Well Done: Brands Leading by Example During COVID-19

Eva Maria Schmidt
April 20, 2020

[Editor’s note: We’re pleased to share this blog post in collaboration with Selligent partner Shaw/Scott, a leading digital marketing agency that empowers brands to elevate customer experiences. Through our partnership, we build impactful client relationships through creative collaboration, leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience. Contributors: Melissa Shaw, Chris Lovejoy, Amanda Folino, Randy Kershner]

In a world that’s shifting and changing by the minute, marketers are having to map a new way forward when it comes to messaging and how they’re communicating and engaging with consumers. A lot of brands and companies are doing good things right now; but some are really standing out in this new environment. Maybe they’re striking an emotional chord; or finding a way to use humor that resonates in these times; or perhaps just simply, but effectively reminding us that we’re all in this together. We salute all marketers who are keeping the conversation going these days and continuing to adapt to a changing landscape.

At Shaw/Scott and Selligent, we’ve been particularly impressed by brands and companies that have elevated their level of corporate responsibility during the crisis, choosing to give back in some way to their communities, their customers, and/or their industries. Here are just a few encouraging examples from some brands that we think have risen to the occasion, doing great work in spite of the challenges facing us all.

GoNoodle: Looking Out for Families #TogetherAtHome

GoNoodle, a Selligent client, is a leading movement and mindfulness platform that’s focused on helping kids stay active. They create short, interactive movement videos and games to make it easy for kids to have an active lifestyle and to develop everyday healthy habits. Hundreds of thousands of schools across the U.S. and around the world use GoNoodle to keep students energized and engaged inside the classroom. A lot of parents love GoNoodle, too, to turn screen time into activities where families can have fun and get moving together.

Now, they’ve put together a free online resource for parents during this time called GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home, with content that includes movement and mindfulness videos, plus downloadable and printable activity sheets that supplement what they see on screen. In these work-from-home days, parents will appreciate that kids can do many of the suggested activities on their own, which means more time for mom and dad to concentrate on work. Their #TogetherAtHome efforts have been recognized by many national outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America.

JOANN: Helping to Support Medical Personnel

JOANN, the nation’s largest specialty retailer of fabrics and crafts – and a Shaw/Scott client – responded to the pandemic quickly by working to help fight the severe shortage of personal protective equipment. The company is donating free fabric supplies to anyone interested in sewing masks, gowns, or other essential medical equipment at home for healthcare workers. Adhering to caution and respecting stay-at-home guidelines, JOANN is offering “Ship-to-Home” and “Curbside Pickup” options, so customers don’t have to even visit the stores.

Beyond donating materials, the JOANN website offers guidelines and tutorials for making masks, following CDC recommendations. Locations that have remained open are also serving as collection points, so people sewing at home can drop items off to be distributed to medical centers.

JOANN set a goal of donating 100,000,000 masks. They’re currently more than halfway there.

OpenTable: Shifting Messaging to Support a Hurting Industry

OpenTable, the leading online restaurant-reservation service, quickly moved to provide strictly community-support messaging. Recognizing how hard the pandemic has hit restaurants, their website and emails now encourage people to help restaurants weather the storm by offering multiple ways to support local restaurants – & they’ve removed any profit from these avenues.

A recent OpenTable blog post offers readers a few ways to safely show their support for local restaurants. One way, of course, is by ordering take-out and delivery. OpenTable is now partnered with several delivery services, like Uber Eats, Postmates, and others; some of which have waived their delivery fees. They’ve gone a step further by segmenting take-out and delivery lists within their app, to make it easier for customers. OpenTable also encourages contributions to restaurant fundraisers, providing links hosted on restaurants’ profile pages within the app. Lastly, and arguably one of the most popular ways customers can safely show support, is by purchasing gift cards through the OpenTable marketplace. And OpenTable has notably waived its own gift card fees to restaurants during the crisis.

Not Impossible Labs: Leveraging Technology for Good

Not Impossible Labs is an award-winning technology incubator and content studio dedicated to “changing the world through technology and story.” Founded on the principle of “Technology for the Sake of Humanity,” the organization works with a variety of like-minded companies and collaborators, forming multi-disciplinary teams committed to tackling challenging issues to drive a better future for all.

One of Not Impossible’s programs is Hunger: Not Impossible (H:NI), a simple, text-based service that connects kids and families in need with prepaid, nutritious, to-go meals from nearby restaurants. Built to empower community organizations’ efforts to feed families with urgent needs, H:NI works with these trusted organizations to recruit participants struggling with food insecurity. H:NI also helps to support local food service establishments by helping to augment their sales and keep their team members employed.

In response to COVID-19, the H:NI initiative is expanding quickly in cities across the U.S. Now, the program has been leveraged to focus on helping to support the food service industry and food providers, as well as those in need.

Airbnb: Taking Care of Those Who Take Care of Us

Airbnb has partnered with their hosts to provide 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients — and safely distanced from their own families. Like OpenTable, Airbnb is also waiving fees; in this case, for the first 100,000 bookings for COVID-19 responders.

In addition, Airbnb has partnered with nonprofit partner organizations to allow people to help by donating to nonprofits supporting COVID-19 responders who need to stay near hospitals or stay isolated from their family.

Auto Insurance Companies: Offering Relief for Americans Tightening Their Belts

This is a three-in-one shout-out to U.S. auto insurance companies Allstate, Geico, and Liberty Mutual. Recognizing that Americans are driving less during the coronavirus pandemic, and with many people facing new or increased financial hardship resulting from the pandemic and forced closures, the companies have given policyholders millions of dollars back.

Geico is offering auto and motorcycle policyholders a 15% credit, a benefit it estimates will be worth about $2.5 billion. The company cites shelter-in-place orders that have “reduced driving significantly” as a reason for the credits. “This ongoing crisis has widespread effects that will linger,” said Geico president and CEO Todd Combs in a statement. “That is why we wanted to give this credit for at least six months.” Geico will also halt the cancellation of coverage because of non-payments.

These are just a few shining examples of brands that have pivoted quickly in response to the pandemic, choosing to do the right thing and put people before profits when it really matters. Finding the right balance and managing customer experience during a time of crisis is one of the most challenging tasks a marketer can face. Kudos to so many who are rising to the challenge and providing encouraging examples like these.