April 14, 2020

Who is stepping up?


Who is stepping up?

No one loves good news stories more than the Mi9 team and amidst these times it’s always amazing to see brands and companies step up and extend their core propositions into new categories to further help in this cause. The crisis has given rise to some innovative and creative problem solving from local and international brands alike. From global companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Pernod Ricard, and local legends Good George Brewing who are helping to fight the hand sanitizer shortage, to companies such as Allbirds who have provided footwear, to fashion icon brands helping to produce surgical masks for the medical fraternity, companies are demonstrating their true values.

When one thinks of Pernod-Ricard you instinctively think of brands such as Absolut Vodka, Jameson, Glenlivet, Perrier-Jouët Champagne, amongst others. You’re certainly not thinking hand sanitizers. But this is what the company is now becoming known for. We spoke to the Vice President, Corporate Communications at The Absolut Company, Paula Eriksson on what inspired the company to take this route.

Paula Eriksson, Vice President, Corporate Communications at The Absolut Company

Says Eriksson, “We did our own hand sanitizer for internal use already during the swine flu. When the Coronavirus came, we decided to do the same. We could not see any point in us buying something on the market that so many people need, if we could do it ourselves. When we learned from family and neighbours how big the need was for hand sanitizers and disinfectants in the public health care, we decided to change our ways of working and find out how we could help on a societal level. We are currently producing ethanol non-profit on a large scale and supply producers of hand sanitizers and disinfectants - so they in turn can supply Swedish public health care”

Melissa Hanesworth the Vice President of the North America Manufacturing initially came up with the idea that Pernod Ricard should make hand sanitizers. She understood that the company was well positioned with its dozens of distilleries across the world, to meet the urgent supply on this critical product which was in exceptionally high demand. When her regional boss Ann Mukherjee approved the brainstorm idea, it took less than 24 hours for the company to obtain government approvals and by the end of a week the first batch of hand sanitizers were coming off the production lines.

Not to be left behind Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser also stepped in against the hand sanitiser fight. By repurposing their facilities and supply chain they are able to make and distribute hand sanitizers.

As the front-line medical staff face increasing dangers on a daily basis, former All White and Wellington Phoenix midfielder and founder of Allbirds Tim Brown, has also stepped up to make donations to the medical fraternity in the fight against Covid-19. Allbirds, which are notoriously known as the most comfortable shoes on the planet, and made with responsibly sourced, premium natural materials, like ZQ Merino wool, eucalyptus tree, and sugarcane have now started supplying shoes to medical staff. Brown has plans to extend the initiative to New Zealand, as the nation remains in lockdown.

The fashion industry has also put its best foot forward in helping to fight against COVID-19, by making a commitment to supply protective items for medical staff. From Zara, Prada, LVMH, and H&M these fashion companies have pledged their production facilities to help facilitate the production of masks which continue to be in short supply.

Mi9 also spoke to Fiona Kerr, Group Business Director – Shopper at Stanley St Auckland, New Zealand, to get her thoughts on what’s happening in the retail space. In her most recent article “Retail steps up during COVID-19 crisis – global and local examples”, Kerr speaks eloquently about how the Retail sector has stepped up during a time of uncertainty and chaos.

Fiona Kerr, Group Business Director – Shopper at Stanley St

Says Kerr, "I love the industry I work in. Retail is in my soul. I love the pace, the haphazard structure and processes, the constant change; But probably more accurately, I love that retail brings people together. The retail industry is often criticised for capitalising on certain misfortunes so I’d like to highlight some amazing things that retailers and brands are doing in response to this unprecedented global crisis."

She goes on to state in her article that humanity will be changed by this crisis, in terms of how we behave, purchasing behaviour and how individuals view the world. You can follow Fiona Kerr on LinkedIn with more amazing insights and trends.

And finally, on a completely different and slightly offbeat note, senior leaders of LinkedIn have also stepped forward to spread some cheer. Rather than posting comments or content around COVID-19, Mike Romoff, the Vice President, Global Agency and Channel Sales at LinkedIn, New York has taken to posting a song a day on his LinkedIn page. Unorthodox for sure, but definitely heart-warming. Mi9 reached out to Romoff for a personal interview on what prompted him to do so.

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