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  • Quynh Nguyen

Cause Marketing for Brands in the Time of COVID-19

Note: for more detailed tips, insights, and guidelines to structure an end-to-end crisis response, check out the COVID-19 Response Plan for Brands and Businesses.


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Consumer confidence has dramatically dropped due the COVID-19 pandemic, and brands are now launching Recovery and Adaptation programs to help mitigate lost revenue while accounting for their audience's more health-conscious mindset.


One strategy being taken by big brands? Cause marketing.



Major Brands are Supplying Goods, Services, and Cash to the Cause


Apple recently doubled their initial pledge of 10 million masks by stating that they will design, manufacture, and distribute 20 million face masks to help medical front line workers.


Google is aiming to help those stuck at home by distributing wifi hotspots around the state of California to provide students with reliable internet access for online classes. They’re also providing chromebooks to students in need.


Zoom Video Communications famously saw their stock skyrocket 101% from January 31. As part of their Crisis Response, the brand has lifted the 40 minute meeting limit for K-12 schools in multiple states to ensure students are able to attend their classes during this time. Zoom has also provided extensive training recordings and webinars to help educational professionals easily transition to online teaching.


KFC donated $400,000 to Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit organization that provides meals to children who might otherwise go hungry during this pandemic. Many children rely on the federal free and reduced meal programs at their schools, so this donation will help reduce the already stressed parents during this time of uncertainty.


Aviation Gin. Ryan Reynolds, actor and owner of Aviation Gin, posted on Twitter pledging to donate 30% of proceeds for every bottle of Aviation ordered online until May 1st as a “tip” to bartenders.


Eight Oaks Farm Distillery switched to producing hand sanitizers when prices for alcohol-based disinfectants skyrocketed and disappeared off the shelves. Their first production of 20 bottles were given to charitable groups that needed hand sanitizers. Since then, many other local distilleries and big brand names such as Anheuser-Busch, Jameson and Absolut Vodka have followed suit.


Media Companies are Spreading Awareness


Ad Council, along with Google, the 4A’s and many other advertising, media and marketing associations have banded together in an industry-wide movement that promotes Americans to ‘#StayHome if you can.’The campaign is building off of MTV’s #AloneTogether social distancing campaign and brands can participate by updating their logos across social media channels to include a "roof" icon.



Instagram also added a new “Stay Home” sticker on their app to encourage flattening the curve. The “Stay Home” sticker allows users from all over the world to share stay-at-home content, compiled into a single Story at the top of the feed.


The Bottom Line?


There is a change in consumer mindset, which is expected to carry over once the immediate threat of the coronavirus is gone. As Seth Godin puts it, consumers expect brands to be leaders in these times:


“Changes in the culture as we know it are not crises, they are chronic conditions. And chronic conditions demand chronic solutions.”


In other words, the COVID-19 crisis is shifting how consumers think, and what audiences expect from brands. Even after the crisis ends, consumers will expect Cause Marketing to remain a central pillar of Brand Marketing, in general.


Now it’s your turn!

As inspiring as these brands are, every brand can make an impact. Whether it’s donating to your local hospitals or supporting local restaurants, every business is being impacted and could use a helping hand. Find how your business could best contribute and adapt to this pandemic.


Here is a great resource for supporting small businesses, non-profits, and at-risk members of the community.

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