The Brand Move Roundup – May 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.

Online accommodation booker Airbnb, which has cut 1,900 employees – 25 percent of its workforce ­– is providing a showcase for ex-staff in the form of a public talent directory. Laid-off employees can opt in to have their LinkedIn profiles, bios and work samples posted online. The website is being widely shared by Airbnb employees across social media. The list of ex-employees being posted to its talent directory reflects Airbnb’s change in strategy. More than 50 former marketing employees from around the world have opted to have their information shared on the site, with job titles from Global Head of Strategic Partnerships, Brand Marketing Manager of North America and Olympics to Global Marketing Lead. Several roles fall into the areas Airbnb is backing away from, including roles like Head of Growth Marketing for Luxury and Market Coordinator for Hotels. The “design” section of the directory already features more than 75 former employees, including roles such as Experience Design Lead, Senior Creative Producer and User Experience Writer. At least 15 more fall under “art and creative” with job titles like Global Lead of Branded Merchandise, Art Director, Global Editorial Creative Lead and Head of Photography Content: Experiences. The list also contains 29 former Airbnb data scientists and five analysts, including Analytics and Insights Senior Analyst and Business Analyst: Hospitality Teams.

The German Bundesliga soccer league returns to action on Saturday, May 16 after a 61-day hiatus. It will be the first of Europe’s elite leagues to return to action and as the English Premier League, Italian Serie A and Spanish La Liga attempt to get their 2019-20 seasons back and completed, the Bundesliga will be under the spotlight. Most of the clubs went back to training at the start of April. They required permission from their local state, and all were told to respect social distancing and keep any non-essential time at the training ground to a minimum. Some players trained in masks. Players and staff are tested twice a week. On match day weeks, the players are tested the day prior to a match and on another occasion during the week (in double match weeks, players will be tested before both matches). They are given two tests to help prevent false results. Results are then given to the team’s head doctor at 10am on the morning of the matches. The teams are also being given antibody tests. At top team Bayer Leverkusen, the players receive a message every morning on their phone, asking five questions about how they are feeling. Depending on their answers, they are then granted permission to go to training where on arrival, their temperature is checked. The DFL carried out 1,724 tests in late April/early May across Bundesliga/2. Bundesliga. For the rest of the season, anyone in a player’s household is subject to voluntary testing. Players are not allowed to have physical contact with neighbors or public, must respect the six-foot social distancing rule, are not allowed visitors at home and are prohibited from using public transport. These rules apply to everyone who lives in the player’s household. They also need to keep a note of all the people they are in contact with and if someone breaks the social distancing rules, players are recommended to go back into quarantine until they have been tested.

Global hygiene and health company, Essity’s Cutimed team has created a new free online tool to help nurses understand how to support and guide patients in successful self-care while many nurses are trying to help patients without being able to make home visits. The free tool is designed to help nurses and patients make this transition successfully. “Self-care,” says the company, “can offer a means to maintain or even improve the capacity to live well over time. In this current climate there is going to be an increasing need for patients to become more comfortable in caring for their own chronic wounds. To assist, we have developed a handy tool that walks patients through the important steps with practical advice.”

Large global brands are to cut ad spend harder, and for longer, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). 89% of large multinational companies have deferred marketing campaigns this month, up from 81% in March, found data from the trade body’s Covid-19 response tracker. 52% of marketers at these companies said they’ll now hold back ad spend for six months or more, compared to just 19% who mulled taking similar medium-term action last month. The WFA’s research was conducted in the last full week of April and attracted responses from senior marketers in 38 companies across 17 sectors with a total annual global spend of $46bn. 61% of respondents held global positions, with 39% in regional roles. In line with advice to keep spending in a time of crisis, some 62% of respondents agreed it was critical for brands not “to go dark” during this period. However, there were still dramatic cuts to spend overall in April. As already detailed by giants like ITV and Channel 4 in the UK, the squeeze is being felt hard by TV, traditionally the biggest media. US broadcasters such as ESPN, CBS, Turner and NBC – which rely on live sports to boost their ratings and advertising hauls – are also expected to take a hit. Globally, the WFA says TV investment will be down 33% across the first half of the year. Print (down 37%), out of home (down 49%) and events (down 56%) are suffering the most, though. Digital is boosting its share of ad spend by virtue of the fact that spend falls in this area are less dramatic, with online video down 7% and online display down 14%. Other channels such as radio (-25%), point of sale (-23%) and influencer marketing (-22%) are expected to experience significant cuts. Global ad budgets are now expected to be down 36% in the first half of the year (up from 23% in Wave I) and 31% for the full year. The global numbers fall is in line with a recent report from E-marketer, which suggested that China – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and the second-biggest ad market after the US – would see total media spend reach $113.7bn , down from a previous estimate of $121.13bn.

British grocery delivery company Ocado has been coping with an unprecedented volume of orders by “reduced complexity” – temporarily making some items unavailable in order to serve more customers. “As an example,” chief financial officer Duncan Tatton-Brown explained, “suspending the delivery of mineral water has allowed us to deliver to 6,000 additional households.” Ocado has struggled to meet demand for its grocery service since the coronavirus pandemic set in. Tatton-Brown said on May 6 that sales for the current quarter are (so far) up 40% from the same time last year, and that the company is delivering to more households than ever before.  Meanwhile in the US, contract workers for online grocery service Instacart have long complained about orders that require them to pack, carry, and transport bulky, heavy items, like bottled water and bags of ice. “Definitely not worth the backache or wear and tear on the vehicle,” an Instacart shopper offered $15.83 to deliver 45 cases of water from retailer Sam’s Club told tech site Ars Technica in November 2018. In Ocado’s case, efficiency gains have also come from customers placing fewer, bigger orders than they did before. “It’s much quicker to deliver one double-sized order than two half-sized orders,” Tatton-Brown said last week.

Louis Borders, founder of the Borders bookstore chain and unsuccessful delivery startup Webvan, has raised $30 million from investors to fund an attempt to beat Amazon, Walmart and others in the suddenly critical business of delivering groceries to American homes. “I’ve always been attracted to really big problems, and this has been a really big problem for a long time,” says Borders, whose eight-year-old company, Home Delivery Service, came out of stealth mode this week. “And here it is still today, not really solved.” In the mid-1990s he tried a concept of using the internet’s growing reach to create a digital grocery store that would allow consumers across the U.S. to store shopping lists online, order through their computers, and receive their food at their doorsteps. Called Webvan, it mushroomed into a national operation valued at $8 billion in just three years. Borders took the business public in 1999, but then the internet bubble burst and the company went down. Borders is now back and aiming to offer free, same-day grocery delivery. This time he says he can leverage strides made in artificial intelligence and robotics to operate highly automated warehouses. Last year just 3% of the roughly $700 billion that Americans spent on groceries were purchased online, according to Bain & Company. But online sales doubled in the first two weeks of March, according to Adobe Analytics, straining Amazon’s food delivery service to the breaking point, while stressing other offerings from Instacart, FreshDirect and Peapod. Borders says he can offer free delivery (no tipping allowed) and competitive prices because of cost savings achieved through automation, as well as cutting out the grocery store middleman and collecting the retail markup himself. “The sky is the limit in terms of the percentage of grocery sales that will go online,” he insists. “There are plenty of online groceries being delivered, but the service levels are low and the fees are high. The industry is kind of up for grabs right now.”

The New York City Council has passed legislation that temporarily caps the commission that third-party delivery services are allowed to charge restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill restricts commission fees charged by apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats at 20 percent during any state of emergency and 90 days following. The legislation comes as the city’s restaurants are being forced to rely on take-out and delivery orders. Currently, third-party delivery services can charge fees that can be as high as 40 percent of revenue, cutting into the already thin margins of the city’s restaurants. According to the New York State Restaurant Association, 80 percent of restaurant workers have lost their job because of COVID-19 closures. Under the bill, third-party ordering apps would be prohibited from charging more than 15 percent commission on deliveries and more than 5 percent for all other charges, including marketing and credit card processing. Violators could face civil penalties of $1,000 per restaurant per day.