The Brand Move Roundup – June 26, 2020

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

Three months 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.

Verizon has said it will pull advertisements from Facebook and Instagram until the company “can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable.” It’s likely the largest brand to pull ads from the company to-date, amid a growing boycott of Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram’s ad platform by roughly a dozen brands. After a handful of outdoor companies like North Face, REI and Patagonia said they would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram last week, several other advertisers have joined the movement, including Ben & Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher, Eddie Bauer, Magnolia Pictures, Upwork, HigherRing, Dashlane, TalkSpace and Arc’teryx. Heavyweights in the ad industry have also begun pressing marketers to pull their dollars. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, one of the largest advertisers in the country, has threatened to pull spending if the platforms didn’t take “appropriate systemic action” to address hate speech. Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson said: “We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.” The boycotts are a result of pent-up frustration from lawmakers and marketers over Facebook’s content moderation policies, which many feel don’t go far enough in helping to curb hate speech and harmful content online. That frustration reached a tipping point during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, as Facebook refused to fact check or moderate posts from President Trump that many argued incited violence against protestors.

Nestlé has announced that it will rename its Red Skins, Chicos and Beso de Negra products. “A diverse and inclusive culture is the foundation of our strength. Nestlé’s values are rooted in respect, and we have zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any form,” the company said, while promising to review its portfolio of more than 2,000 brands and 25,000 products to “identify any required changes to our use of imagery or language.” Nestlé said that it has already found a handful of local brands that “use stereotypes or insensitive cultural descriptions” and that the products will immediately be renamed and redesigned.

The Indian subsidiary of the consumer products conglomerate Unilever is changing the name of its skin lightening cream Fair & Lovely. We recognize that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right,” said Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty and personal care. The name change comes amid heightened scrutiny over racism and following a petition to Unilever to cease sales and production of the product that “promote[s] the superiority of whiteness.”

Unilever said it will reveal the brand’s new name in the next few months. Earlier this month, Bollywood celebrities like Priyanka Chopra Jonas drew ire from users on social media who called them hypocritical for voicing support of Black Lives Matter while appearing in skin lightening cream advertisements. The estimated market value for skin lightening products in India – which includes creams, face washes, deodorants and vaginal whitener – was $4bn in 2017, led by Fair & Lovely, the category’s best-known product, according to Fashion Network. 

Disney said that it would be remaking one of its most popular theme park rides, Splash Mountain, which depicts characters and songs from “Song of the South,” the racist 1946 musical. The 31-year-old flume ride will instead be modeled on “The Princess and the Frog,” the 2009 musical that introduced Disney’s first black princess, Tiana. The name Splash Mountain will also be retired. New Adventures With Princess Tiana is the working title of the coming attraction, which will be set in the Louisiana bayou.

Musician-centered website Bandcamp has been a standout success during the pandemic, thanks to its support for the creators who use it to sell music and merchandise. “The growth of the company has been almost comically steady. For 11 years it’s a line like this,” said founder Ethan Diamond, holding his hand out at a gentle incline. “This year will be the first year where there’s a noticeable change in the growth rate, and that is because of the pandemic and the awareness that has been raised around the need for fans to directly support artists.” When Covid-19 hit, Bandcamp announced it would waive its usual 15% fee for one day in order to support artists affected by the shutdown of live music. On 20 March, fans bought 800,000 records on Bandcamp in 24 hours, totaling $4.3m of music and merchandise – 15 times more than a typical Friday. Bandcamp announced three more fee-waiver days. On 1 May, fans splurged $7.1m; millions more were spent on 5 June, with another waiver day coming up on 3 July. “I had no idea what to expect, but the whole thing was inspiring,” Diamond says. “A lot of the independent labels waived their fees as well. Sometimes, besides just passing the money on to their artists, they gave to food banks and other organisations. Those independent labels aren’t big, mega-funded corporations; they’re small businesses, and that was amazing to see.”

YouTube‘s average daily views of videos related to sourdough leaped more than 400% between March 15 and the end of May compared with the two-and-a-half month period that preceded it, said the Google-owned video company. Average daily views of videos with “workout at home” in the title increased more than 200% after March 15 compared with their average for the rest of the year. YouTube didn’t update its total number of monthly unique visitors, which, last year, it said exceeds 2 billion a month. But the company said that more than 100 million people watch YouTube and YouTube TV on their TV screen each month in the US and that the amount of time watching them on TV screens rose 80% in the US compared with the previous year.

The public health crisis claimed two more of the world’s biggest marathons on Wednesday, with organizers in New York and Berlin canceling their races this year. The cancellations left the sport without three of its six most important races in 2020 – the Boston Marathon was called off in May – and increased concerns that interruptions to the endurance sports world would continue until there was a medical solution to the crisis. The New York City Marathon, one of the most prestigious and lucrative events of its kind, would have celebrated its 50th anniversary in November. It is one of the highlights of fall in New York and a spectacle for endurance sports, attracting more than 50,000 runners, 10,000 volunteers and roughly a million fans, who line nearly every accessible yard of the 26.2-mile course through the five boroughs. City officials and New York Road Runners, which owns and organizes the event, decided holding the race this year would be too risky. Runners who had signed up for this year’s race in New York will be able to choose to receive a refund or to defer their entry to the race during the next three years. They will also have the option to run the race virtually from Oct. 17 to Nov. 1. Organizers said they would announce details of the virtual event in July. The London and Chicago marathons remain scheduled for the fall, but organizers have yet to commit to holding them. The Tokyo Marathon went forward in early March only with elite runners, but that is not a long-term solution; without ticket sales in the sport, organizers need money from casual participants to help pay for the elite field’s appearance fees and prize money.

In sad news for fans of giant robotic rodents, the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, the once popular children-themed restaurant chain, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saddled by a huge pile of debt and dismal sales because of lockdowns across the country. Already loss-making, the outbreak shut the door on a rebound as sales plunged after restaurants were forced to close as lockdowns were put in place. Chuck E. Cheese was hit especially hard owing to its children’s party and games venues. Its parent company, Irving, Texas-based CEC, reported nearly $29 million in losses last year, compared to losses of $20.4 million in 2018. Chuck E. Cheese’s bid to boost sales through delivery apps under the name “Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings” earlier this year only created more problems, as many customers thought they were ordering from a local business.

Major automobile parts supplier, Marelli is launching a new product, “NEKO no TE” (No Touch), which is designed to act as a ‘remote hand’ which can be used in many situations when going out, such as straps, elevator buttons, door knobs, and ATM touch panel operations. The ABS plastic gadget features a cute design with a cat motif and will be on sale in Japan from the beginning of July. “We have developed the product to respond to the feeling “I want to keep my hands away” when I go out, with the aim of supporting a new lifestyle to prevent infection,” said the company.