Brand Moves for Monday October 5

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In early March we began reporting daily on how brands were dealing with Covid-19. But it’s become clear that the current climate is one of near-perpetual disruption, so we decided to keep on telling the stories of inspiring brand leadership and strategy amid the latest crises in an anxious world. Our goal is to provide an up-to-the-minute source of information, inspiration and insight on brand moves as they happen.

Most UK office workers do not intend to spend five days a week in the workplace once the Covid-19 crisis is over, with both bosses and employees seeing home working as a long-term trend. The pandemic has changed working patterns for good, a survey from the British Council for Offices (BCO) has found. Employees at all levels, from executives to trainees, intend or hope to divide their time in future between their homes and their workplaces, according to a survey of 2,000 office workers conducted in September. Sixty-two percent of senior executives and 58% of entry-level workers want to alternate, according to the BCO, which has around 3,500 members including large office occupiers, architects, engineers and big property firms including Land Securities and British Land. Before the UK government’s recent U-turn on encouraging workers to return to their desks, 46% of workers told the BCO they planned to divide their time between home and the office over the next six months. Only 30% said they were considering returning to the office for five days a week, and 15% that were intending to work exclusively at home. “We are never going to go back how things were before,” said the BCO’s chief executive, Richard Kauntze. “The idea that people will return to the five-day week in the office has gone, and I think a much more blended approach is likely, two or three days in the office and two-three at home or wherever is going to be a much more typical pattern. Most people will value being able to work on that basis.”

Bottled water brand S. Pellegrino is tackling restaurant customers’ disinclination to travel with its new “Destination Dining” series, which will see famed New York and L.A. restaurants swap signature dishes with one another. The idea, according to the company, is for “the dishes [to] travel while the diners stay safely in their home city.” “Experiencing new cuisines is such an integral part of why we travel,” said Filippo Mazzaia, senior market development manager for S.Pellegrino. “But with trips still on hold, people are craving those unique dining and cultural experiences. With ‘Destination Dining,’ we’re able to give food lovers a culinary escape while also lending support to independent restaurants during these challenging times.” Starting Oct. 15, special dishes will be available at notable New York and Los Angeles eateries for a week at a time. There’s a charitable element to the program as well, supporting the organization Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, which provides restaurant workers in New York with assistance.

Coca-Cola is slimming down its roster of product offerings in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to discontinue its Zico coconut water brand by the end of the year “comes at a time when we are hyper focused on delivering on our consumers’ wants and needs,” a Coke spokeswoman said. The company is winnowing down its brands to ones that can achieve a large scale, she said. Products now under review include Diet Coke Feisty Cherry; Coke Life, a lower-calorie version of the cola sweetened with stevia; and regional American soda brands such as Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch. The beverage company has 500 fully or partially owned brands around the world and last month said it is aiming to cut that number by more than half. The effort is part of a broader restructuring spurred by the coronavirus crisis that includes layoffs and a revamped marketing strategy.

Outdoor heaters, pivotal equipment as bars and restaurants try to extend al fresco dining, are in short supply. A rush of orders and shipping delays from China have driven up prices and created backlogs that could run into next year. The shortage of heat lamps, which can run from about $150 to as much as $1,500 each, is the latest headache for an industry that is teetering on the brink of collapse. Outdoor tables have been full in recent weeks, helping restaurants limp along as customers enjoy the pleasant weather and relish the chance to socialize after months of lockdown. But pushing outdoor dining deeper into the year is a climate-defying Hail Mary for businesses with no good options as long as the pandemic keeps a lid on indoor restaurant capacity. New York restaurants have complained that the new regulations extending outdoor dining came too late, making it impossible to find heat lamps after they were gobbled up by restaurants in other cities and homeowners looking to extend the backyard grilling season. California-based AEI Corp., which manufactures and distributes heaters, saw orders increase fivefold in August. In Santa Barbara, Think Green Supplies has been raising prices on the few heat lamps it has left in anticipation of a spike in orders from New York City, one of its primary markets. The company scrambled to find a new source in China after its regular suppliers said they were back ordered until 2021. It recently paid $160,000 to fly 4,500 lamps to the U.S., expediting a shipping process that can take 40 days.

Nextdoor is bringing its annual Treat Map back with some new features to reflect the impact of Covid-19 on Halloween 2020. The neighborhood social network said a recent nationwide poll it conducted found that 73% of respondents are looking for alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating with the pandemic in mind. Nextdoor users can share lower-risk festivities they are partaking in – such as haunted décor, pumpkin projects and costume wave parades – via Treat Map, and their neighbors can then explore the feature to see how people in the area are celebrating and plan their activities accordingly. The platform also teamed up with Party City on an augmented reality experience where families can use their smartphone cameras and go to Treat Map to bring Halloween-themed virtual visitors to life in their homes. When people find the virtual visitors, they can snap a photo and share their discoveries to their Nextdoor feed, as well as locate Party City stores near them.

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