Great Idea Or Taking Advantage? The Very Fine Line Brands Walk During COVID

There is zero doubt in my mind that there is a tremendous opportunity for brands and entrepreneurs alike right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a FEW of the many stories written about this very thing:

However, for every opportunity there is caution, or at least there should be. Each one of the above articles — and everyone like them — better have something similar to this line, culled from the Adweek piece above:

“For marketers, deciding the best way for brands to react to this crisis is tricky business.”

Right now the LAST thing ANY brand wants to be referred to as is “taking advantage of” or worse still, “capitalizing on” the current world we live in. Even the slightest perception of taking advantage of or capitalizing on will do serious, perhaps irreparable damage to a brand. And yes that goes for any brand, regardless of how much equity they have in the bank.

According to GfK’s Coronavirus Consumer Pulse research:

“Almost 75% of consumers believe some companies are in fact trying to take advantage of coronavirus while nearly 85% of consumers say their attitudes toward brands will be directly impacted by how brands act during the crisis.”

As sure as my name is Steve you can bet your house that there are people right now, who run brands, thinking to themselves or even saying aloud: “We can do anything we want. We’re XXXXXXX. You can’t hurt us.” And that cocksure attitude is what’s going to ultimately either destroy them entirely or, again, do irreparable damage.

Great Idea or Taking Advantage?

Last week, word came out that the toymaker Mattel was releasing a series of figures honoring frontline workers. The figures come in different collections:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Delivery drivers
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Little People® Community Champions

Here’s a few pics:

According the Mattel site “Beginning April 29, 2020 through May 31, 2020, when you purchase one or more of #ThankYouHeroes collection items online, the net proceeds from the sale of each item you purchase will be donated to #FirstRespondersFirst, a fund dedicated to providing essential supplies, equipment and resources for protecting frontline healthcare workers and their families.”

This all sounds great, right?

Or does it?

Is this a great idea or is it taking advantage?

Notice the use of the word “net” in Mattel’s statement. Not ALL proceeds but the net proceeds meaning they will make some money off these figures.

Does that make a difference to you?

Are you ok with Mattel making money off these figures which are only in the spotlight now because of a worldwide pandemic? In reality these folks should’ve been in the spotlight from the proverbial get-go and I would add in police and fireman as well as supermarket workers.

But that’s another story.

The point is what do you think of what Mattel is doing?

And where is the line for brands today when it comes to doing something good vs. taking advantage of?

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