5 Food & Beverage Brands Stepping up Right Here, Right Now
With COVID-19 taking over headlines, newsfeeds and digital happy hours, it’s hard to think about anything else. But the fact is, as food marketers we’re playing an integral role in providing stability and peace of mind to millions of Americans. As a few food brands are showing us, how we choose to pivot in times like these can have a huge impact on the customers we serve.
These are just a few of the brands going above and beyond to deliver value to their customers beyond the products they sell. As you look through this list, we hope it inspires and encourages you as you take on the unique challenges ahead.
Chipotle’s Virtual Hangout Powered by Zoom
Since mid-March Chipotle has hosted virtual lunch parties to encourage its loyal fans to stay healthy by practicing social distancing. To help make this time more enjoyable while still rousing a sense of community, the burrito chain brought together up to 3,000 customers for daily celebrity-hosted lunches. Utilizing the online meeting platform Zoom, each lunch was hosted by a celebrity (including The Bachelor contestant Colton Underwood and musician Lauv) who inspired and answered questions from fans as they passed along codes for free entrees to participants.
Until the end of March (at the earliest), the chain plans to continue to add value during the pandemic by closing all in-store dining while offering free delivery online for any order over $10. And in an effort to calm concerns of deliveries being contaminated, the chain also introduced tamper resistant packaging and an in-app delivery tracker through Delivery Kitchen.
Guinness: We’ll March Again
After hearing St. Patrick’s Day celebrations would be cancelled due to the coronavirus, Guinness stepped in and produced quite possibly the most perfectly timed message for its global audience.
In a short video, the brand seamlessly weaved together its rich Irish heritage with historical images of St. Patty’s Day celebrations around the world. But what made this video hit home was the voiceover reminding viewers what it really means to be human. Aligning the brand with the spirit of community and perseverance (along with a nod to supporting your local pubs), their message of Don’t worry, we’ll march again was a welcome change of pace. At the video’s close, the brand also makes a pledge of $500,000 through its Guinness Gives Back Fund in support of those impacted in the communities where the brand lives, works and celebrates.
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Miss Chiquita is Also Sheltering in Place
With shelter-in-place orders in effect all across America (and the world), brands are stepping in to encourage people to stay inside. A few brands are even using their logos to further drive home this important message, including Chiquita Bananas. In a recent Instagram post, the banana distributor recreated its logo with Miss Chiquita sent home for the pandemic. Usually positioned directly above the brand name in its blue, yellow and white logo, Miss Chiquita’s dancing silhouette has yet to reappear on the brand’s social channels.
While we wait for our next sighting of her, check out these other brand logos that were recreated thanks to Slovenia-based Creative Director Jure Tovrljan. But it’s important to note that not all brands are getting support for pandemic-related logos as McDonald’s quickly realized.
Buffalo Wild Wings Keeping Sports Alive
With everything from the NBA to the PGA on hold, sports fans around the world are trying to find ways to still enjoy the games they love while at home. One food brand in particular understands that more than most – Buffalo Wild Wings. When March Madness was cancelled earlier this month, the brand cancelled its planned campaign but still needed a way to connect with its audience. Now instead, they’ve released a new video showcasing how Sports Live On through its most dedicated fans and players. And what better way to enjoy the game than with new delivery specials including their fan favorite BOGO deal available via mobile ordering?
BTW, if you’re a sports fan and haven’t seen Rugby announcer Nick Heath’s #LifeCommentary coverage yet. It’s definitely good for a few laughs.
Anheuser-Busch and Other Brewers Pivot to Hand Sanitizers
Reminiscent of manufacturing factories during WWII, local and national recognized distilleries such as Anheuser-Busch, Diageo and others are now joining in the fight against COVID-19. The FDA announced that certain factories will be allowed to make sanitizers as long as they follow the agency’s approved recipe. With a +313% sales spike of hand sanitizers in the past month, it’s obvious the demand is great, but for most of these distilleries this will not be a new revenue stream. With breweries and spirit companies relying heavily on their wholesalers (i.e, restaurants,) they are anxious to do what they can to combat the pandemic and will be donating supplies.
The Industry Charges Ahead into a New Tomorrow
With things changing nearly every moment, it’s tough to know what we’ll be talking about tomorrow let alone next week. But these stories, along with the countless others that aren’t on this list, demonstrate two important things I hope you walk away with.
First, food marketers are one heck of a creative force. Honestly, the creative ways our fellow brands and companies have pivoted in the past two weeks has been inspiring to say the least. As an industry, in a short span of time we’ve advanced in ways we’ve only begun to realize. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll undoubtedly see new consumer preferences in the way they buy and consume. And we’ll be tasked with finding creative ways to satisfy those needs. We can and will champion these new challenges.
And secondly, at the end of the day, the unique, beautiful individuals that come together to form our community of fans and patrons are what make us successful. Even when we go back to the “normal” day-to-day pace of life, I urge everyone to do what they can to keep these personal connections strong. Even if that means slowing down every now and again.