A Welcome Diversion: How Brands Are Showing Kindness Through Crisis

Hey, who's in the mood for some good news? We're starting this week fresh with a big bucket of optimism! As marketers, we're always excited to see companies skilfully reading the room and communicating positively and effectively. Now is one of those times that’s full of opportunities for companies to do just that.

Through all that's been going on lately, many brands are dealing with how to adapt their messaging. The challenge each company faces is to check-in with their audience about information that might affect their routine, without sounding like this is just another business as usual marking blast. When done well, a company can seize the moment by putting their core values into practice and support people in need.

Your inbox in the last week can likely speak for itself with how many PR communications have been sent out, so we've starred the following ones as showing sincerity and empathy when people need it most.

Tim Hortons


Nobody is working harder right now than those on the front lines of this pandemic, namely, doctors and health workers. Knowing this, Tim Hortons has stepped up to deliver complementary coffee to hospital employees. A small gesture that speaks volumes. As Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution, they're definitely showing the kindness that our country is known for.

 Tractor Foods- Ash & Broadway (Vancouver) location


Like Tim Hortons, Tractor is supplying health workers with a free meal to help get through long and strenuous shifts. An example of a charitable initiative that will have a lasting impression long after it's passed. 

Canada Goose Company


Not satisfied with merely keeping Canadians warm with their jackets, the outerwear company has begun making scrubs and patient gowns for hospitals in need. You've likely heard about the shortage of medical supplies that healthcare professionals face every day, and this act of kindness will have lasting effects not only on the fighting of the crisis but also maintaining positive morale for those working hardest. 

National Geographic and The New York Times

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Both of these well-known publications have taken a decisive step towards giving their readers more information about the virus. With daily and sometimes hourly updates, each periodical is removing it’s paywall in order to provide readers with unrestricted access to the developing situation and what's being done. A welcome gesture when staying in the know has never been more critical.



In Guinness's 261 years of operation, they likely haven't seen a St. Patricks day quite like the one that just passed. Perhaps no company is more closely associated with the Irish day of drinking than the famous beer company. While the brand encouraged social distancing at large events and parades being cancelled, they also went beyond what was expected. Guinness not only pledged to donate €1.5 million to help the elderly citizens of Ireland, but the donation will also go to support bar workers who lost their jobs due to pubs closures. A great example of a company putting the greater good ahead of its own profits.

Odd Society Spirits (East Vancouver), Sons of Liberty Distillery (North Vancouver), Shine Distillery (Portland), and many others.


Some alcohol distilleries are giving liquid courage to their visitors in quite a different way than they're used to. Now that BC distillers are authorized to make hand sanitizer (as are those in various parts of North America), these companies are stepping up to provide people with bottles of the commodity, some even for free. With the product going to frontline workers, community non-profits, or  selling out immediately in grocery stores, these distilleries have listened to what people need and are doing their best to meet that demand.



As Vicks family of brands has been a resource for those under the weather for over 125 years, their most recent actions speak to how dedicated they are to public health. The company has donated $1 million towards Direct Relief, a humanitarian organization that will help to stock emergency supplies for medical professionals on the front lines. 

Loom and Adobe

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With kids out of school and parents feeling the crunch of childcare being suspended, teachers are trying to find ways to engage their students remotely. Both Adobe, and Loom (a video sharing service) have made their premium options available free to teachers and students. With Adobe, kids and faculty can seamlessly share assignments with a creative cloud service. Loom, on the other hand, will give some much-needed facetime to teachers with their classes, while being able to provide instant feedback.



With so many people isolated in their homes, Linkedin is doing their part to help keep people level-headed. The networking platform is now offering it's 16 online learning courses free of charge to all members. Courses like Managing Virtual Teams, and Time Management: Working From Home provide not only a welcome distraction but also give useful ways of staying productive during the current work climate.



Knowing that the living arrangements of millions of college students would be affected by the widespread quarantine, U-Haul offered some stability for them. The self-storage company is giving all students affected by the quarantine free storage for their possessions as school plans change. An invaluable resource for students in the midst of moving or needing to leave a dorm to a more isolated living space.



With shooting schedules on film and tv sets halted indefinitely, many workers within the screen trade are out of work. As these are the people that the Netflix business model depends on, the streaming company has understandably stepped up to support them. By donating $100 million to a relief fund that will help to support crew members such as drivers, electricians, and carpenters, Netflix is hoping to give financial relief to some of the 120,000 industry jobs that have recently been lost. 

London Drugs


If this were any other year, you'd likely be seeing Girl Guides out and about selling their cookies. However, for obvious reasons, the children's program is now sitting on a mass of inventory that they can't sell. Thankfully, London Drugs has stepped up to help the girls out by selling cookies for them in-store. The retailer will help sell the 800,000 boxes in inventory while giving full proceeds to the organization.



Another instance of an organization helping those that it benefits from, Bandcamp devoted a day to giving  musicians full profits from its streaming services. As artists and musicians have been hit particularly hard by events being cancelled, this has given listeners a chance to put money directly into the pockets of struggling artists. 

So, despite everything that's going on, there are still plenty of ways to help each other out! If you're a marketer, take note of how these brands are meeting people where their heads are right now. No matter the company, it's reassuring to know that there are real people behind the scenes, acting with empathy. 

Stay healthy, everybody! Just because we need to give each other space, doesn't mean we can't still connect!