Is there a ‘right way’ for retailers to help in times of disaster?
In the wake of the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, retailers and brands, both local and nationwide, have jumped in to aid in the recovery.
In trying to take action in the face of disasters and tragic events, retailers and brands can find themselves walking a difficult line. On one hand, it’s important for businesses to take authentically charitable steps in such instances. High-profile charitable acts can also encourage other brands to step in and donate or act.
However, the fact that businesses are motivated by profit can make such efforts appear like cynical branding exercises if not handled properly.
Companies are taking different steps to help victims of the latest tragedy:
- Lowe’s began staging emergency supplies to ship to stores near the disaster and plans to deploy its Lowe’s Heroes volunteer program to the region, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. Lowe’s also made a $500,000 donation to the Red Cross.
- Anheuser-Busch paused beer production at some breweries to can drinking water and will be sending more than 50,000 cans of water to be distributed to victims, WGN MillerCoors has also shipped 50,000 cans of drinking water. Both breweries are supplying water in branded cans.
- H-E-B has begun an in-store donation drive kicking off with a $100,000 donation of its own to hurricane-related charities, Fox San Antonio The grocer is also sending mobile kitchens and disaster relief units to help out.
- Home Depot’s charitable foundation donated $1 million to support disaster relief in the area and moved truckloads of product to stores in the region, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
- Coca-Cola is facilitating online donations to the relief effort.
Some others reaching out as reported in AdWeek are:
- Amazon-Whole Foods – matching online donations up to $1 million;
- PepsiCo – pledging $1 million to the Red Cross;
- Chobani Yogurt – distributing Chobani products to victims;
- Duracell – sending the brand’s “PowerForward” team to give batteries to those impacted;
- Walmart – sending 795 truckloads of supplies, mainly water.
- Lowe’s gives $500,000 for Hurricane Harvey recovery – Charlotte Business Journal
- Anheuser-Busch canning water — instead of beer — for Harvey victims – WGN
- H-E-B donates $100,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, begins in-store donation drive – Fox San Antonio
- UPDATE: UPS pledges $1 million, joining Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta in Hurricane Harvey aid – Atlanta Business Chronicle
- Here’s What Brands Are Doing to Help in Texas Communities Devastated by Hurricane Harvey – AdWeek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is the appropriate reaction from retailers or brands for national disasters on the scale of something like Hurricane Harvey? Where should retailers and brands draw the line in providing aid without giving the appearance of profiting from the disaster?