The Brand Move Roundup – March 27, 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.

Beauty brand L’Oréal has offered its factories to produce hand sanitizer. The cosmetics giant’s brand La Roche-Posay will provide hydro-alcoholic gel to hospitals, nursing homes and main partnering pharmacies throughout Europe, while its other Garnier brand will dispense millions of units of the gel to all of its European clients in the food distribution channel. “In this exceptional crisis situation it is our responsibility to contribute in every possible way to the collective effort,” said Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer. “Through these gestures, L’Oréal wishes to express its appreciation, support and solidarity with all those who mobilize with extraordinary courage and abnegation to fight against this pandemic.”

European multinational financial services company Allianz has moved from words to deeds by supplying oxygen tanks for the new COVID-19 center in the repurposed Fiera Milano exhibition center, now a hospital for virus patients.

In the absence of live sport, US motor racing series NASCAR has embraced esports with NASCAR Esports Sunday, which became the highest-rated esports broadcast on linear television ever. And among the 43 million hours watched on Amazon’s Twitch last Sunday was the Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix, a partnership between Formula One and Veloce Esports.

The CDC has tapped Microsoft to build a chatbot called Clara that asks potential coronavirus patients a series of questions in hopes of screening whether or not they are suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, assessing risk factors and disseminating relevant information. The bot tries to communicate with patients in conversational natural language and can be customized to the needs of a particular organization or integrated with hospital medical records.

The pandemic has largely halted the music industry, so Spotify is giving back with a series of relief efforts. The Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project will recommend charities such as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ MusiCares Foundation and the British organizations PRS Foundation and Help Musicians.

Photo library Getty Images has announced a new $10,000 grant for women and non-binary creatives who have been shooting commercial photographs and videos for less than five years.

Fox and iHeartMedia are teaming up for a musical benefit hosted by Elton John to raise money for COVID-19 victims and first responders. James Corden is also due to host a CBS benefit.

Footwear brand Crocs has announced it will be donating a pair of shoes from its classic clogs and at-work collections to health care workers across the U.S. as part of a new “A Free Pair for Healthcare” program. Crocs will also donate up to 100,000 pairs of shoes to hospitals and other health care facilities.

Backpack brand JanSport has pledged to donate 10,000 packs of food to the World Central Kitchen to help underprivileged students who are not able to get free meals due to school closures.

Over a thousand laid-off SAS airline workers in Sweden are being offered fast-track healthcare training to help Sweden’s beleaguered healthcare system to fight the coronavirus. SAS has laid off 10,000 staff, or 90% of its workforce, temporarily as demand for flights has “more or less disappeared” after many European countries shut borders or advised against travel. Sophiahemmet University will run a three-day pilot for 30 people at the end of March with the hope of extending the course to hundreds more shortly.

“There are incredibly competent people who will be able to offer relief to our healthcare immediately after completing the training so that doctors and nurses can to an even greater extent devote themselves to caring for patients,” Johanna Adami, principal at the University said. The students will be trained in providing information to patients and their families, sterilizing beds and equipment and basic administrative duties.

Loom, a video recording and sharing service has made Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. They have also removed the recording limit on free plans and have cut the price for Loom Pro in half.

Retailer Kroger Co. has announced a $3 million commitment to rapidly deploy hunger-relief resources to communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, via its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. The commitment will be equally distributed between the Foundation’s nonprofit partners, Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. The funding will not only support local food banks nationwide, but also fund initiatives that ensure children, whose schools may be closed, still have access to nutritious meals. Kroger and its affiliates will also continue to donate food and funds to local food banks and hunger-relief efforts.