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.
The Anheuser-Busch brewing company is using its facilities to produce hand sanitizer, and it has sent more than 6,500 gallons of it to be used at polling places throughout Texas. The Texas Governor‘s office said it received 39 pallets of hand sanitizer from Anheuser-Busch to use at polling locations during early voting and Election Day. “As a proud Texas employer, Anheuser-Busch is committed to uniting our communities, strengthening our democracy and encouraging even greater participation in the political process,” said Anheuser-Busch Chief External Affairs Officer Cesar Vargas. “One part of this commitment is shifting our production capabilities to donate hand sanitizer so that election officials and voters throughout the state and rest of the country can take part in a safe election this fall. We like to say that ‘beer is bipartisan’ and we are proud to step up and serve our communities during this election season.”
Japan is working towards restarting international tourism in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The first stage is under way: opening borders to residents, students and business travellers. They must take a coronavirus test ahead of flying to Japan, and stay in self-isolation for 14 days. Initially tourism is likely to be restricted to visitors from low-risk countries including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. The postponed Olympic Games are due to begin on 23 July 2021.
UK free-distribution women’s magazine Stylist has been kept off the streets by COVID and the lack of commuters to pick up its print edition. But the weekly is returning to print with the help of home-delivery grocery firm Ocado. Stylist returned to the physical world with a 400,000 print run last week, half distributed by Ocado to customers that requested the title. Their bet is that, at a time when more people are having their groceries delivered than ever, partnering with an online supermarket makes perfect sense. Stylist Group CEO Ella Dolphin said that Ocado has been a “standout winner for customers at this time”. With traditional distribution at travel points restricted, Dolphin said the title needed needed an alternative that delivered scale. “I was very keen to keep that mass distribution and excitement around print rather than reducing the scale of it,” said Dolphin. Following the success of its £21.99 annual digital subscription, Stylist has also introduced its first print subscription at £4 per quarter, signaling the end of its free-distribution model.
The ice cream brand long known as Eskimo Pie will henceforth be called Edy’s Pie in a nod to its brand founder, candy-maker Joseph Edy. It’s also an effort to distance itself from what Elizabell Marquez, head of marketing at parent company Dreyer’s, said was an inappropriate term that did not reflect the brand’s values. According to a statement, the company paused production of the ice cream bar with Eskimo Pie branding three months ago. Edy’s Pie packaging is expected to debut in early 2021. Eskimo Pie comes after recent rebrands at Uncle Ben’s and Cream of Wheat. In fact, multiple brands have followed Aunt Jemima’s lead this year in announcing name and packaging changes.
Facebook has banned all pages and groups on its platform linked to radical far-right movement QAnon, in the social network’s most significant crack down on the conspiracy group to date. The latest update is designed to combat the rapid spread of QAnon messaging across Facebook, given supporters’ ability to swiftly build networks from a single message. Admin profiles who manage the pages and groups taken down for violating Facebook’s policy will also be disabled, the company confirmed. The new policy will be enforced from Wednesday but will “take time and need to continue in the coming days and weeks,” the company said. QAnon supporters believe a secret society of paedophiles run by high-profile celebrities and government officials is plotting against US President Donald Trump, who they say is leading a covert crackdown on the group. The FBI categorised QAnon as “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” in a document made public in August last year, warning that such theories have the potential to drive both groups and individual extremists to carry out “criminal or violent acts”. Facebook announced in August it would remove pages, groups and accounts on sister company Instagram when they were found to discuss violence, but the new update will now see pages, groups and associated Instagram accounts removed irrespective of whether they contain violent content.
The UK technology institute founded by inventor and manufacturer Sir James Dyson will soon have the power to award its own degrees – the first of a new wave of alternative education providers. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, which opened in 2017 on the site of Dyson’s design centre in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, has 150 engineering undergraduates who pay no tuition fees and receive a full-time wage during their four years studying and working alongside Dyson’s staff. The Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, has said the institute can award degrees in its own name from next year, the first to do so under legislation that created the route in 2017. Dyson said: “To be the first higher education institution to be granted new degree awarding powers is a testament to the hard work of undergraduates and the academic team. It has not been easy.” Dyson is estimated to have spent more than £30m on the institute and its campus, which includes study-bedroom pods, lecture theatres and labs. It claims to attract more applications from qualified school-leavers than many Oxbridge courses, with 14 applying for each place.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is pledging to use its financing weight to push clients to align with the Paris agreement and work toward global net zero-emissions by 2050. The bank said it would invest in technologies that help reduce carbon emissions and will work with clients to cut their own carbon footprints. JPMorgan’s bankers and advisers hold considerable sway in boardrooms around the globe. The bank plans to argue to clients that combating climate change opens the door to more capital from investors and reduces their risk of becoming outdated. Other banks have made various pledges to stop supporting Arctic drilling and coal companies. British banks NatWest Group PLC (the former RBS Group PLC) and Barclays PLC have both committed to using their business to further the Paris agreement, the 2015 deal that called on global governments to curb rising temperatures. Citigroup Inc. earlier this year said it would walk away from clients that aren’t taking climate change seriously.
Shoe brand Cole Haan is pairing with business comms platform Slack to launch a new limited-edition shoe collection. The “Generation Zerøgrand” shoe includes four styles that prominently display the Slack logo. The collection was created in partnership with Slack and designed entirely through communication conducted on its popular business messaging platform, Cole Haan said in a press release. The apparel brand first teased the Slack sneakers on its official Twitter page, telling its followers to “keep your notifications on” for the official launch. According to Cole Haan, the sneakers were inspired by “the pandemic-related rise of remote working” that has caused many businesses to lean heavily on programs like Zoom and Slack to facilitate virtual communication and manage workflows without being together in the office. “The partnership felt like a natural fit for the two innovation brands, particularly given that each stage of Cole Haan’s product development – including the creation of this particular collaboration – happens on Slack,” Cole Haan said.
Private-jet flights are poised to regain their 2019 levels next year as the industry rebounds from a much shallower decline than after the 2008 financial crisis, according to aerospace firm Honeywell International. The drop in takeoffs and landings will ease to only about 15% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier and will recover fully by mid-2021, Honeywell said Tuesday in an annual survey of 1,050 private-jet operators. By comparison, flights tumbled 76% in April in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, according to another data provider, Argus Internationa’s TraqPak database. “This definitely is something that shows a robust recovery in a space where we saw significant reductions in flight hours in April and May,” said Shantanu Vaish, director of strategy and industry marketing for Honeywell’s Aerospace unit, which makes jet engines and cockpit controls. The declines earlier this year mirrored the collapse of commercial airline flights as countries locked down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now private flying, which for many passengers generates less health anxiety than traveling in a plane full of strangers, has rebounded more quickly despite a severe economic downturn and continued travel restrictions.
US retailers have had a difficult time planning for Halloween in a year filled with more tricks than treats. While some regions are still under lockdowns, others, such as New York City, are opening up and then closing down certain zip codes as danger of a second wave of COVID-19 intensifies. Many in California are advising against door-to-door trick-or-treating in order to limit virus exposure. Brands are struggling to market to customers effectively with the ever-changing situation, which may include fewer costumes and more candy as consumers sit at home. But home improvement retailer Lowe’s said this week it will be offering drive-thru curbside trick-or-treating for two weekends in October at all of its stores. Consumers, who will receive candy and pumpkins at the events, need to book spots ahead of time in a reservation system. A Lowe’s spokeswoman says the company is already seeing “early excitement” from customers ahead of registration, which begins Oct. 10, for the new version of trick-or-treating, which is a first for the chain. The events “are designed with the hope of bringing communities together in a safe way this holiday,” she says, noting that Lowe’s will also sell usual merchandise such as Halloween decorations and a new Universal Studios Monsters collection. Similarly, Target will be giving out surprise treats as well this month. On select days in October, the Minneapolis-based retailer plans to give out “boo bags starter kits” to customers who use its drive-up and order pickup services, a spokesman says. Others, including Lowe’s rival Home Depot, are focusing on digital events for consumers to do at home. Home Depot is offering online do-it-yourself projects like fall kids’ crafts and scarecrow flowerpots.