The Brand Move Roundup – April 17, 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.

AirBnB are having to innovate to maintain their business during social distancing, while staying true to their positioning, which is about authentic local experiences and the idea of belonging. They have just launched a new service: online experiences. Basically, unique experiences you can share with others online, from virtual cocktail sessions to meditation, entertainment and education.

Flight booking website Skyscanner have followed suit, with virtual guides to destinations and experiences, from world museums you can explore from home and how to experience live performances from the comfort of your sofa, to nature videos and wildlife camera streams. “We know times are tough for travelers,” said the company. “There’s a whole world out there, but you can’t go further than your front door. To keep you dreaming of where you’ll go when this moment passes, we’re creating a series of guides that bring the world to you. It’ll never replace the real thing, but hopefully, it’ll remind you of all the wonders out there ready to explore someday soon.”

Without actual games to look forward to for the foreseeable future, the NBA has turned to alternate forms of competition during the coronavirus quarantine. After putting together an NBA 2K players-only tournament, the next event was a HORSE Challenge (for non-basketball fans, a shot-for-shot matching competition) consisting of current and former NBA and WNBA players. Each player took their shots from their own isolated home courts. The HORSE Challenge will help more than sports-starved fans, as State Farm plans to donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus response efforts.

Hotel group Accor has established the All Heartist Fund, a special purpose

vehicle which will help employees with uncovered medical expenses, furloughed staff facing significant financial hardship, and front line health care staff and non-profit organizations. Around the world, Accor hotels have also introduced countless solidarity initiatives to support front-line healthcare professionals, first responders, non-profit organizations and vulnerable groups. This includes the creation of dedicated Coronavirus Response Desks, making rooms available to healthcare staff, supplying food and other perishable items to local shelters and food banks, donating medical supplies to local hospitals, providing rooms as emergency overnight shelter to the homeless and lighting up their building facades in the shape of a heart in a show of hope and inspiration. Top-flight French football club Paris Saint-Germain, in collaboration with ALL (Accor Live Limitless) and other supporting partners, is also helping to support healthcare professionals who are fighting the epidemic on the front line every day. The Club has launched a “Tous Unis” (All Together) jersey available on the official PSG online store, bearing the logo of Assistance Publique – Paris Hospitals (AP-HP), the Greater Paris University Hospitals and 100,000 healthcare staff. The funds raised will go towards supporting healthcare professionals. In the United Kingdom Novotel London Excel is housing NHS workers in support of NHS Nightingale, a new field hospital in London specifically for people infected by the virus. Other Accor ibis and Novotel hotels in the Excel area have pledged to support NHS staff as the need grows. The Pullman in Liverpool has set up a partnership with the local hospital and is now hosting elderly patients that have been discharged and are recovering from Covid- 19. A number of Mercure hotels around the country have made rooms available for rough sleepers and asylum seekers. Similar moves are underway in France, while in North America Accor hotels are doing their part to support colleagues, guests, partners and local communities impacted by COVID-19. In Toronto, the Fairmont Royal York has partnered with local healthcare foundations to provide accommodation to front line healthcare workers. In Room Dining is available for in-house guests via a non-contact delivery model whereby the room service trolley is placed outside of room. In Boston, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the hotel’s culinary team is donating perishable items regularly to the Boston Rescue Mission, an emergency overnight shelter for the homeless that serves healthy and hearty meals. On the big island of Hawaii, Fairmont Orchid has donated 580 masks to Hawaii Island hospitals. In South America, Accor is offering a solidarity rate in its hotels with the objective of cooperating in the fight against the disease. This action serves the elderly and other at-risk groups, helping them to isolate and stay safe. Several hotels like the ibis & ibis budget São Paulo Morumbi (Brazil) and the Mercure Iguazu (Argentina) have donated perishable food & beverages to various associations and institutions. At the Novotel Morumbi São Paulo, the hotel is working with a private hospital to accommodate doctors and administrative staff. In India, the ibis New Delhi Aerocity is providing support and assistance to the Government with medical care and observation for Indian guests returning from abroad. In Belgium, an ibis hotel in the city of Aalst has been converted into a care site to accommodate patients who have been discharged from the hospital but are still not yet able to return home, and across the United Arab Emirates, 20 hotels within the Accor network are being used as quarantine or testing centers for travelers who have been repatriated from abroad.

Chipmaker AMD is setting up a unique COVID-19 fund to provide additional computing resources where they are needed most. The fund will initially start with a $15 million USD donation of systems powered by EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs to some key research institutions. AMD is also set to contribute resources to the ‘Corona’ system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, separate to the fund, in order to double the peak system performance there. AMD is also donating $1m to a variety of other funds to help in efforts, in addition to medical equipment, employee donation matching, and prioritizing shipments of embedded processors for use in medical equipment such as ventilators.

In this crisis, many tech firms have partnered together. The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium is one example of this, with 25 active products, 31 members, and approximately 418 PetaFLOPs of compute power –compared to the world #1 supercomputer, Summit, which has only around a third to a half of this processing power.  The Consortium is currently the biggest culmination of off-site compute resources for researchers that need time on supercomputers. Other tech companies with significant donations to COVID assistance include Intel who has offered one million protective items for healthcare, $6m for Coronavirus relief, $40m in learning initiatives, $10m to support partner and employee-led initiatives, and also opened up some of its IP to researchers and scientists. Xilinx has donated $1.1m, split between several funds including the WHO and closer-to-home funds. Qualcomm has donated an undisclosed amount to several funds, including supplying laptops and devices to schools and non-profits tackling the issue. Alibaba is offering cloud services to COVID-19 research free of charge, while Amazon’s AWS is donating unused GPU compute time. NVIDIA has put their Saturn V supercomputer onto the problem, and RIKEN’s new supercomputer, Fugaku, in Japan, was set to be fully installed by 2021 – however the portion that is currently built is now being made available to researchers.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, have announced increased donations to COVID-19 treatment and relief efforts. The Foundation announced an additional donation of $150 million bringing its total commitment to more than $250 million. The funds will be directed toward efforts to strengthen coronavirus response in Africa and South Asia, develop and deliver treatments and vaccines, accelerate detection and containment of the virus and protect vulnerable communities in the United States. Grosvenor will donate $15.7 million toward charities and organizations battling the coronavirus pandemic. The Westminster Foundation said Grosvenor, the richest person in the world under the age of 30, has added a $12.55 million donation to the $3.14 million he gave in March. That donation primarily went to charities focused on feeding vulnerable families and children who would normally receive free meals at school. The biggest chunk of the new donation will support National Health Service workers. “NHS staff and key workers don’t work in isolation,” Grosvenor said. “They have children and families whose health and wellbeing will also be highly impacted by this crisis. As they keep us safe, I want to help provide as much support to them and their families as we can.” The new infusion of funds will be split among the NHS Charities Together ($6.27 million); national medical research linked to COVID-19 ($3.76 million); and charities providing support to people most vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic ($2.5 million).

ExxonMobil affiliates around the world have been actively involved in local efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19. The firm’s operations include China, Europe, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Guam, Hong Kong and Indonesia, and their efforts have ranged from raising funds for local charities to providing supplies of lubricants to emergency response organizations that assisted construction activities at the Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals, were used in the production of ambulances, and increased supply of oxygen tanks to major hospitals in Wuhan, producing hundreds of millions of elastic ear loops for medical masks, donating isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to help produce hand sanitizer for use by hospitals, nursing homes and first responders, and about 100 operational laptop computers to local authorities, printing flyers in local dialects with information from both the WHO and NDoH, and equipping ExxonMobil service stations with specially designed window panels for cashiers while implementing social distancing procedures for customers.