The Brand Move Roundup – May 1, 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.

As working remotely has become the new normal, hospitality group Global Hotel Alliance has begun to pivot to meet the demand for non-home workspaces – a kind of WeWork for executives. Their California-based Meritage brand is offering what they call ‘Office Zen’ at its Huntington Beach Paséa Hotel and Spa – an oceanfront work space available 7am-7pm with high-speed wi-fi, two-line speakerphone and complimentary coffee and tea. Combined with the resort’s rigorous distancing, cleaning and sanitizing policy, as lockdowns lift this may prove popular with executives who want somewhere more professional than home, but have abandoned the idea of traditional office life. The Global Hotel Alliance has 35+ brands with more than 570+ hotels spread across 85 countries in its portfolio, so if this proves successful, we could soon see the concept spread worldwide.

Business connectivity platform Okta has released its latest monthly report on apps and usage and found, to nobody’s great surprise, that between February and March, far more users adopted new functionality than usual. “We see growth in two major areas: collaboration tools, especially video conferencing apps, and network security tools such as VPNs that extend secure access to remote workers,” said the report. Zoom was the fastest growing app with 110% growth in unique workforce users in March over February 2020. (For comparison, Zoom grew only 6% during that same time period in 2019.) RingCentral ranked at #6 with 39% growth, and Cisco Webex took #7 with 37% growth. However, as firms tried to keep their information secure during the rush online, network security and performance tools also boomed. Palo Alto Networks GlobalProtect showed 94% growth in March over February, compared to 20% for that same period in 2019. Cisco AnyConnect was close behind with 86% growth. Citrix ADC, which accelerates application performance and secures apps from attacks, had 56% month-over-month growth in that same period. Proofpoint Security Awareness Training was the fifth fastest growing app, with 40% growth. Proofpoint also appeared at #10 with 22% growth, representing the increased usage of their Proofpoint Protection Server, Proofpoint Secure Share, and ProofPoint Threat Insight Dashboard products. An unexpected transition to working from home often requires a new set of problem-solving skills. Many users are turning to Freshservice for their cloud-based IT service desk solution: between February and March of 2020, the number of unique users grew 25%. And LinkedIn Learning experienced 23% month-over-month growth, showing us that users are expanding their skill sets and possibly using this time to invest in themselves.

Police in New Zealand have been required to enforce crowd control measures at a popular fast food outlet after large numbers of people rushed to buy burgers following a relaxing of the country’s lockdown measures. The country spent almost five weeks under a strict, level four lockdown but eased into level three restrictions on Tuesday, meaning some children could go back to school and 400,000 people were able to go back to work. But for many, it was a chance to finally eat fast food. A limited number of restaurants and cafes have been permitted to reopen, which resulted in long queues of cars at KFC and McDonald’s drive-thru outlets throughout Auckland, the country’s biggest city. And at burger joint BurgerFuel in Auckland, the crowds were so large that the police were called. “Day one of re-opening saw our stores inundated with a stampede of customers, way beyond what we had anticipated,” a spokesperson said. BurgerFuel will now only take orders online, and all outlets will have to have a crowd controller at the store.

Famous central London department store Selfridges has announced that its Food Hall is reopening to serve the local community. They’ll also be making it easy for key workers in central London to shop there with NHS, health and social care workers given free use of the store’s parking lot, a dedicated entrance and fast track check out. Customers will be able to stock up on fresh produce from the greengrocer, bakery, butcher and fishmonger plus, for the first time, food boxes and make-your-own kits including Bake-Your-Own Bread, Make-your-own Pizza Kit and At-Home-Pasta Kit. Selfridges will also be selling a range of household and pharmacy items. There will be a limit to the number of customers in store at any one time, a one-way shopping system to help maintain social distancing and hand sanitizer stations. Items from the butchers, fishmongers and bakery will be pre-prepared and packaged. Any leftovers at the end of the day will be donated to one of three charities; City Harvest, The Little Things and HEROES+. Plus, shoppers are being asked to nominate someone in their local community who has carried out an act of kindness to be in with a chance of winning a fridge full of food. They’ll also be giving a free fridge of food to one of the food hall staff members each week.

In an unusual and innovative tourism campaign by Visit Faroe Islands, the destination marketing organization of the autonomous Danish territory located between Iceland, Scotland and Norway, people from all over the world have been logging on to a dedicated microsite to watch a local guide traverse the scenic islands via a live streaming camera attached to her hat. They can also join the queue to ‘remote control’ the explorer – commanding her with a virtual controller to run, jump, turn left or right, continue forwards or turn backwards. The “Remote Tourism” campaign is a smart way to keep the picturesque, if remote islands, in travelers’ minds as a post-lockdown destination.

UK magazines-to-radio media conglomerate Bauer Media has assembled a pandemic ‘tone’ consultancy called Bauer Adventure from its content, creative and commercial professionals to help brands decide how to market themselves during the pandemic. The agile consultancy has been created in response to industry furloughs, reduced budgets and stymied production capabilities at home. Adventure said DIY chain Wickes was one of its first clients, with pre-booked spots tailored to encourage at-home DIY projects. Bauer said Adventure will be available to clients on all projects, no matter the budget or scale of the campaign. Lucy Wheeler, director of Bauer Adventure, said: “It is more critical than ever for brands to use the right messaging and tone in their advertising as consumers become increasingly more judgmental and open to brand switching.” A study by the firm said that 85% of listeners expect ads to be non-exploitative – yet 91% have already shifted brands, and 85% would consider doing so after the lockdown. Furthermore, ads addressing Covid-19 garner 15% more attention than those that do not, said the research, gathered from a nationally representative survey of 1,495 people.

Adidas Singapore has made its training apps free for citizens going without access to gyms or classes under lockdown. The sports giant has removed the financial barrier of using its Adidas Training and Adidas Running apps and has launched a campaign called the “#HomeTeam” initiative, to help people stay active while staying at home. The brand is providing users that sign up before the end of April free access for 90 days, to help people stay active even though gyms and sports facilities have been closed due to lockdown measures. The brand is also creating lockdown content, extending its remit beyond athletics and sport and delving into more creative types of workout content in partnership with its creators and ambassadors. “We are rolling out free virtual experiences across social and digital channels,” said Petr Stastny, country manager at Adidas Singapore. “In addition to live workouts and nutrition tips, there will be live DJ streams, lunchtime jams and inspirational content for our community to stay mentally strong, inspired, creative and hopeful.” Early data from activity in March shows that people are responding well to brands launching such initiatives. “To encourage the community to stay active,” he said, “we also launched a ‘Fit From Home’ Challenge in March, where anyone from around the world could join in and help to achieve a collective goal of staying active: 1 million workout hours by 19 April. We saw over half a million participants.”