The Brand Move Roundup – August 3, 2020

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

Four 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.

The Facebook ad boycott is almost up. And while organizers are calling the movement “a huge success” and are ready to ease their pressure on brands, some advertisers like Coca-Cola Co., Chipotle and Eddie Bauer say they will remain off the social network and Instagram beyond July. Other brands, like The North Face, which was the first major advertiser to join the boycott, plan to resume spending. The organizers of Stop Hate for Profit, the civil rights groups that sparked an advertiser rebellion of Facebook, said that there is still work to do, but that they achieved many of their goals. Stop Hate was ready to tell boycotting brands that they could return to advertising on Facebook with heads held high. “They should be very comfortable,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the groups behind Stop Hate for Profit. “I think this campaign was an unambiguous win, that I think they should be proud to share with their consumers, their employees and their board.” The North Face said: “We are encouraged by the initial progress and recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we will continue to engage in dialogue with Facebook to hold them accountable for the actions they plan to implement. We intend to resume our working relationship with Facebook and Instagram in August.” Stop Hate for Profit began in June to protest what organizers considered to be an alarming rise in hate speech and disinformation on Facebook. The coalition included the ADL, NAACP and Color of Change, which were all energized in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the world after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The movement attracted hundreds of brands, including Unilever, Starbucks, Pfizer, Verizon, Ford and Adidas. Other brands didn’t officially join the protest, but they pulled back spending on Facebook and Instagram quietly, including McDonald’s, Kraft-Heinz and Geico. Other boycotters have called Facebook’s moves insufficient and said they would continue to stay away. They include J.M. Smucker, Beam Suntory, Eddie Bauer, SAP and Boston Beer Co. And advertisers that paused their Facebook spending for longer periods or without a set return date, such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, Chipotle and Verizon, said they aren’t ready to come back.

Meanwhile, Facebook weathered coronavirus and now says it’s hanging strong during the brand boycott, after the company reported its most recent earnings. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the number of advertisers is growing, now at more than 9 million, despite hundreds of major brands freezing their activity as part of the Stop Hate for Profit movement. “Some seem to wrongly assume that our business is dependent on a few large advertisers,” Zuckerberg said. “Now, while we value every single one of the businesses that use our platforms, the biggest part of our business is serving small businesses. Our advertising is one of the most effective tools that small businesses have to find customers, to grow their businesses and create jobs.” Facebook previously said there are more than 8 million advertisers across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The number was updated to more than 9 million on Thursday. Facebook said that more users and advertisers were flocking to its platforms during coronavirus, as the outside economy was shut down and people relied on the internet to operate. Facebook said it generated $18.3 billion in ad revenue in the second quarter, an increase of 10 percent year over year. That was lower growth than it saw in the first quarter, when ad revenue rose 17 percent, but it was still a gain during a time when the economy was heading downwards from the effects of coronavirus.

Brixton prison in south London is cooking, selling and delivering take-away meals. The intention is to keep its training restaurant functioning during the pandemic. The prison has a professional-standard restaurant, the Clink, which teaches culinary skills to prisoners, to help them get jobs when they are released. But the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped guests coming inside the prison to eat at the restaurant, and its closure took away the inmates’ training, so the restaurant has turned to selling take-aways – clink@home – with meals brought to customers in the prison project’s delivery van. The purpose of the restaurant project is to provide job skills to cut reoffending rates. Chris Moore, chief executive of the Clink charity, says switching to the take-away service allows inmates to keep training for catering qualifications. Customers in a five-mile radius can order a meal online, which will be cooked in the prison restaurant, under the supervision of chefs. The restaurant is designed to teach work-related skills, leading to catering qualifications, with the professional menu intended to allow ex-offenders to get jobs when they are released. Keeping the kitchens open for takeaways gives inmates useful work and keeps up their training, said Mr Moore. “It’s investing in someone’s future. They get a chance to get their life back on track and not be a burden on society. It’s giving someone a second chance.” The project, which has links with 280 employers, has been backed by research from the Ministry of Justice, which wants to reduce the £18bn cost to taxpayers of reoffending. Researchers for the ministry found a significant reduction in the risk of reoffending for those who had been through the Clink restaurant training.

Information bubbles online have been blamed for contributing to social dislocation and increasingly polarized views. TheirTube is an attempt to solve this problem, letting you experience how the YouTube home page looks differently for six personalities: conspiracist, prepper, conservative, liberal, fruitarian, and climate denier. As the site explains, “each of these personas simulates the viewing environment of real Youtube users who experienced being inside a recommendation bubble through recreating a Youtube account with a similar viewing history.” Apart from the obvious use – to help you get a better idea about their own filter bubbles – TheirTube shows you how YouTube’s recommendations can shape your experience or the platform, and by extension, your worldview. The team behind TheirTube created six YouTube accounts in order to simulate the experiences of real YouTube users who were interviewed. Based on the interviews, they subscribed to the channels that the interviewees followed and watched videos from these channels to reproduce a similar viewing history in order to create a similar recommendation bubble. TheirTube brings up recommendations from each Youtube home page every day, and you can go back and forth by date to see different results or view the history of each persona by clicking on the “Watch History” button. It was developed by Tomo Kihara, who explained he started the project after a “heated discussion with a person who thought climate change was a hoax and 9/11 was a conspiracy. Through conversations with him I was surprised to learn that he thought everyone’s YouTube feed had the same information as his own feed. When we showed each other our YouTube homepages, we were both shocked. They were radically different. And it got me thinking about the need for a tool to step outside of information bubbles,” explained Kihara.