‘When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge’. Tuli Kupferberg,
As coronavirus continues to hold the UK and the world in its grip, brands are having to adapt to agile and quick changes to stay afloat. 2020 is not the pattern we expected and so we must build new plans and new ideas.
Co-founder of Uncommon, Lucy Jameson, writing for Contagious demonstrated how we should consider our approach to the world we face now in three ways:
1. How can we help NOW?
2. How must our brands adapt to survive?
3. And what will the world look like when we emerge from this thing?
Some businesses are a natural fit to help in a time of crisis because the service they offer can provide immediate relief. We have talked about a number of these; Pret a Manger when they offered 50% discount to NHS on coffee. The list is growing the AA are offering free breakdown services for NHS staff and the NCP offering free car parking- the later probably being long overdue. In other areas the celebrity backed #feedNHS crowdfunding campaign involving many high street food chains; Leon, Franca Manca and Abakado to name a few are delivering free meals to those on the front line.
All FAANG companies are providing support in different ways; Google and Apple for instance are donating 13m masks collectively to healthcare workers. In Italy, Airbnb, who have a history in providing accommodation during crisis such as floods and earthquakes, have launched a pilot service to help medical professionals access free accommodation for up to 2 months. Airbnb will be covering the full costs of these stays.
Back in 2018, Starship Technologies launched robots to deliver packages and partnered with Co-op to deliver groceries to subscribing addresses. Since mid-March this year, the company have rolled out the robots into the centre of Milton Keynes to help with ‘meals on wheels’ lunch delivery. This is whilst a fledgling service should prove even more valuable during as we are facing now with coronavirus. And we would expect to see it continue to be adopted more broadly to help those in need.
When there isn’t an obvious ‘best ft’ approach for a business to take immediately, simply offering any service for society is step in the right direction. The aim of this issue is to share a view on those brands who are acting quickly but ingeniously and adapting through innovation, and why this could be beneficial for their future and the communities they are facing into. And of course there is always room for more ideas when it comes to helping.
‘I can’t wait for a year’s time… the rise in small business because all the entrepreneurs had a moment of stillness and creativity’. Podcaster and mother of two Leila Stead,
We are already seeing many examples of this. Gaining traction online, is a moving film named ‘we are a kingdom united’ produced by Northern Heart Films in collaboration with Carla Mellor. It celebrates the NHS and the unity of the UK through powerful storytelling. Working alongside The Mirror, the film was created at home, using their archive of images, to help visually portray Carla’s emotive storytelling. If you haven’t seen it, you should because it’s a beautiful example of how something so simple can be executed with such impact.
A lovely initiative that has blown Anna away this week, and one that she has been able to contribute to, is a charity nomination challenge called #RunForHeroes. The founder, who orchestrated the idea whilst out on a run, realised the opportunity to use the vehicle of exercising during our ‘one a day’ to help raise money for the NHS. Run 5k. Donate £5. Nominate 5 more runners on Instagram. With 5k taking on average 25-30 minutes, it is the perfect distance to stick to within the social distancing boundaries. Within the first 48 hours the challenge had already raised over £4,000 to support our NHS.
This simple and empowering initiative works by jumping on the cultural wave of social nomination challenges combined with a focus on the importance of exercise a key element in maintain our mental wellbeing.
Adapting ingeniously to face into the crisis for greater good
Fashion houses all over the world are refocusing their businesses and aligning with a common goal: to address the urgent need for face masks and hospital gowns. Prada, Burberry, Zara, and New balance are some of the many brands in the fight to help provide as much protection to health care workers on the front line. It shows as the Lucy Jameson article illustrated so succinctly the need to help and the need to adapt.
I had goose bumps when I took a virtual look inside the NHS Nightingale hospital at the Excel, which was built in just under 2 weeks to hold 4,000 intensive care coronavirus patients. This landmark that was set to be a gathering of thousands of runners from across the world in a few weeks’ time for the London marathon 2020 has rapidly been turned into an emergency hospital. To quote Sky News ‘the result is staggering’, and I couldn’t have described the impressive agility and transformation better myself. Craft Client St John Ambulance volunteers are and will continued to be stationed there, they are desperate for donations at this time so if you can help please do here. Special thanks to the media owners helping us with free airtime and other skills at this time as we seek to spread their message in the coming weeks.
Supermarket retailers have been under pressure to respond quickly due to stock pile panic buying, and threat of spreading the virus. Budget retailer Iceland were the first of all the supermarkets in the UK to put into place the priority shop between 8 and 9am for the most vulnerable in. communities. The idea was thought up by the Belfast Iceland store, then quickly spread across its 960 other UK stores and – ultimately – to almost every British supermarket. Next is a focus on streamlining and improving online delivery in the same way. Aldi have announced that all staff will receive a 10% bonus for their hard work during the pandemic, and they have also put in place a fast payment system to ensure suppliers are paid quicker than normal. These examples seem even more inspiring when placed alongside the brands that have just got it wrong. Having not closed their stores despite government advise, Sports Direct decided to increase the price of sports equipment in a response to the high demand for in home fitness and exercise during lockdown. A move which Mike Ashley later apologised for.
With restaurants closed across the country, Uber eats have made changes to their delivery, support systems and the app itself to payments can flow quicker through its system and to the independent food outlets who they work with. A few changes include more money off coupons, wavering upfront joining costs for new restaurants and doorstep drop delivery rather than in person. This demonstrates how small changes to back-end process and tech can have a huge positive impact on the many. ClassPass, the fitness app, is on a mission to help save the boutique fitness industry. Its new virtual class feature will enable partners to stream their classes through the app. All proceeds will go directly to the studios, with ClassPass taking none of the profits for virtual class spaces. A partner relief fund has been set up to donate to studios on the app and CP will match studio contributions up to $1m. Although this isn’t directly impacting the front line, it is an example of an industry leader adapting fast to keep the industry afloat.
One of the most impactful examples of ‘clubbing together’, comes from the social media and gaming platform Twitch, who hosted a 12 hour charity stream ‘Stream aid 2020’ to raise money for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It bought together the gaming, music and sport industries to help save lives by donating to watch the stream. When we emerge from this, Twitch and other previously often marginalised or misunderstood platforms should start to be seen as much more powerful and credible partners for delivering immersive impact and action for audience beyond gaming communities.
Meanwhile, Britain’s leading telecom providers have clubbed together for the first time ever to in a united campaign to help Britain ‘stay connected’ by educating and providing advice on how to manage a surge in home internet and mobile phone usage. A move of togetherness in this way, is another behaviour that we would envisage seeing more brands and business adopt in the future for the benefit of their growth and their customers.
Lockdown and learning
Whilst we are all at home practising social distancing, some of us suddenly have more time on our hands to pick up new hobbies, or dust of the cobwebs from some forgotten skills. We want to be productive, occupied and amongst all, have something to show for our time spent #lockedin. Contagious wrote about how social media has made us want to earn approval and recognition from friends and followers, and in a time when we are increasingly active online, this need is exaggerated. Brands can provide inspiration and tips to help achieve their desired skills, going beyond the initial product offering to their reason of why they exist.
Brush and Bubbles, the group art class, where you are taught to create a canvas painting with help from one of the inhouse artists, is now hosting live tutorials for all family members to get involved. Whilst this is a free service unlike their parties and events, it shows their commitment to bringing skills into the home.
Pinterest launched The Today Tab earlier than planned to provide daily inspiration, curated topics and trending pin, bringing to the self-isolated more ideas for ‘at home’ such as baking, freezer meals, activities with kids and DIY. Burger brands Patty&Bun and Shake Shack have found their own way of bringing their restaurant experience into the home. Patty & Bun launched a DIY lockdown kit with top butcher HG Walter offering varying ingredient options. Paired with the kit, you can access burger and cocktail tutorials, and accompanying Spotify playlists for the all-round in-home brand experience. The Do It Yourself trend is really having a moment, and it’s the perfect time for brands too think of ways that they can provide their service while educating the audience at the same time. With ‘how to cut your own hair’ trending on google, we are yet to see a hair care brand ride the wave of #pandemicbangs and help prevent some haircuts that are starting to appear on people online and in the street.
Within the ad industry, creative skills and minds stuck at home are being tapped into as the UN launched an open brief to all creatives to produce impactful visuals for lots of mini briefs to help in the fight against coronavirus. They are specifically asking those at hand to “extend your imagination, raise your ambition, and lend your support and ingenuity”. This is a rare and exciting opportunity to come up with interesting ways to engage audiences with these important and powerful messages around myth busting, social distancing, kindness and more. The UN secretary concluded “The creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis – and the magnitude of the response must match its scale”.
Across the UK many people are preparing for the arrival of a new-born, which adds huge pressure and stress on families let alone during a pandemic. Tommy’s, a service that provides accredited midwife-led pregnancy health information for parents-to-be, and funds research into the causes of pregnancy loss, has produced a midwife alexa skill to help anxious expectant parents at home. They wanted to challenge the way they delivered the advice and make that part of the solution to maternal anxiety. By delivering the advice in the form of a voice skill through an in-home assistant they are able to do just that, and provide advice right when it is most needed at home.
Build communities through entertainment and finding unique ways to connect
When cinemas first closed their doors to the public and Bond was pushed back to October, I am sure many of us were secretly thinking ‘please release them through our TVs’. Thanks to a new initiative with Sky TV, many movie releases will be brought to homes right away. A selection of movies will be available to rent through the Sky Store on the same day as their global release at cinemas, with the first being Trolls World Tour on April 6.
What if you aren’t a Sky user? Not to worry, as most of the movie releasees will be available on Amazon prime and Apple TV. The cost of streaming will be slightly more than usual digital rental of movies, and for a 48 hour period (but still a lot cheaper than a cinema visit!)
In the last edition of the newsletter we covered the ability to connect and build relationships through the virtual world and the impact it can have. Since then, we have seen more and more merging ways brands are tapping into audiences virtually. Its brilliant to see that the arts world tapping into this from dance classes from Royal Academy of Dance to theatres putting some of their old productions online, to Gareth Malone’s online national choir rehearsals ‘Great British Ham Choir’
The media world calendar at this time of year is usually filled with buzzing events to attend full of experiential brand pop ups and inspiring talks. One of these is Women’s Health Live, and this year ‘get fit done will be hosted for the first time ever virtually. From April 3rd – 5th they will play host to 3 days of workouts, Q&As & mindfulness straight to your living room. All you need to do id join the Facebook group in advance of the 3rd and you have access to the full schedule from home. That’s the weekend sorted!
With pub quizzes a mere distant memory, and a craving of the nation (or the world) to be spending time doing something useful, virtual pub quizzes are bringing generations together online. Goose quizzes have set up a platform via twitch that launches a quiz every night at 7pm and celebrating the winner the following evening.
Budweiser are also missing out on the pub life, and have set up £1m awesome gift card scheme initiative in a bid to save the UK pubs. The save pub life campaign will give pub enthusiasts (a large portion of Britain’s) the opportunity to pre-purchase drinks for when the pub trade can re-open.
Stuff we like
Brands helping to promote social distancing to connect
Grazia just being EPIC
Zoom backgrounds for brands
If you would like this sent direct to your in-box each week please subscribe via