The Brand Move Roundup – July 9, 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.

Drinks maker Pernod Ricard has announced a plan to create a crowdsourcing app that gives consumers and those affected by hate speech on social media the power to identify and report content they find objectionable directly to brands and companies. Brands can then leverage their influence with social media platforms to help ensure the content is reviewed and removed, if warranted. The app will be an additional resource for individuals, brands and social media platforms to use in the fight to stop hate speech online. “The world is waking up to the reality that we all have a role to play in stopping the spread of hate speech, racism and misinformation on social media platforms,” said Pernod Ricard USA CEO Ann Mukherjee. “There is a long way to go. Movements like #StopHateForProfit are demonstrating that brands and consumers want them to take more urgent action. This is important, and it is why we are joining the movement for the next 30 days across all paid social media platforms, not just Facebook. But this is not sufficient. The big question is: What happens August 1st? We need more action and more people within the industry to find more solutions. Companies like ours can and should play a bigger role in problem-solving than just withholding advertising dollars. We can create tools that make it easier for consumers’ voices to be heard when they see hate speech spreading online. And that’s what we are doing. This is our initial step. And we want it to be a collective one. As a member of many major US and Global industry organizations, which include other advertisers, as well as media and social platform companies, we want to work collaboratively with each towards this solution. At the same time, we invite all brands, big and small, to join us. Our hope is that all brands are inspired to take action on this issue in ways that make sense for them and align with their values.”

The Disney Plus premiere showing of hit musical Hamilton over the July 4th weekend was hugely successful, according to just-released figures. From Friday through Sunday, the Disney Plus app was downloaded 752,451 times globally, including 458,796 times in the U.S., according to analytics firm Apptopia. That means that in the U.S., total Disney Plus downloads were 74% higher than the average of the four weekends in June 2020 over comparable time periods (Friday through Sunday). Worldwide, app downloads were 46.6% higher this past weekend than the average of the four prior Friday-Sunday totals. Disney had moved up the release by more than a year as the pandemic left viewers with fewer viewing options – major American sports are still paused and new movie and TV show production has ground to a standstill. Hamilton joined ESPN‘s The Last Dance documentary series about the 1990s Chicago Bulls in accelerating their release dates to capture audience demand.

However, Google Trends data indicates that interest in downloading ESPN+ when “The Last Dance” was released April came nowhere close to the Disney+ surge this weekend. In terms of net subscriber gains, the Hamilton bump for Disney Plus was certainly higher than the mobile app data reflects, given that people could sign up for the service online and through smart TVs (and may not have also downloaded it on mobile), noted Apptopia’s Adam Blacker, VP of insights and global alliances. As of early May, Disney Plus had signed up 54.5 million subscribers worldwide just six months after its launch. In the U.S., it costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. The Hamilton movie, featuring the original cast, is a “live” recording of the musical captured via six cameras as it appeared on stage in New York. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Disney shifted the film to a direct-to-streaming release about a year before it was originally scheduled to play in theaters.

The coronavirus crisis has forced fashion labels to move from physical events to online showcases, and Chanel’s contribution to the first digital couture fashion week was a one-minute-22-second film on its website with models Rianne van Rompaey and Adut Akech wearing 30 outfits from the house’s most elite collection. This video was showcasing creative director Virginie Viard’s designs to the couture customers who might be tuning in. It contrasted with other brands’ take on going digital, such as Schiaparelli’s film of designer Daniel Roseberry sketching his collection or Christian Dior’s narrative of mythical creatures being coaxed into couture dresses.  The Chanel collection was inspired by the life of the late Karl Lagerfeld, with whom Viard worked for over 30 years at Chanel, before becoming creative director after his death in 2019. This is the second video Chanel has released since the pandemic. The first, for the “cruise collection”, was released on 8 June. The seven minutes of models standing in front of imagined seascapes and on elegant balconies was criticised as not reading the room while the news cycle focused on the emerging protests around George Floyd’s death and cities emerging from lockdown. However, the engagement rate – a measure of how much consumers are interacting with content online – has risen from 7.2% for last year’s physical cruise show to 8.5% for this year’s digital one, perhaps demonstrating that consumers appreciate a straightforward approach to fashion presentations.

Time Out Group and Instagram yesterday announced a joint partnership to further support small businesses in London and New York. The partnership includes two-day virtual festivals via Instagram Live – one in New York, Experience:NYC, and one in London, Experience:LDN. Both will take place from morning till evening on July 9th and July 10th. Each city festival will be livestreamed exclusively on Time Out New York (@TimeOutNewYork) and Time Out London’s (@TimeOutLondon) Instagram. The two-day event will showcase a variety of independent BIPOC, female and LGBTQ+ owned small businesses that have uplifted their communities throughout the last several months. During the festival, viewers will be encouraged to support small and independent businesses through gift card purchases, food orders and donations on Instagram, which will go towards charities Robin Hood in NYC and Hospitality Action in the UK. The partnership with Instagram is part of a wider Time Out Love Local campaign, an initiative to support local businesses during this difficult time. Time Out Group CMO Sumindi Peiris said: “For over 50 years we have been seeking out the best of city life. We believe that local, independent businesses are what makes our cities so unique and help create memorable cultural experiences. We are thrilled to collaborate with Instagram, another consumer-loved brand that connects people with what they are passionate about to support our Love Local campaign.”

In the age of Covid-19, the move to contactless payments has accelerated drastically. Between March 2019 and March 2020, they grew in the U.S. by 150% according to Visa. Now Venmo, an app typically used for transactions between friends and family, is launching a new feature for sole proprietors, side hustlers and sellers to launch a Business Profile on the app. Through this new profile, businesses will be able to utilize touch-free transactions with an individualized QR code. They’ll also be able to market their businesses by attaching their sites and descriptions to their pages. Venmo said it understands this time is especially hard for individuals to “connect, market and grow their businesses, relying solely on traditional methods like word of mouth without access to big marketing budgets.” Other major players are exploring advances in contactless payments as well. Amazon was rumored earlier this year to be testing pay-by-hand scanner payments, which link credit and debit cards to the handprints of consumers, while Walmart responded to the need for contactless pickup and delivery throughout the pandemic with a mobile app that stores payment information.

Japan’s theme parks are urging patrons not to yell on roller coasters to slow the spread of the coronavirus. In a recent video, top executives from one of the country’s parks rode a roller coaster in total silence. The video, which was released by Fuji-Q Highland park, ends with the message: “Please scream inside your heart.” The no-yelling recommendation was included in a set of reopening guidelines released in late May by the East and West Japan Theme Park Associations, which comprises dozens of major park operators. The rules have been adopted by most of Japan’s theme parks, but people weren’t sold that riding roller coasters without screaming would be possible, so Fuji-Q decided to prove it to them. “We received complaints that the theme park association’s request to not make loud noises was impossible and too strict,” a Fuji-Q spokesman said. “That’s why we decided to release the video.” The theme park association’s guidelines also suggest more standard safety protocols that have been widely adopted by businesses around the world, such as face-mask requirements, temperature checks, reduced capacities, and an emphasis on social distancing.