Twenty weeks 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.
A group of 83 of the world’s richest people have called on governments to permanently increase taxes on them and other members of the wealthy elite to help pay for the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The super-rich members, including Ben and Jerry’s ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Disney heir Abigail Disney, called on “our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”. In its letter, the group said “As COVID-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world. No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door. But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.” The group warned that the economic impact of coronavirus crisis will “last for decades” and could “push half a billion more people into poverty”. Among those adding their names to the letter are Sir Stephen Tindall, the founder of the Warehouse Group and New Zealand’s second richest man with a $475m (£370m) fortune; British screenwriter and director Richard Curtis; and Irish venture capitalist John O’Farrell, who made millions investing in Silicon Valley tech companies. “The problems caused by, and revealed by, Covid-19 can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous. Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly,” the letter says. “We owe a huge debt to the people working on the frontlines of this global battle. Most essential workers are grossly underpaid for the burden they carry.” The group released the letter ahead of this weekend’s G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. The letter was organised by the Patriotic Millionaires, Oxfam, Human Act, Tax Justice UK, Club of Rome, Resource Justice, and Bridging Ventures.
Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe presented its Spring/Summer 2021 menswear collection not at Paris Fashion Week, but in a box. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt daily life, Loewe and its creative director Jonathan Anderson looked to tell a story by other means, developing a storyline and providing something real that “showgoers” could still interact with, even if the collection was not being presented on a runway. Instead, Loewe offered a tactile experience with its box, starting with a letter from Anderson and following with an inspiration booklet. Inside the large linen-covered box file was a pop-up show set, a flip-book of photos of the clothes on mannequins, a paper-pattern of one of the garments, print-outs of sunglasses to try on, textile samples, a set of paper pineapple bags and looks to stick together to make your own 3D ‘models,’ and a pamphlet listing Anderson’s art history inspirations. Alongside the box was a 24-hour Anderson-curated worldwide live summer festival of arts, crafts, and conversations on Loewe’s Instagram page and website. “My whole thing is to do something in each time zone,” he said. The program rolled from Beijing time onwards, connecting with (amongst others) crafts-collaborators Kayo Ando, who showed the art of Shibori, paper artist Shin Tanaka from Japan and the basketweave artist Idoia Cuesta in Galicia, Spain, with music curated by Adam Bainbridge (aka Kindness), who showcased calming ‘medley’ versions of Finnish musician Pekka Pohjola’s Madness Subsides, performed by Park Jiha in Korea, performer and producer Starchild, French-Malagasy pianist and bandleader Mathis Picard, and American harpist Ahya Simone. Holding it all together in the digital space is turning out to mean more sharing of the glory and less behind-closed-doors mystique, Anderson said. “I think that fashion now has to get rid of all the layers and just say, ‘This is what this brand does, and we’re going to do it with conviction.’ It has to be real.”
Impossible Foods has partnered with activist-athlete Colin Kaepernick for a multi-city program that will feed residents in underserved communities. Through the former NFL quarterback’s nonprofit group, Know Your Rights Camp, the brand will hand out packages with its plant-based products to local families and serve cooked meatless burgers via on-site food trucks in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and other cities through the end of the year. Impossible, one of the major players in the faux-meat category, has pledged to donate at least 1 million meals this year, with 100,000 pounds of its products already going to food banks and more than 750,000 front-line medical workers, first responders and others since the start of the pandemic. “There’s a stigma around food insecurity that shouldn’t be there,” said Jessica Appelgren, vp of communications for Silicon Valley-based Impossible. “It’s the new normal of how a lot of people are living right now, and it’s disproportionately impacting communities of color.” The problem already existed, but the onslaught of the coronavirus has accelerated the need, she said. By the end of April, more than one in five households in the U.S. and two in five households with children under 12 were food insecure, according to the Brookings Institute. The partnership comes on the heels of a first-look development deal between Kaepernick and Disney and another high-profile TV project with director and producer Ava DuVernay. Meanwhile, Kaepernick’s group and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights have each committed $1 million for bail funds for those arrested during recent protests.
Cruise operator Carnival Corporation – which owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Holland America – has said incentives such as flexible booking and low cabin prices have led to an “encouraging” amount of bookings or rebookings for 2021. While the U.S. cruise industry has agreed to a no-sail order through September, investors are looking to signs of a healthy business next year as the broader travel industry continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic, said President and CEO Arnold Donald in a call with investors,“we expect demand to be more than adequate to fill ships in a staggered restart. We’re very encouraged by the booking numbers we see.” A statement from the company filled in more facts: “Despite substantially reduced marketing and selling spend, the company continues to see demand from new bookings for 2021. For the most recent booking period, the first three weeks in June 2020, almost 60% of 2021 bookings were new bookings. The remaining 2021 booking volumes resulted from guests applying their [credit] to specific future cruises.” Carnival had earlier announced a return to waters by Aug. 1, but that has since been moved to Sept. 30. Now, “the company expects to resume guest operations, with ongoing collaboration from both government and health authorities, in a phased manner.” Carnival’s Aida cruise line, which operates in Germany, will resume cruising in August with social distancing guidelines aboard the ship.
Backpack maker JanSport has launched a new campaign called “Lighten the Load” focused on connecting young people with the tools they need to unpack the mental health crisis. While the campaign has been in the works since January, new social issues have continued to arise that have put a further strain on Gen Z’s mental health, making it even more relevant. “Our purpose is to be a true and trusted ally to young people, no matter what they’re going through, so we really looked at this campaign through the lens of that purpose,” JanSport’s senior director of marketing, Monica Rigali, said. Every Wednesday in May – Mental Health Awareness Month – JanSport hosted a live online conversation with a mental health expert touching on topics like isolation, compassion fatigue, uncertainty and family relationships. JanSport plans to continue the campaign through July and into August with four additional live sessions. “There have been so many changes both from a media perspective and a cultural perspective that we’re looking at it week by week and adapting,” said Rigali. “We want this generation to know that we’re going to be there for them, we’re not going to be tone-deaf, and we’re going to serve up content and opportunities to speak with them in a way that’s relevant to them.”
Japan has been among the first countries in the pandemic era to restart large-scale sporting events with spectators. Five baseball games went ahead on Friday evening in five different cities across the country, taking in spectators for the first time this season, as the Japanese government pushed on with its plan to re-open the economy. From Friday, events with as many as 5,000 people are allowed. Major League Baseball teams are paying close attention to procedures that Japan and Korea are putting into place for the return of spectators. Ticket sales account for the bulk of revenues for the teams, which are racking up big losses on player salaries. Japan’s baseball season kicked off on June 19 after a three-month delay, initially without any fans watching. Baseball in Taiwan, which has reported 451 COVID-19 cases, has included fans since May and recently stopped requiring people to wear masks.
In Japan, fans attending Friday’s games were met with a slew of new rules that proved hard to adhere to: no loud yelling, no high-fives, no towel twirling and no shouting through hands cupped like a “megaphone.” Beyond the risk of gathering thousands of people together in crowds, research shows that yelling and singing are particularly dangerous because of the tiny respiratory particles emitted. League officials encouraged fans to use electronic whistles and devices to play pre-recorded cheers, instead. Masks were mandatory and entry into the stadium was barred for anyone showing cold symptoms or whose temperature was above 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit).
McDonald’s in the Netherlands has teamed up with oil company Neste and logistics firm HAVI to turn its used french fry oil into renewable diesel fuel. Launched this quarter, the circular economy partnership sees Neste convert the oil, which is then used in the HAVI trucks that deliver supplies to McDonald’s. The Neste MY Renewable Diesel emits up to 90% fewer greenhouse gases into the environment, as compared to diesel from fossil fuels. All 252 McDonald’s restaurants in the Netherlands will participate in the scheme, and Neste and HAVI are seeking to convert other restaurants’ cooking oil into renewable fuel.