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How brands are bringing communities together in a time of social distancing.

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, it may feel as if people are more isolated than ever. Companies are enacting work from home policies, some industries are essentially being forced to shut down and entire countries are being forced to stay indoors.

However, in a time of global crisis, we’ve already witnessed ways humanity is banding together – albeit at a distance – to spread positivity and support. And for brands, while it’s important to approach such a difficult time with delicacy, many are finding ways to foster community and even provide solace for their customers. Across the globe companies are shifting their business practices to help out, whether it’s FoxConn changing production lines to make surgical face masks, or Givenchy switching over from perfume to hand sanitizer. Others have made sizable donations to relief efforts, and most are adapting policies to cater to customers who are largely stuck at home.

Here are just some of the ways we’ve witnessed brands step up to provide help and prioritize community over profit in a time where the economy is in a massive financial downturn:

Allocating resources to relief funds and grant programs.

French luxury group LVMH pledged nearly $2.3 million to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to fight the virus while counterpart Kering also donated $1.1 million to the Red Cross in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Beauty brands L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have pledged $720,000 and $300,000 respectively to relief efforts.

Facebook announced a $100 million grant program to assist 30,000 small to medium sized businesses across 30 nations to help them stay afloat amongst the pandemic. 

Artizia, the Canadian women’s fashion brand, announced that all of their profits during the COVID-19 outbreak will go to the Aritzia Community™ Relief Fund to support their people and their families.

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A letter to our Community: We know you’re being overwhelmed with news about COVID-19, and we know it’s a lot right now. Here, at Aritzia, you, our loyal clients are at the heart of what we do and why we do it. We’re committed to being both responsive and responsible, navigating these times with everyone’s safety in mind. We recognize that others are dealing with far more complex and impactful challenges than where we find ourselves. Our goal is to do our part for the global well-being. HEALTH AND SAFETY As of Monday, March 16, we’ll be closing our retail locations until further notice. Based on the information we have, we feel this is the best decision for our people, our clients, our partners, and our community as a whole. In addition, we’ll be shifting all Support Office employees to flexible working arrangements. It goes without saying, we’ll take every measure to keep our environments and our people safe. These are complicated times, things are changing quickly and we’re committed to keeping you informed. ARITZIA COMMUNITY™ RELIEF FUND Aritzia is committed to providing the financial continuity of both our internal team and the employees of our overseas partners impacted by COVID-19. ALL OF ARITZIA’S PROFITS while we get through this challenging time, will go to the Aritzia Community™ Relief Fund to support our people and their families. OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU Should you need some normalcy, will continue to be there for you. We’ve significantly increased precautionary measures to ensure the well-being of our Aritzia Concierge and Distribution Centres so that you, the women who love Aritzia, can continue to enjoy Everyday Luxury. Everything we’re doing is with input from people throughout the Aritzia team. As we navigate this complex and changing landscape, we’re being challenged on a daily basis. We’re doing our best to balance what’s right for our people, our clients, our partners, and our communities. Let’s continue to take care of each other. Your Aritzia.

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Amorepacific, a South Korean beauty and cosmetics company, immediately protected its employees (over 3,500 of them) by ordering them to work from home. They also donated nearly $300K to emergency response efforts in Wuhan to bolster inventories of needed medical supplies. Additionally, one of Amorepacific’s haircare brands, RYO, organized shampoos and conditioners to support frontline health workers’ daily needs. The first shipment of donations departed the warehouse on February 27.

Shiseido announced the “Relay of Love Project” in the hope that everyone affected may return to health and safety as soon as possible. As a part of the project, Shiseido donated $1.43 million to support the procurement of necessary materials for medical treatment and infection prevention. The company also promised to donate a portion of regional sales for continuous supporting actions.

Creating mindful, community-driven campaigns.

Oakley, the sportswear manufacturer, announced that in the coming weeks they would be posting videos from their athletes on Instagram Stories and TikTok to “help everyone stay mentally and physically healthy during these tough times,” encouraging followers to do the same to foster community and overcome adversity.

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Together #ForTheLoveOfSport ❤️

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In an effort to provide much-needed entertainment and video content to a community who is spending increasing amounts of time online, Nike began posting workouts to TikTok and has amassed 346,000 followers and more than 2 million likes.

Natura & Co, a Brazilian cosmetics group, says it will increase education and training of all of its 6.5M consultants and all staff in over 3,200 stores globally, whether on-site or remote. By doing so, they hope their representatives can become advocates, educated on ways to support both local and global Health Care Authorities about proper actions, care and protocols to help fight the spreading of COVID-19, including proper sanitization.

Vistaprint is also adapting to the changes and creating a sense of community. The online printer created a hashtag to encourage small businesses to share out how they are handling the pandemic (#vistaprintideashare) and shared a “change the date” template for cancelled weddings, and other events.

Women’s clothing chain, Free People, announced that while they are closing their stores, they will continue to pay employees and are available online, in their app and on social, whether to answer questions, even if a customer is “simply looking for someone to talk to.”

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We’re all in this together. Dear Free People Community: As we continue to navigate through the unique challenges posed by COVID-19, we’d like to share an update on how Free People is responding. The safety and health of our community — customers and staff alike — continues to be our number one priority. At this time, none of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19. However, in an effort to protect our friends and families worldwide, we have decided to close all global Free People stores, effective ‪March 15th. Those employees affected by store closings shall continue to be paid. We plan to reopen our stores ‪on March 28th.‬ Because this situation is complex and evolving rapidly, please be advised that this date may change. We’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, feel free to visit us via our website and app, and to engage with us through our social channels, where we’ll continue to inform, educate and inspire you. Please know that, in spite of these current events, we remain dedicated to helping you however we can. Whether you have questions about a pending order or shipment, where to find a coveted dress, or are simply looking for someone to talk to, we are always here for you. Reach out to us here, or through Direct Message on Instagram, and we’ll be sure to take part in these and any other conversations you wish to have. As we continue to keep our collective well-being at heart, know that together we can and will make a difference. Be well, and thank you. With love, Free People

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On Twitter, Reebok asked its followers what kind of equipment they have at home so the footwear/apparel company could provide workouts to be done in the living room.

Outdoor retailer, REI, also closed all stores, vowed to continue paying employees and offered free shipping. They also put together online resources for customers and further tips on how to integrate fitness and fresh air at home.

Athletic apparel company, lululemon, sent heartfelt customer communications offering at-home yoga practices and meditations to help people feel more active, grounded and connected through this time. The company also announced that while their stores are closed, they would be paying all employees as usual and providing access to their Global Pay Relief Plan.

Using technology to keep people safe and informed.

Facebook announced a ban on ads which sought to capitalize on fears around COVID-19 and adapted the News Feed prompts to highlight relevant, accurate information on the outbreak. Additionally, they created a business resource hub for people who are impacted by the pandemic, and have given local authorities access to the Local Alerts tool, in order to help them distribute relevant updates and info among their communities.

Olapic is here for you.

Like so many of you, we have spent the last several days and weeks learning about COVID-19 and how it is impacting our world. Though we’re a SaaS business, at our core, we’re a community-driven one and strive to ensure the personal and operational health of both our employees and our client relationships. 

It’s a difficult time in uncharted waters, that’s becoming increasingly tougher to navigate, but we’re here to help with whatever you need. We’ll continue to share examples here and on our @Olapic Instagram account of ways we’re working to stay connected with each other as well as inspiration that we’re seeing from our diverse portfolio of brand communities. 

If you have any questions, or would like to chat through any marketing recommendations or suggestions at this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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