The Best Brand Responses to COVID-19

Not since the second world war has the entire planet been so focused on a singular event. Stories about economic impact, charts of the curve… it’s all consuming and can feel exhausting. 

But in the midst of the anxiety and very real impact, there are also stories of inspiration – people doing what they can to make the best of a challenging time. And some brands are also putting their best foot forward to support their communities. Here are some best-in-class examples of how brands are stepping up.

Ford shifts focus

Many car manufacturers are supporting the race to get more ventilators and PPE into hospitals, including Ford, General Motors and Toyota. Ford is a brand that has a history of stepping up during times of crisis – from building incubators for premature infants, to iron lungs, to tanks and airplanes during WWII, Ford has always taken a leadership position when times got tough. The automaker stopped running ads to promote new sales and instead began promoting their payment deferral program for customers who have been victim to COVID-related job loss. Ford’s website currently looks more like a not-for-profit organization than a car company. “Built to Lend a Hand” is the current tagline featured at the landing page. Scrolling down, you can request Personal Protective Equipment, access activities for children, or head to their FordFund page, where their extensive relief efforts are outlined with opportunities to give or receive. 

Mattel helps kids get through isolation

Mattel’s offering to help people cope is equally on-brand. The Mattel Playroom is a site for parents and kids to source numerous activities to keep little ones busy during months of shelter-in-place orders. The site was clearly quickly put together, so it’s not perhaps the most extraordinary design. But it’s simple and chock-full of stories, podcasts, games, printable downloads, music, puzzles and crafts. It’s all free and there is an endless number of games and activities as well as curated content. While they might not be directly saving lives, Mattel might just be saving the sanity of more than a few parents trying to balance working from home with young children.

Screenshot of Mattel website
Source: Mattel

Filling the Gap

For many children, being sent home from school meant they would not be participating in lunch and breakfast programs that kept them from going hungry. Many foodservice brands stepped up to help fill this gap – KFC, Vita Coco and Billie have all donated substantial cash contributions to charitable organizations dedicated to keeping people fed. 

Some brands are donating huge amounts of money, such as MAC, whose Viva Glam organization is donating $10 million dollars to various organizations that support the most vulnerable populations against the pandemic. Ralph Lauren and Lowe’s are also contributing multi-million dollar donations to the cause. 

Many, many brands are stepping up in various ways such as donating portions of sales, donating goods and services and redeploying staff to support community initiatives while still on the payroll. Doing whatever you can is not simply good marketing – it’s being a good citizen and neighbour. 

Cheers to brands going above and beyond – keep up the good work!