandemic.

High-end UK department store chain the John Lewis Partnership is designing and installing a well-being area for medical staff and volunteers at the NHS Nightingale Hospital at Excel London. It will be the only area of the facility designed to give all staff a space to relax and take time out from the challenging environment of treating patients with Covid-19. Alongside this, JLP has partnered with the British Medical Association to distribute care packages for front-line workers to the busiest hospitals across the UK. They will include a selection of non-clinical essentials, including toiletries, snacks, tea, coffee and socks, along with a wellbeing leaflet with information on a counselling service and guidance from the BMA.

Fashion Nova Cares with Cardi B is a new initiative that aims to help people in need. The music artist and fashion brand are giving away $1,000 every hour until May 20, for a total of $1 million. They are hoping to provide immediate relief and offset some people’s financial burdens related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “People are struggling to pay rent, buy food, medicine and other essentials for themselves and their families,” Fashion Nova founder and CEO Richard Saghian said in a press release. Fashion Nova is a large online fashion brand that sells women’s clothes as well as men’s and kid’s styles. Fashion Nova Cares is the brand’s program focused on “charitable giving and advocacy.” This giveaway featuring Cardi B is the program’s latest charitable effort.

Confectionery firm Mondelez International has repurposed its 3D-printing technology – normally used to create chocolate sculptures – to produce medical visors that can be used by front-line NHS staff to keep them safe while they treat patients with Covid-19. The Cadbury owner is helping to produce the hard plastic bands connecting the top and bottom of the visors at its Bournville factory. Working with engineering company 3P Innovation, which last week launched an initiative to bring together any companies able to produce and distribute visors, it is aiming to deliver 10,000 visors each week.

George and Amal Clooney have joined the celebrities giving to coronavirus relief efforts, with the actor and human rights lawyer donating more than $1 million to six organizations – $750,000 total ($250,000 each) to the Motion Picture and Television Home, the SAG-AFTRA Fund, and Los Angeles Mayor’s Fund. They gave an additional $300,000 to three international charities: the Lebanese Food Bank, Lombardo Italy Region, and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Amal is both British and Lebanese, so the couple’s donations to the Lebanese Food Bank and the NHS are personal. The Clooneys have a house in Lombardo, Italy; their donation to the Lombardo Italy Region will help local hospitals there. The couple is also helping actors and entertainment industry workers in the U.S.: The Motion Picture and Television Home and SAG-AFTRA Fund are helping provide financial aid to those affected by the entertainment industry’s widespread shutdown because of the pandemic.

NFL team the Chicago Bears and Bears Care, the team’s charitable arm, have announced a $1,920,000 commitment to COVID-19 relief efforts throughout Illinois. $250,000 has been donated to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund and $250,000 will be donated each to the Advocate Charitable Foundation’s Relief Fund for Critical Care, Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund and the University of Chicago’s Community Support Programs. “During this unprecedented crisis, we all need to join forces and do what we can to overcome this challenge together,” said Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips. “At the Bears, we have committed $1,920,000 to local COVID-19 relief efforts and are encouraging fans to lend a helping hand in whatever ways possible. We will be forever grateful to the healthcare providers, first responders, grocers, sanitation workers, janitors and everyone keeping our communities healthy and safe during this time.”

Samsung is donating $4.3 million in COVID-19 relief to local partners in neighborhoods where a majority of its U.S. employees live and work. These donations build upon the company’s global efforts to date, which now surpass $33 million. The firm will donate $300,000 through Solve for Tomorrow partner, DonorsChoose, to benefit Keep Kids Learning which provides assistance for widespread closures in school districts around the country. To support local needs in the states with the largest workforces – California, New Jersey, and Texas – they will donate $1 million to local charities in each of the four locations.

Members of the Irish rock band U2 have donated €10 million (about US$10.9 million) to Covid-19 relief efforts in Ireland. The fund is part of a pool with other private and public businesses to source and purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals in Ireland. The initiative was conceived about 10 days ago, and the first consignment of PPE purchased in China arrived in Dublin earlier this week.

Rum brand Bacardi is putting £1.5m into #RaiseYourSpirits, an initiative to help bars and bartenders in the UK and Ireland weather the coronavirus crisis. A key plank of the plan is the launch of a virtual bar with Deliveroo Editions, allowing bars to keep serving customers by delivering cocktails to their homes. It will initially include 120 bars in London and Manchester. The scheme is focused on independent bars that do not have the benefit of corporate support. As well as working with Deliveroo, Bacardi is supporting businesses and staff by hiring bartenders to host training events or serve cocktails, and paying their fee in advance; it is also prepaying for events held in bars.

Retailer Lowe’s – one of the few businesses that hasn’t had to close its doors or furlough employees – is urging its customers to give thanks to health care workers in a new campaign. After committing $170 million to coronavirus relief, the Mooresville, North Carolina-based retailer has a new commercial airing on broadcast networks this week that showcases do-it-yourself thank you signs that customers have made. “Join us and DIY a thank you message of your own,” runs the campaign’s tagline.

Microsoft has said it will offer 12 weeks paid leave to employees with children while schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft EVP Kurt DelBene recently sent employees an email about the new initiative, which specifies that parents can take this leave on a “continuous, reduced or intermittent basis,” meaning they can take it all in one chunk or take a day or take a day off or more per week during the planned academic year. The company previously offered two weeks paid leave to affected parents in March, but since then, most schools in the United States have closed and children have either stopped schooling entirely or moved to distance learning programs.

Whitbread, the UK-based operators of the Premier Inn hotel chain and restaurant chains that include Beefeater and Brewers Fayre are placing employees on a temporary furlough while its sites remain closed, but will also be keeping the same employees on full pay, covering the 20% of wages not covered by the UK government’s furlough scheme. The leading hospitality business has to date donated over 27 tonnes of food to charity, the majority of which will be to food redistribution charity FareShare as part of its new partnership with the organisation. The food, which has been diverted as a result of the closure of its restaurants and is enough to provide 64,387 meals, most of which will be redistributed through FareShare’s nationwide network of thousands of front line charities.