10 brands making a positive difference to a world in crisis

Brand purpose has become increasingly important, never more so than now in the face of COVID-19. We look at how brands are rising to the community and societal challenge

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Brand purpose and community awareness has been becoming increasingly important over recent years. And with the rise of the COVID-19 crisis, it's never been more important than now

Most brands now know having a powerful voice is a responsibility, not just a privilege. And it's one that builds customer and employee loyalty. Deloitte last year found purpose-oriented companies have higher productivity and growth rates, along with a more satisfied workforce who stay longer with them. The research shows such companies report 30 per cent higher levels of innovation and 40 per cent higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors.

Deloitte also found more than 80 per cent of consumers would be willing to pay more if a brand raised its prices to be more environmentally and socially responsible or to pay higher wages to its employees. Out of these respondents, 15 per cent said they would be willing to pay over 25 per cent more for a brand’s items.

With the world awash with terrible news right now, CMO is highlighting efforts being made by a selection of brands in the current COVID-19 crisis to support customers and businesses through unprecedented disruption.


Trip.com Group, an online travel services provider, is kicking off a global initiative for the donation of one million surgical masks to support the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

Credit: Trip.com

Led by the company's co-founder and chairman of the board, James Liang, the initiative has seen the delivery and allocation of surgical mask supplies to various countries, including Italy, Korea, Japan, the US, Canada, Germany, Serbia, France, UK, and Australia.

Liang says the company hopes that the donation will play a role in bringing countries together in a collective effort to contain the virus. 

"It is crucial at this moment in the global fight against the epidemic all countries come together and support each other, to secure a victory for humanity," he said.

The move to donate masks is the latest in a series of actions taken by the online travel services provider to minimise impact, and beat the epidemic.

In late January, the company responded to the initial outbreak in China by extending cancellation provisions for customers affected by travel bans and medical conditions. The company also led a Safeguard Cancellation Guarantee industry initiative, which brought together hotels and airlines to ensure that its 400 million users worldwide have peace of mind in booking with Trip.com Group platforms.


Coles will donate extra food and groceries to the retail value of $1 million a week to help Australians who are facing hardship as a result of the Coronavirus. 

Credit: Dreamstime

The food donations will be directed to food relief organisations, Foodbank and SecondBite, which will in turn distribute the food to up to 3800 community food programs across Australia. 

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the decision to increase Coles’ food donations was in response to increasing demand for food relief from vulnerable Australians. 

“For many years, we have donated surplus edible food from our supermarkets and distribution centres but sadly we are hearing that an increasing number of people in our community are facing particularly tough times as a flow-on effect of the Coronavirus,” he said. 

“We hope that by donating an additional $1 million in food each week to SecondBite and Foodbank, we can help get food and essentials to people who are especially vulnerable at this unprecedented time.” 

SecondBite CEO, Jim Mullan, welcomed the additional food donations. “A key issue for us at the moment is keeping up with the growing demand. Coles currently donates surplus food from around 780 supermarkets and these additional donations from its distribution centres will help us to reach an increasing number of people in need,” he said. 

The Big Four Banks

Australia's big four banks - Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and National Australia Bank - have all debuted significant relief package for COVID-19 impacted small businesses.

Banks will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months. Banks are also promising to fast-track the approval process to ensure small businesses get the support they need as soon as possible.

The assistance packages will apply to more than $100 billion of existing small business loans and put up to $8 billion back into the hands of small businesses. 


Zoho Corporation, a global company offering a suite of business software applications, launched its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) to help Zoho customers worldwide weather the global crisis. 

For up to 20,000 qualified paying customers with 25 employees or less, Zoho is waiving the cost of every application they currently use, for up to three months. 

“Businesses are hurting. They already face tremendous pressure on revenue and cash flows. Not knowing when things will get back to normal is even worse," Zoho co-founder and CEO, Sridhar Vembu, said.

“Every bit of help we, and other companies, can offer to keep these small businesses afloat will go a long way, not just financially but emotionally as well. We are in this together, and contributions from every business help our community get through this pandemic.

“Certain industries have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we strongly encourage our customers in these industries to please apply for this Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program. 

“While we want to provide relief for as many small business customers as possible, we will prioritize those who are most in need and hope that others who are adapting to market conditions will help us by allowing program availability to those struggling to stay afloat.”


DoorDash has introduced a number of measures to help people enjoy their favourite food safely, help local restaurants gain access to more customers, and provide assistance to Dashers (drivers).

Credit: DoorDash

All delivery fees have been waived. DoorDash is removing delivery fees on orders from restaurant partners to offer more selection to customers and help restaurants generate higher sales.

DoorDash is waiving commission fees on all pickup orders placed through its platform. This is another way for restaurants to serve customers who are on foot or wanting to spend less time in a restaurant. DoorDash is also offering new restaurants the opportunity to sign up with DoorDash for free and pay zero commissions for 30 days.

Deliveries are moving to no-contact by default, and DoorDash is providing financial assistance to Dashers who are sick. It is also in the process of shipping more than 1 million sets of free hand sanitiser to Dashers in all markets it operates.

“At DoorDash we’re actively working to ensure the safety of customers and Dashers while supporting the local businesses who are at the centre of the communities we serve. In the face of uncertainty, restaurants are having to adjust how they operate which is why we have introduced initiatives to promote the health and safety of our users while supporting these businesses. DoorDash is proud to help local Australian business serve our shared communities through this most challenging time, ” general manager of DoorDash Australia, Thomas Stephens, asid.


Appian has created a free COVID-19 Response Management application for enterprises and government agencies. The application can be fully configured and adopted within two hours.

Credit: Appian

The app establishes a central command centre to safeguard the health and safety of employees. It tracks health status, location, travel history and any COVID-19 incident details. 

Employers can see the health and work status of all employees, by geography and department. The application runs in Appian’s HIPAA-certified Cloud. The app also enables organisations to offer community support to their employees. 

“At Appian, we believe workplaces are more than simply jobs, they are communities, and they should rally together in challenging times. For our own internal use, we have created and automated a “COVID-19 Help Department” to connect employee volunteers with employees who need assistance. Appian has scores of volunteers rallied to help employees in need — delivering groceries, offering a ride, helping at home, or making virtual social connections. In the application we announce today, we bring the same functionality to any organisation that wishes to deploy it,” a spokesperson said.

Organisations implementing the application are given access to Appian’s COVID-19 Application Desk for assistance. 

Telcos dish up data

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Amaysim are all offering customers additional mobile data to stay connected during this challenging and uncertain time. 

Amaysim customers, for example, on a $10 mobile plan will receive 10GB of additional data, $20 mobile plan customers will receive 20GB of additional data, and $30 mobile plan customers will receive 30GB of additional data. The additional mobile data will take effect immediately, for use until 15 April 2020. All Amaysim customers receive unlimited talk and text in Australia as standard, and as of 18 March 2020, customers on $40 and above mobile plans receive unlimited mobile data for use until 15 April 2020. 

Likewise, Telstra is offering postpaid mobile customers up to an additional 25GB of data, while prepaid customers with an active $40 or more recharge in place get 10GB. Optus Postpaid mobile customers can also get a one-off add-on of 20GB of data during April 2020 and prepaid customers that recharge with $40 or more during April will receive 10GB of extra data. Vodafone is also offering 5GB extra to postpaid customers and 3GB extra to pre-paid users not on its unlimited data plans. Vodafone also extended unlimited standard national calls to all Vodafone postpaid customers and active prepaid customers.

With the strain on the NBN expected to increase over the coming weeks, and months, additional mobile data has the potential to free up bandwidth during peak periods.   


Vonage is releasing several new solutions for organisations that need to operate in remote environments during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Vonage is aiming to reduce barriers for schools, businesses and telehealth providers who need access to technology solutions that enable critical teams to work from anywhere. This includes access of up to 250 mobile-only licenses free for up to 90 days, a standalone video conferencing solution for anyone to use free of charge for up to 90 days.

Vonage is also offering healthcare providers, educational organisations and non-profit customers that need a more permanent solution the first 90 days of VBC service for free with Virtual Workplace Offer.

Another offering is a new Instant Alert SMS service to distribute real-time updates on the COVID-19 pandemic from government agencies which Vonage will open source and share worldwide, including agencies such as the CDC in the United States, the NHS in the UK, and the WHO. The Vonage API Platform enables the company to open-source this SMS alert capability, Vonage Instant Alert Service, worldwide. This will be free to download and use for health care service providers, communities and government agencies to support COVID-19 pandemic efforts worldwide.


Pradeo is offering its mobile security services for free. The publisher of mobile security solutions is committed to going beyond borders and opens the use of its solutions to all companies around the world who request them.

Pradeo said it wished to fully support companies and help them in the prevention of risks linked to mobility. Its services for protecting mobile devices and applications will therefore be made available for free until 1 June 2020 for any new licence. 

"In these challenging times, it is important to reschedule priorities. We want to take our role in the collective support movement and want to facilitate the securing of mobile devices, the cornerstone of remote working,” president and CEO of Pradeo, Clément Saad, said.

“Our action aims to assist all companies in securing their mobile usages and thus prevent them from managing possible cyber-attacks in addition to the current crisis. As the virus has no borders, our proposal is aimed at any organisation worldwide. We sincerely wish all companies good luck in this exceptional situation." 

Toys ‘R’ Us

Toys”R”Us is giving grandparents the option for free shipping on their toy purchases in the wake of COVID-19 social distancing measures, which will see grandparents unable to visit their grandchildren for special events, such as birthdays and Easter. 

Under the initiative, grandparents simply select the ‘free shipping’ button during check-out when they buy online. A minimum order of $50 will apply. In Australia, more than one third of toy purchasers are grandparents, followed by mums. 

“We believe that the connection between children, parents and grandparents is extremely important, and Toys”R”Us is starting this initiative to help grandparents stay safe and enable them to send toys to their grandchildren free of cost,” Toys”R”Us CEO, Louis Mittoni, said.

“It provides grandparents with a completely safe method for sending birthday gifts to grandchildren or to simply send toys, puzzles, games or other indoor toys to their grandchildren during this challenging time.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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