The Brand Move Roundup – June 10, 2020

We’re tracking the notable brand moves & highlighting the companies who are tackling this challenge successfully.

Fifteen weeks ago, when the gravity of the situation became clear, we started daily reporting on how brands were dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. What’s now becoming clear is that the current climate is one of near-perpetual disruption. So we made the decision to keep on telling the stories of inspiring brand leadership and strategy amid the latest crises in an anxious world. Our goal remains the same: to provide an up-to-the-minute source of information, inspiration and insight on brand moves as they happen.

Both Twitter and Square are making #Juneteenth (June 19th) a company holiday in the US.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth today celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

Bubba Wallace, the only African American driver in NASCAR’s top-flight Cup Series, wants the sport to ban all uses of the Confederate flag at its events. Meanwhile, he and his team, Richard Petty Motorsports, are preparing to race a car Wednesday emblazoned with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The paint scheme for Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet is set to be black, unlike its look in recent races, with an image on the hood of a black hand clasping a white one in solidarity. The front and rear of the car will feature the phrase, “Compassion, Love, Understanding.” “I think it’s going to speak volumes for what I stand for,” Bubba Wallace said of his car’s design for Wednesday’s race, “but also what the initiative that NASCAR, the whole sport, is trying to push.”

Online file transfer service WeTransfer has run a takeover in the US, donating 100% of its wallpaper ad space to Black Lives Matter causes, including a non-profit organisation designed to combat mass incarceration, Black Future Lab, an organization that works to make black people powerful in politics, and the Movement For Black Lives – a petition to defund police and to invest the money back into the black community. The project will roll out globally this week, with WeTransfer committed to donating $1m worth of advertising space. “Going forward, what we hear loud and clear from the company is they want to do more. This is a topic that everyone feels very impassioned about,” co-founder and chief creative officer Damian Bradfield explained. “Considering racism will not be fixed in the next week or two, we‘re approaching this in a thoughtful way. I hope in the next month or two, we come back with our stance over the long-term.”

HBO Max has removed “Gone With the Wind” from its catalog. The 1939 movie has long been considered a triumph of American cinema, but one that romanticizes the Civil War-era South while glossing over its racial sins. The streaming service pledged to eventually bring the film back “with a discussion of its historical context” while denouncing its racial missteps, a spokesperson said. Meanwhile, The Paramount Network confirmed that it had removed the reality show “Cops” from its schedule, as protests nationwide call for police reform. “‘Cops’ is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return,” a spokeswoman for the network said.

Luxury department store group Selfridges, which operates four shops in the UK, including its London flagship on Oxford Street, is due to reopen shortly, though it will not be able to reopen services such as beauty makeovers, hairdressing or its cafes and cinema because of Covid-19 restrictions. It is hoping a mix of virtual experiences and live entertainments – such as DJs – will help shoppers feel no less pampered. “We will be bringing a little bit more life and a joyful experience for customers who come to our stores,” said Meave Wall, the stores director of Selfridges. The retailer’s online sales have doubled since its stores closed when the UK went into lockdown. Treats including lipstick and lingerie as well as kit for lockdown life, including loungewear and kitchen accessories, have proved particularly popular. Unlike many fashion stores, Selfridges will also be reopening at least some of its changing rooms – with staff on hand to sanitize surfaces and steam-clean items that have been tried on. Items that can’t be steamed will be quarantined for a minimum of three days. Shoppers will be allowed to browse products in stores, with cleaners or shop assistants regularly wiping down surfaces. Tester pots in the beauty halls will not be available but assistants will be able to show products on their own skin from a safe distance. All staff will be given the option of wearing a mask and will have their temperature checked before they start work. Hi-tech people counters will ensure the stores do not get too crowded, with greeters on the door telling shoppers if they can enter or must wait. For those who don’t want to venture to a store, Selfridges is upping its online services with virtual gift advice and Instagram beauty tutorials. Video-enabled personal shopping, which has until now only been offered to regular clients, will be bookable online by anybody from 15 June. “We want to bring Selfridges into the comfort of people’s homes,” Wall says.

Subaru virtually revealed its all-new Crosstrek Sport today – on what would have been the first press day of the canceled 2020 North American International Auto Show. The 2020 Detroit auto show has been canceled, as its venue was used as a field hospital for the Federal Emergency Management Administration. The event was the third large-scale auto show to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, after the Geneva auto show and a postponement of the New York International Auto Show to late August. The cancellation of the Detroit show added to challenging times for auto shows, many of which have been losing momentum and automaker attendees in recent years. This was the first year the Detroit show was set to take place during the summer instead of winter, a move event organizers hoped would draw more attention, attendance and vehicle debuts to the show. The next Detroit show will now take place in June 2021.

As people have had to bring their exercise routines home with them due to Covid-19, businesses like Crunch FitnessOrangetheory Fitness and SoulCycle have pivoted their businesses online – but other platforms have had a distinct advantage in the stay-at-home shift. Online exercise platform Obé Fitness, brainchild of co-founders and co-chief executives Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills, was well-positioned to weather the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but even Obé has had to adapt. Pre-pandemic, Obé’s user base was largely made up of women 25-54. While that still remains its largest segment, Mills said that in the wake of Covid-19, the demographic of its subscribers has gotten much more diverse. More men have joined the platform, and the age range has broadened as well, with month-over-month growth at 70% in March and April. Obé is producing content in front of its paywall specifically for new audiences, such as children and seniors. Knowing that stress levels are increasing, Obé has also incorporated guided meditation videos, a first for the platform. Obé has also rolled out new partnerships, like one with HBO Max, called “Week of So Much More.” It will celebrate the streaming platform’s launch with classes inspired by its shows, such as Sex and the City and Sesame Street. Meanwhile, the founder and CEO of CrossFit is stepping down after a tweet about George Floyd sparked a social media backlash and a wave of affiliated gyms cut ties with the company. Reebok also dropped its affiliation with CrossFit. Founder Greg Glassman apologized for tweets that sparked online outrage by connecting Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic. He said he had made a mistake and should have been more sensitive, but denied being racist.  “On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members,” Glassman said. “I cannot let my behavior stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions.”