The Brand Move Roundup – March 24, 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.

A clever and thoughtful social media ad from Nike has encouraged people to stay in: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.” Meanwhile, Nike has also announced that premium programming on its Nike Training Club app is now accessible to users free of charge. The subscription-based service includes studio-style streaming workouts, progressive training programs with or without the use of external weights and expert tips from Nike Master trainers. In a third initiative, the brand has announced that it, along with its leaders and the Nike Foundation, will be donating $15m to fight coronavirus. Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, Executive Chairman of the Board Mark Parker and wife Kathy, and President and CEO John Donahoe and wife Eileen, are personally donating a combined $10 million, most going to local Oregon organizations, while the Foundation is spreading the funds more widely, giving to the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, among others.

Popular chicken restaurant/takeaway chain Nando’s is closing its UK stores from tonight – but management has assured all staff that their jobs are secure, and they will continue to be paid during the closure.

Many publishers have lifted their paywalls to give readers access to coronavirus-related content. They include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Bloomberg News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Financial Times and The Atlantic among others. Condé Nast Italy has made digital editions of all its titles free for the next three months to registered users. They include Vogue Italia, GQ, Condé Nast Traveller, Wired, La Cucina Italiana and AD. Before that the publisher came out with an issue of Vanity Fair dedicated to Milan. The issue, titled #IoSonoMilano (#IamMilan), featured 64 personalities from the city, including its mayor, as well as designers, artists, and musicians. It also included citizens like a nurse and a food delivery rider, who have stood out with their work and dedication in this ongoing crisis. The magazine was available free throughout the region of Lombardy, one of the first and most severely hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Following Condé Nast, daily papers La Repubblica and La Stampa are also offering free subscriptions to their digital copies. And so is Hearst Spain, which has announced that it will make 19 of its publications, including Elle, Diez Minutos, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Car and Driver, Esquire and others free between March 12 to April 1.

Listings magazine Time Out’s London edition, previously handed out free to commuters,  has gone digital-only – and temporarily rebranded as Time In. It has pledged to return in print “once the city bounces back.” This is the first time the magazine has ceased printing since 1968.

AirBnB, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus outbreak, has offered free accommodation to medics in Italy. Partnering with local organization OspitaMI to match medical staff with suitable accommodation, it will be covering all costs for stays of up to two months.

Video conferencing software Zoom has been one of the most popular tools in the new working-from-home environment. On just one day recently, 343,000 people globally downloaded the Zoom app, 60,000 in the U.S. alone, according to mobile intelligence firm Apptopia — compared to 90,000 people worldwide and 27,000 in the U.S. just two months ago. And now the company is making it available free of charge to publicly-funded (K-12) schools. Students or teachers who fill out an online form using their school email addresses and are then verified by Zoom will have any accounts associated with that school’s domain gain unlimited temporary meeting minutes. The free Basic accounts are also available by request in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea.

The New York Stock Exchange has, for the first time in its history, opened without anybody on its trading floor. The 228-year-old institution is moving to purely electronic trading.

Apple is donating two million industrial face masks to health workers, via the US Government. “Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19,” tweeted CEO Tim Cook. “We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.” Facebook has also given 720,000 masks, which it says it had as an emergency reserve in case of more California wildfires. Amazon, meanwhile, has promised to source “millions” of masks but has so far not been able to fill the order.

The Tokyo Olympics has finally been officially postponed, it seems, after a period of delays and controversial denials. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that this summer’s Olympics cannot be held under current circumstances due to the new coronavirus pandemic, suggesting for the first time that the games may have to be postponed.

“If I’m asked whether we can hold the Olympics at this point in time, I would have to say that the world is not in such a condition,” Abe told a parliamentary session. “Although the IOC will make the final decision (on the matter), we are of the same view that cancellation is not an option,” Abe said while vowing to work closely with the IOC and the Tokyo metropolitan government on when and how the games could happen.

Chinese car manufacturer Geely is promising contactless delivery for new car buyers – with a car, disinfected by processes including ionization, delivered to the front door and a drone-delivered key dropped to the buyer’s balcony.

Shoe retailer Kurt Geiger has chosen to shut its shops, but is continuing to pay all staff, and asking them to help the local community if they wish to do so. CEO Neil Clifford has also given up his salary for a year, and promised that when the stores re-open, NHS workers will get 50% discount for the next year. It is also operating a #smallactsofkindness campaign on social media. Each manager of its 55 stores will be gifting 55 critical NHS workers in their local hospital with £100 gift cards.

Tech giant Cisco is committing $225 million to assist in efforts aimed at combating the coronavirus. According to CEO Chuck Robbins, the $225 million is “in cash, in-kind, and planned-giving to support both the global and local response to COVID-19. We are focusing these resources on supporting healthcare and education, government response and critical technology. Part of this will go to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, supporting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) worldwide efforts to help prevent, detect, and manage the spread of COVID-19.”

Belgian brewery Alken-Maes has launched an online platform, Café Solidair, on which café-goers can order beers now, to drink when the cafés open again. The brewery wants to help the catering industry, which has been shut down by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus until at least April 5th. “On the website, you can choose your favourite Maes or Cristal café and then select the number of beers you want to pay for in advance,” said Jan Bosselaers, Marketing Director at Alken-Maes. “Once the payment has been confirmed, the amount will be transferred to the café owner. As a consumer, you will receive a voucher that you can use at the reopening of the café to drink your beers. You can also choose to make a donation to your local pub. We are hoping for about 4,000 to 5,000 participating cafés,” he added. The brewery will give the first 400 beers free to every participating café.