The Brand Move Roundup – April 22, 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.

Major League Soccer has launched the MLS Unites and Train with MLS programs – designed to educate, entertain and celebrate heroic efforts during the pandemic. As part of MLS Unites, new programming and content is created and aggregated around a different theme each week (e.g. To Inspire Kids or For Those in Need). Meanwhile, league partner Captain Morgan will donate at least $500,000 across the U.S. and Canada to MLS club partners’ charities of choice, earmarked for providing meals and relief to front-line workers, as well as those most affected by the pandemic. In addition to its initial donation, Captain Morgan also kicked off The Captain’s Challenge on Instagram. Fans 21 and over can post videos of themselves nutmegging someone or something, tag @captainmorganusa and include the hashtag #CaptainMorganDonation, and the spirits brand will donate $25 for each video, up to an additional $50,000, to the cause. MLS senior vice president of brand and integrated marketing David Bruce said, “The Captain’s Challenge captures the spirit of MLS Unites—it brings the soccer community together, all while staying apart, to support those affected during this trying time. MLS is honored to have a dedicated partner like Captain Morgan that’s positively impacting our local communities across the U.S. and Canada both through a generous donation and a unique fun campaign that authentically connects with fans.” The league also said all proceeds from the sales of new cloth face coverings featuring team and league logos via the MLS Store will benefit Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, and Fanatics will donate one face covering for each one that is purchased.

The next London Fashion Week is going to be held entirely digitally, and will merge its womenswear and menswear shows, its organizers have announced. The event, in June, will feature a multimedia roll out to include interviews, podcasts and digital showrooms that will also be open to the public, following the lead of fashion weeks in Shanghai and Moscow that have taken place online due to coronavirus physical distancing. Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and enacting something to build on as a global showcase for the future.”

To help the badly affected restaurant and hospitality industries, e-grocer FreshDirect has joined forces with on-site dining management company Restaurant Associates on RA Kitchen, an alliance that expands FreshDirect’s capacity in the prepared food category, enabling the company to serve more customers with a rotating selection of heat-and-eat meals, while bringing furloughed Restaurant Associates employees back to work. Earlier this year, FreshDirect and NY Common Pantry revealed a philanthropic partnership in which FreshDirect customers contributed to the organization through point-of-sale donations. Over the past two months, FreshDirect customers have donated more than $340,000 to NY Common Pantry.

A quick update: Multi-platform audio and entertainment company Entercom, who we mentioned yesterday has launched “Stay Connected” (#StayConnectedTogether), a public service initiative across its broadcast brands and digital platform to meaningfully impact public health and well-being, has now raised $9.6 million in local relief funds – up from the $5m figure we quoted yesterday. That’s worthy of huge congratulations.

In a move aimed squarely at one of the crisis’s big winners, Amazon, Google is advancing plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. “With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.” Said Bill Ready, Google’s President of Commerce. “For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. We’re also kicking off a new partnership with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts. This will speed up our on-boarding process and ensure we’re surfacing the highest quality results for our users.”

In a gesture to its hometown, New Orleans chicken chain Popeyes is launching the NOLA Strong promotion today. Available nationwide, fried chicken fans can get a family-size NOLA Strong Meal with 12 pieces of Popeyes fried chicken, two classic sides, six biscuits, and a NOLA Strong T-shirt and hat for $28, with all proceeds directly supporting New Orleans families who have been affected by Covid-19.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott International Inc. CEO, has said that the coronavirus pandemic will change the experience of staying in a hotel –  at least temporarily. “No one knows when the lodging industry will rebound from impacts of COVID-19. But one thing is clear,” he said. “Marriott is devising new ways to keep guests and hotel workers safe, including improved cleaning, hotel employees wearing masks, and social distancing measures. I’m hopeful those things aren’t permanent, but instead are about communicating through the operating tools that you can be safe in our hotels, whether you work there or are staying there.”

Fast food chain Burger King has been posting mathematics problems on social media, aimed at school students, and offering prizes to successful pupils – those who solve the puzzles can claim coupons for free Whoppers via the company’s app.