The Brand Move Roundup – April 15, 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.

At a time when businesses worldwide are either laying off people or sending them on furlough, CapGemini India has done the opposite, announcing pay hikes for most of its staff – totaling around 84,000 people – starting from April. The remainder will get hikes from July. In addition, they’re providing cash allowances to employees who are stranded in cities around India without accommodation and retaining employees “on the bench” – in other words, those not attached to directly billable projects – without placing a time limit on their employment.

Tegna Inc., which owns or operates 66 television stations in 54 markets, is responsively delivering positive utility to viewers across America. The company’s purpose is to serve the greater good of their communities, and their “Facts Not Fear” coverage umbrella ensures consumers and clients can access verified, trusted information free of sensationalism. Tegna has moved its newscasts out of studio environments and is producing content out of journalists’ basements and living rooms across the country. The company’s meteorologists are hosting “weather classrooms” to help parents with homeschooling via Facebook Live and YouTube, and a partnership with Nextdoor is enabling TEGNA to provide uplifting, hyper-local stories to help communities cope in difficult times.

Arcadia, a US disruptor in the energy space, recently launched its Good Energy initiative in response to COVID-19. The initiative was created to help members who are struggling due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 pay their utility bills and the company is matching donations of $20 dollar for dollar. All of the money, including member donations and Arcadia’s match, will go directly to helping members who need a hand during the economic uncertainty from COVID-19. “When we started Arcadia, we set out to make the energy experience better. Right now, the best way to do that is to use our platform to create community and give people the opportunity to help each other,” said CEO and Founder Kiran Bhatraju.

Spice and condiment brand McCormick has debuted several marketing initiatives to cater to the greater number of people making meals at home. Noticing an increase in people’s questions about cooking at home, McCormick began a Q&A series inviting consumers to send questions to members of the company’s test kitchen through its website and social media channels. McCormick is also monitoring search results to see which questions it can answer indirectly. According to McCormick, the series received more than 300 inquiries in its first three days, with people asking for a wide range of advice, from instructions for baking their own bread to the meaning of “tbsp.” Social media has become a testing ground for McCormick to quickly roll out new programs. On Facebook and Instagram, McCormick food stylist Rachel Miller and executive chef Kevan Vetter have begun hosting their own step-by-step cooking shows, filmed in their home kitchens. On Spotify, McCormick has created three playlists to help set the mood while baking, cooking or preparing a weekend brunch. The company selected songs from consumer submissions.

Health service company Cigna has announced it is launching Dental Virtual Care, which will be available through Cigna’s growing network of dental providers who offer tele-dentistry. The company is also partnering with The TeleDentists, a national virtual care dental provider with more than 300 dentists. Through a video consultation, licensed dentists can triage urgent situations such as pain, infection, and swelling, and guide the customer on next steps. If necessary, the dentist will prescribe medications, such as antibiotics and non-narcotic pain relievers. “We fast-tracked our efforts to launch Cigna Dental Virtual Care to help dentists and their patients access an urgent dental consult while minimizing their risk of COVID-19 exposure,” said Frederick E. Scardellette, Vice President, Cigna Dental & Vision. “This virtual solution is a simple and convenient option to help our customers access care during this unprecedented time.” Cigna Dental Virtual Care will be available this month to over 16 million dental customers enrolled in Cigna’s employer-sponsored insurance plans at no cost through May 31, 2020.

Hyundai Motor Co’s North American unit will expand its support for “drive through” testing for the coronavirus and donate 65,000 tests to hospitals in the United States, the South Korean automaker said. The company announced $4 million in grants and said it would support “drive through” testing at 22 hospitals. Hyundai said it would provide the tests, which have been developed by South Korea-based diagnostics company Seegene, to hospitals in cities including New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.

Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey have joined a global broadcast special telecast this weekend that will recognize the efforts of workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers said on Tuesday. The “One World Together at Home” event, a combination of music, comedy and stories from doctors, nurses and grocery workers, also announced an additional six-hour streaming event that will include appearances by major sports stars, including British Formula One racing champion Lewis Hamilton, U.S. women’s World Cup soccer player Megan Rapinoe, World Cup skier Lindsey Vonn and dozens of other singers, actors and social media influencers. Lady Gaga announced the event last week but it has since expanded dramatically and now includes some of the biggest celebrities in the world, including Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, John Legend, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Chris Martin, Andrea Bocelli and Michael Buble. While the special is not billed as a public fundraiser, it is also aimed at encouraging philanthropists and companies to dig into their pockets and contribute to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Lady Gaga said last week that more than $35 million had been raised from corporations. The April 18 streaming event will precede the two-hour show to be broadcast across multiple North American and international television networks on Saturday evening in the biggest effort so far to show solidarity with front line workers. All those taking part in the event, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and advocacy group Global Citizen, will appear remotely.

SVP Worldwide, the owner of the Singer, Pfaff, and Husqvarna Viking sewing brands, is supporting hospitals, health care providers, and organizations around the world to aid in the shortage of personal protective equipment. The company has donating hundreds of sewing machines directly to hospitals and organizations to help sew face masks, gowns, respirator covers, and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). They have also partnered with a range of organizations, companies, and schools who want to contribute their time and skillset to help out in their communities.; for instance, partnering with Old Time Pottery, a regional home essentials retailer, to join their effort in creating masks for front line healthcare workers by donating sewing machines, tools, materials, and space for sewers. The firm has also donated sewing machines to Christian Siriano  in NYC per Governor Cuomo’s request, and to the seamstresses at Rightfully Sewn to support their mask-sewing initiative in Kansas City, Missouri. They have also been helping consumers directly by providing sewing instructions, patterns and videos for masks, mask covers and gowns.

“Our world is going through a difficult time and our company, just like the rest of the world, has been materially impacted, but it is not stopping us from getting involved and doing the right thing. We are donating sewing machines directly to hospitals and organizations to help sew face masks, gowns, respirator covers, and other PPE.  We are in a unique position to help during this challenging time,” said CEO Carl-Martin Lindahl.

UK supermarket Tesco has started construction work on a dedicated pop-up store for staff working at the newly-constructed NHS Nightingale ExCel hospital in London, which it hopes to open on Sunday. The 24-hour shop is being adapted from an existing retail unit next to ExCel with a marquee at the front to increase the amount of space. It will be staffed by 40 colleagues from nearby Tesco stores. Any surplus food from the store will be redistributed to front line NHS staff where possible and then to those who need it across the borough.

Automaker Ford, which is about to begin production of air-purifying respirators in partnership with 3M, will produce reusable medical gowns from airbag materials and expand Thermo Fisher Scientific’s ability to make COVID-19 collection kits for patient testing. Respirator production is happening at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan. Ford and 3M have worked together to prepare the necessary supply chain to make at least 100,000 respirators. The respirators will use 3M’s air filters that block airborne contaminants such as droplets carrying virus particles. Ford also has begun making medical face masks at a transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Ford will now work with an airbag supplier, Joyson Safety Systems, to make reusable gowns, and collaborate with Thermo Fisher Scientific to boost capacity at its Lenexa, Kansas site to make more COVID-19 testing kits. Ford is providing engineers from its Kansas City, Missouri, assembly plant who will adapt Thermo Fisher machinery to make more glass vials, which are required in the company’s tests, used in drive-through COVID-19 testing centers.

Fast-casual restaurant chain &pizza and Big Four bank Citi have teamed up to launch kitchens devoted to producing pies for workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. &pizza’s Astor Place location in New York, the first restaurant to be transformed into a Hero Kitchen, kicked off the mass production of charitable pies on April 13 for doctors, nurses, administrators, cleaning staff and all of the other essential workers keeping us safe during this public health crisis. &pizza Hero Kitchens powered by Citi will make 100,000 free pies.

“At &pizza we made our choice,” said founder Michael Lastoria. “We’re doubling down on what we’ve always said we stand for – standing with our communities, doing our part to lift up those who have always lifted us. Once we had taken care of our workers, the next step was clear – take care of those with the most urgent need right now, front line workers.”

Hero Kitchens are providing thousands of free or discounted pies per day to hospital employees in most of &pizza’s geographical footprint on the East Coast. Now, with the support of Citi, &pizza can expand the reach of the Hero Pie Program to its Philadelphia and Baltimore markets. “&pizza stepped up early and without hesitation to feed hospital workers, and we’re proud to join forces to make sure they stay fed. It is just one way Citi is expressing how grateful we are for all they do. Even if we’re apart, we’ll get through this together,” said Carla Hassan, chief brand officer, Citi.