Covidiots: Brands reacting during the coronavirus

Ammo Somal

Ammo Somal

Ammo is an engaging writer, researcher, and communicator, with a penchant for humor. Back in the UK, he worked in communications and creative for everything from insurance companies to video game festivals. Ammo’s skills as a content/multimedia coordinator have been honed through creating and managing content and planning multiple editorial ventures.

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If you read our most recent roundup, you’ll know our position on publishing our regular content at this time. We don’t want to ignore the situation, and we don’t want to profit off of it, either. I’ll let Dan Kelsall tell you the rest in this brilliant slideshow. Instead, we’d like to use our platform to highlight some people and organizations that are either helping others in need or hindering them. Let’s take a look…

Shame – Richard Branson

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It’s easy to see Sir Richard Branson as the British proto-Elon Musk; he’s eccentric, wealthy, and really wants to leave earth to explore space. He’s like Iron Man if he was powered by tea.

It’s important to note that while Mr. Branson has a net worth of 3.8 – 4.1 billion USD, he’s asking his 8,500 Virgin Atlantic employees to take eight weeks of unpaid leave during the coronavirus outbreak. As others have pointed out, assuming he paid workers (personally) £500 GBP a week, that would come out to £34 million for eight weeks. 

It took a while (damn it, Jim, I’m a writer, not a mathematician!), but I calculated it myself: If he did pay his 8,500 employees £500 a week, for eight weeks, that does indeed add up to £34 million. At this point, his net worth would roughly drop from 4.1 billion USD to approximately 4.06 billion USD. That’s around 0.9%. To put that into perspective, if you have $20, and gave 0.9% away, you’d have a little over $19.98 left. It’s less than 2 cents… What’s worse is that at the same time, he’s urging UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to sanction a 7.6 billion GBP bailout. Yikes.

Not so much Mr. Stark, more like Mr. Burns.

UPDATE: Sir Richard Branson has (after public outrage) pledged to invest £215m into his Virgin business to protect jobs.

Praise – Canadian mobile companies

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Here in Canada, we know that high-cost cell phone plans are as sure as taxes. Understandably, you can see why we’re not fond of the ‘big 3’ players in this industry. 

But yesterday, one of the major players, Rogers, announced that it would be relaxing long-distance rules, waiving roaming fees, and offering free TV channels to help communication during the COVID-19 outbreak. They also mentioned that they would not be suspending services for customers experiencing financial difficulties.

Here is a list of other Candian telephone companies that are offering similar gestures at this time.

Well done, folks. You did the right thing, this time.

Shame – hoarders

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There’s not much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. So here’s an example of hoarders being taught a lesson:

Matt and Noah Colvin (hereby referred to as the Super Purell Brothers from here on out) decided to bulk buy 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer from various stores in their local area. The brothers had planned to resell the sanitizer at a marked up price for profit. So when online retailers banned the resale of such items, they were left with 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer they couldn’t sell. It’s such a shame that sanitizer doesn’t clear consciences as well as it does 99.9% of bacteria.

They’ve since been forced to “donate” the hoard. Thanks for your wonderful “donation”, boys!

Praise – grocery stores

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While panic buyers raid toilet paper as if it’s going to be the currency of the future, many vulnerable folks get left to stare at empty shelves when leaving the safety of social distancing. Couple this with the higher COVID-19 fatality rate that elderly and immunocompromised people face, and you’ve got a lot of people being affected by selfish hoarders.

To that end, many grocery stores are holding ‘seniors-only’ hours, first thing in the morning, when stocks have been freshly replenished for vulnerable shoppers. If you ask me, they should put the hoarders behind a giant sheet of glass to watch while this goes on, so they can watch helplessly as somebody takes away their precious toilet paper, like Gollum, but if he had diarrhea.

We’ll continue to keep tabs on what key figures and brands are doing at this time.

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