Brand-side reactions to the coronavirus crisis in Asia | Marketing


Campaign Asia-Pacific has been tracking brand responses to the coronavirus crisis on this page since February. From aid to advice, this is a compilation of what brands are doing and what CMOs are saying to help employees, customers and the public. This is by no means a fully comprehensive or exhaustive list. Brands and marketers who are responding to the crisis can contact our editors with feedback or tweeting to us @CampaignAsia.


Nestlé to pay suspended worker salaries for 3 months, partners with Red Cross

Global packaged food giant Nestlé has agreed to pay in full all hourly and salaried staff affected by temporary stoppages for a minimum of twelve weeks. In a statement the company said it is offering free meals and transport for staff where needed to help reduce the risk they fall ill and will provide cash loans or advances for those in financial distress.

Nestle ice cream factory 

In addition Nestlé announced it is joining forces with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in response to its emergency appeal. Initially, Nestlé will assist the IFRC in four ways:

  • Donating food, medical nutrition products and bottled water to bring relief to those most affected by the pandemic.
  • Deploying available logistics capacities from our out-of-home business to support the needs of the IFRC in various countries.
  • Donating CHF 10 million for immediate deployment in countries where it is most needed.
  • Matching 1:1 any donations to the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies or Federation made by employees.

“Now is the time to demonstrate the values of the Nestlé family,” said Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere, drawing on our extensive presence and experience in 187 countries. In addition, we give our full support to those who are fighting tirelessly against the spread of the virus, every day.”


Two major carmakers change their logos

Audi and Volkswagen have temporarily changed their logos to promote social distancing. Audi separated its iconic overlapping four rings while Volkswagen placed the ‘V’ away from the ‘W’ in its logo.

In a video message, Volkswagen said “we traditionally stand together in all crises and support each other and that “together we will find new ways and solutions that will enable us to overcome this crisis”.

Separately, Volkswagen is among a host of other carmakers that are joining heads to explore 3D printing to produce hospital ventilators. According to a report, governments are enlisting the help of major car manufacturers to speed up production of hospital equipment in the fight against COVID-19.


SPH management takes pay cuts as company donates to Courage Fund

Directors and senior management at Singapore Press Holdings are taking pay cuts in a show of solidarity with the nation amid the COVID-19 outbreak. SPH board members will take a voluntary 10% reduction in directors’ fees while SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung will take a pay cut of 10%. Other senior management staff will see a salary reduction of 5%. The cuts will be effective from April 2020 and will be reviewed at the end of the year.

“The global pandemic has affected our businesses and posed challenges to our stakeholders. We have volunteered the pay cuts to better position ourselves to ride out this difficult time with our stakeholders. This is on top of the assistance measures we have rolled out to our employees affected by the crisis, said Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH. “We will continue to practise prudence for business sustainability and look out for the right opportunities at the appropriate time for long term competitiveness.”

At the same time, SPH Foundation will be donating $100,000 to The Courage Fund to help families and individuals affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, SPH REIT has committed to pass on fully the property tax rebate granted by the Singapore Government to tenants adversely impacted by COVID-19. It also says it will continue to provide further rental rebates.


Yum! Brands latest COVID-19 response phase: low-contact customer options and support for employees & franchisees

The parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell has provided an update on the next phase of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the following: 

1. Supporting impacted employees: Yum! Brands is launching a global medical relief fund to provide financial support for restaurant employees at company and franchise-owned stores who are diagnosed with or who are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Yum! says it’s also actively working with its franchise partners to encourage a similar approach to U.S. company-owned restaurants, where the Company will pay employees who are required to stay at home, or who work at a restaurant that is closed, for their scheduled or regularly scheduled hours during their time away from work. 

Medical workers in China get KFC meal (February 2019)

2. Keeping restaurants open safely with low-contact options: Following local government and public health guidance, Yum! says it has further strengthened its already stringent hygiene, cleaning and sanitation procedures. It has also shifted to low-contact options for customers around the world that includes delivery, drive-thru or curbside pick-up, where available.

Pizza Hut is now offering contactless delivery in the U.S. and 48 countries internationally, where customers can request online or through Pizza Hut’s mobile app to have their pizza left at the door upon delivery.

Contactless delivery in China

3. Help for franchisees & communities: Yum! has set up a global franchise health and COVID-19 support team to help KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other franchisees navigate business continuity. Yum! says it’s working with global franchisees who need access to more capital and are in good standing to provide assistance, including grace periods for certain near-term payments where necessary. 

Globally, the Yum! Foundation is also providing financial support to more than 20 food banks.

“Working together, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 while offering convenient, affordable food in a low contact environment,” said David Gibbs, CEO Yum! Brands. “But our employees – like millions of others – are worried and our franchisees are under stress. We need to support them so they can be there for our customers. As the situation changes rapidly, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill will keep finding ways to help.”


BBC donates advertising space to global health bodies 

BBC Global News, the BBC’s international news, sport and features division, is freeing up as much as 20% of its advertising inventory for use by international health and government organisations wanting to promote public-health messages around Covid-19.

Organisations and health ministries have been told that they can contact the BBC’s commercial ad team via email for opportunities to have their ads carried for free on BBC World News and BBC.com, both of which are operated by BBC Global News.

Last week (16-22 March), a record 60 million people used BBC online services – a 50% increase on the weekly average. Of that figure, more than 80% were specifically consuming coronavirus coverage.

In 2019, an average of 121 million people used the BBC World News channel and BBC.com each week.

Jim Egan, BBC Global News chief executive, said: “Our job is to report on the developing crisis around the world in a period when people need news they can genuinely trust. But if we can support public-health agencies in doing their job in these unprecedented times, I feel we have a responsibility to help.”


Prudential offers free COVID-19 protection for up to 300,000 Hong Kong residents

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prudential Hong Kong is providing free COVID-19 protection for Hong Kong residents. From now until 24 April 2020 (subject to a quota of 300,000, on a first-come-first-served basis), all Hong Kong identity card holders aged 18 or above and residing in Hong Kong can get this coverage, but they need to download Prudential’s Pulse app and register their profiles.

The coverage includes:


Gojek CEOs and senior managers to donate 25% of salaries to drivers and other partners

Gojek’s co-CEOs announced the creation of a fund to support drivers, merchants and other partners whose income has been adversely affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands of drivers and merchants are seeing a drop in their income as people follow the advice of health officials and choose to work from home and limit their movement. The support fund is being introduced to ensure they can continue to support their families while they wait for the current situation to abate.

The Gojek Partner Support Fund
will be administered through a newly created foundation, the Anak
Bangsa Bisa Foundation. The foundation intends
to work with multiple stakeholders including government, civil society groups and driver groups to determine the best way to administer the support fund, with the priority of supplementing drivers’ and other partners’ income through this period of uncertainty.

Funding will come from three sources:

  • Gojek co-CEOs along with Gojek’s senior management team, will donate 25% of their annual salary over the next 12 months
  • Gojek’s annual salary increase budget will be redirected to the support fund, and
  • A process will be set up through which donations can be made by others, particularly corporate partners.

“At Gojek, the pandemic has prompted us to work from home, forced us to conduct business differently, and disrupted our regular working rhythm,” co-CEOs Andre Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi said in a joint statement. “But our problems pale in comparison to the hardships the coronavirus is likely to place on our driver partners, whose livelihoods depend on an economy that is experiencing a significant slowdown.”

The fund will support drivers who are the lifeblood of Gojek’s business and a vital part of how cities will cope under reduced movement, the co-CEOs said. 


Kopiko keeps the coffee (and water) flowing in the Philippines

Even heroes need caffeine, and coffee brand Kopiko has been working to provide it to Filipinos working on the ‘front lines’ in the battle against COVID-19. The brand has provided products to cover six hospitals, 1,500 health workers, and 25,000 military personnel during the first week of the community quarantine in Metro Manila.

As soon as the government announced the Enhanced Community Quarantine on March 16, Kopiko worked with Frontline Feeders PH, a group mobilising food distribution, to dispatch Le Minerale bottled water and Kopiko Iced ready-to-drink coffee. The brand also partnered with the Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed) Foundation for the donation of coffee and bottled water to 25,000 police and military personnel.

Kopiko also implemented work-from-home arrangements except for a skeletal force in place to oversee stocks and make sure deliveries continue, and took steps to make sure employees are well-compensated to tide them over the quarantine period. It disbursed full company benefits to employees including safety kits, health allowances, quarantine assistance, medical insurance, 13th month salaries, and early release of performance bonuses. IN addition the company paid pro-rated 13th month salaries to contractors.


Diageo pledges 2 million litres of alcohol for sanitiser

Diageo has promised to help deliver more than 8 million bottles of sanitiser for frontline healthcare workers in the UK, Ireland, Italy, the USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.

The company will donate up to 2 million litres of grain neutral spirit (GNS), a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in the production of vodka and gin, to hand sanitiser producers in the named countries to help overcome shortages. The donation will enable the production of more than 8 million 250 ml bottles of hand sanitiser, according to the brand.

In India, the company will provide 500,000 litres of alcohol to the sanitiser industry across 25 states, for use in national healthcare systems and for consumers.

In Australia, Diageo’s Bundaberg Distilling will produce 100,000 litres of ethanol for the Queensland government, to be forwarded to hand sanitiser manufacturers.


AIA Singapore and Ogilvy work on special protection and reassurance for customers

AIA Singapore and Ogilvy have worked together on several initiatives in response to the current COVID-19 situation. This includes the introduction of special coverage by AIA with additional protection and reassurance to Singaporeans against COVID-19. The insurer is offering free COVID-19 coverage for 1.4 million customers and employees. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TooEQK6MeSg

AIA has put out a video on YouTube and Facebook (above) from AIA Singapore’s Medical Director, Dr Alan Ong with key tips on staying safe and what to watch out for to guard against COVID-19 at this time.


SPH REIT rolls out tenants’ assistance, new incentives to help Singapore retailers

SPH REIT, which manages a portfolio of retail real estate, is rolling out a scheme to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on its Singapore tenants. The tailored relief plans for each tenant will be in addition to the 15% property tax rebate announced in Singapore Budget 2020, which SPH REIT is passing on to qualifying tenants.

SPH REIT also says it will launch other initiatives to encourage shoppers to visit its malls next month, including complimentary parking along with preferential rates and waivers for use of atriums or common areas to drive footfall and sales.

SPH REIT, with guidance from authorities have stepped up precautionary measures to guard against the spread of COVID-19, including intensifying the cleaning and disinfecting of its malls, especially at high human traffic contact points such as toilets, lifts, refuse bins and hand rails.


Carousell encourages Singaporeans not to hoard, but #Choose to Give

Singapore-based online classified Carousell is attempting to rally the local community in response to some of the chaotic panic-buying and hoarding of goods during the coronavirus crisis. Carousell’s #ChooseToGive initiative urges its users to give freely instead of hoarding by highlighting the stories of Singaporeans who have gone the extra mile, including Jena Lim, a single mom who pioneered free giving on Carousell. See video below.  


FedEx completes eighth supply shipment to China 

FedEx has provided updated figures on how it has donated use of its global transportation network and logistics resources to deliver urgently needed medical supplies to China.


Up to February 20, FedEx says it has delivered eight shipments consisting of 197 pallets of humanitarian aid to China including 557,560 N95 masks, 232,450 surgical masks, and more than 460,000 medical supplies. The aid materials, it says, have reached hospitals and local governments  via Hubei Charity Federation, Chinese Red Cross Foundation and Chongqing Charity Federation.


Air New Zealand cuts flights to Seoul, follows Qantas in cutting flights cutting profit outlook

Air New Zealand today became the latest airline to provide guidance around the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, predicting a NZD$35 million to $75 million (USD$22 million to $47 million) hit to earnings.  The airline will use a midpoint estimate of NZD$55 million in its forecasting ahead of 2020 interim results coming this Thursday. 

The carrier also announced it is temporarily suspending its services to Seoul from March 7th until the end of June in addition to previously announced cuts to Asia routes, predominantly Shanghai and Hong Kong. From February to June, it’s total Asia capacity will be cut by 17%. 

The update followed a similar update from Australian airline Qantas last week, which said it’s capacity to Asia was cut by 16% with flights to Shanghai suspended and flights to Singapore and Hong Kong reduced.  Jetstar was cutting capacity to Asia by 14%. Qantas said COVID-19 is expected to impact earnings by up to AUD$150 million (US$100 million).


Mediacorp celebrities see “The Light,” break out in song to lift morale

To fight the malaise and lift spirits in combatting COVID-19, Mediacorp has helped produce a special song called “The Light” to rally Singaporeans and cheer on frontline heroes. Written by Mediacorp’s singing reality show (SPOP) champion Jarrell Huang and artist JJ Neo along with other celebrities, the song will be available across all Mediacorp platforms including YouTube, Facebook and meLISTEN. 

Huang and Neo put the melody and lyrics together in just three days. “The current COVID-19 situation inspired me to create a song that can offer positivity to Singaporeans,” Huang said in a release. 

“The idea for the song came about when I was personally feeling unsettled and overwhelmed by the current COVID-19 situation,” added Neo. “However, coming together with the team to complete the song took away so much anxiety, proving that mutual support and care can take us through any situation.” 


Coca-Cola says COVID-19 will slow Q1 earnings, committed to China market

Coca-Cola company updated investors over the weekend, saying first-quarter earnings could drop by 1 or 2 cents per share due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Unit volume could drop 2% to 3% and organic revenue may slip 1% to 2%. But Coke still expects to meet its full-year targets and says it still sees “great opportunities” in China, it’s third largest market, where it will continue to invest long-term.

“The company’s deepest sympathies go out to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company is carefully following all government guidelines and taking precautionary steps to do what it can to prevent the further spread of the virus. The company is also donating to organizations that are working diligently to support patients and contain the virus.

The safety and health of the company’s associates remains a high priority. The company has implemented precautionary measures to protect employees in China, which includes providing face masks and hand sanitizers; installing temperature screening in offices and manufacturing facilities; and setting up health monitoring mechanisms across the Coca-Cola system in China.”


Avo Insurance launches coronavirus protection, free for hospital staff in Hong Kong

Virtual insurance provider has launched a new Coronavirus Disease Protection plan in Hong Kong to protect “from any unforeseen circumstances associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.” To show gratitude to healthcare professionals, it’s offering the protection free to eligible hospital staff in Hong Kong with a 45 day coverage period. The protection will also be added-in complimentary to holders of other certain policies.

“In light of the current situation, we believe that every little bit counts and we are responsible to do our part in contributing back to the healthcare community,” Winnie Wong, CEO of of Avo Insurance said in a release. 

Avo says it is also adapting its offerings to fit the current circumstances, like changing its flexibility on travel protection allowing policyholders to rearrange travel schedules and offering an eWallet protection for stay-at-home online shoppers against identity theft and unauthorized transactions.


OYO hotel chain sets up funds in China and SEA 

With a qualified medical doctor as its CEO for Southeast Asia, Japan and the Middle East and the hospitality industry reeling, OYO is stepping up its contribution to fight the COVID-19 crisis. After creating a dedicated fund of RMB 1 million (US$715K) in China to support infected employees and their family members, the hotel chain announced a further US$200K fund to assist partners and families affected across Southeast Asia. 

Dr Mandar Vaidya, OYO CEO for Southeast Asia, Japan and the Middle East

The CEO and other members of the OYO leadership team for Southeast Asia have also pledged to donate a portion of their salaries for February 2020 to the fund. The hotel chain will also distribute masks, disinfectants, sanitisers etc. to all its guests at all its properties across Southeast Asia to combat the further spread of the pandemic.

In a note to partners in Southeast Asia, Vaidya said, “OYO is deeply concerned at the spread of Covid-19 and the impact it has on people and businesses in Southeast Asia. The hospitality industry has been impacted and we are also concerned with the impact COVID-19 has on our partners as they come to grips with the current situation. Our responsibility as #TeamOYOSEA compels us to come out in full support of everyone connected to OYO as we navigate through this difficult phase.”


Badge-in to support Singapore health care workers 

This initiative is not exactly brand-side but nonetheless fits with other COVID-19 anti-stigma initiatives in this roundup. 72andSunny didn’t wait for a client partner before showing its own agency-brand support for healthcare workers in Singapore. In a pro bono campaign, it designed and produced icons with surgical masks shaped like hearts with messages like ‘Majulah Medics’, ‘Nurses are the Nicest’ and ‘Tok Kong Doctors’.  These take the form of pin badges and stickers – both physical and digital.

The physical badges and stickers are available while supplies last at local business partner locations:

  • Lucha Loco (15 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089598)
  • Kilo Kitchen ( 97 Duxton Rd, Singapore 089541)
  • nana & bird (1M Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641)
  • Plain Vanilla Bakery (134 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068600)

The virtual stickers and gifs can be found @majulahmedics/ #majulahmedics on Facebook and Instagram.


Skechers donates cash and supplies

Outdoor wear brand Skechers China has announced it’s donating RMB 5 million (US$714 million) in cash to the China Charity Federation towards COVID-19 prevention and relief.  Over the weekend, it sent a shipment of 10,000 units (shoes and warm down jackets) worth another RMB 5 million to  the Command Center for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control in the Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone to distribute to 7,700 workers across local hospitals. 

Skechers shipment of goods headed for Wuhan

Skechers says the donation was made possible by its own ‘anti-epidemic’ committee, in charge of coordinating both employee safety and COVID-19 releated aid and charity. More than 2,5000 Skechers staff have voluntarily donated RMB 2.23 million, including RMB 1 million from Willie Tan, CEO of Skechers China. 


Western Union launches fundraising campaign

Western Union launced a global fundraising campaign to support coronavirus relief in China and other regions as the virus continues to spread. The company is pledging to match donations from the public, Western Union customers and employees up to $500,000, for a combined $1 million. These funds will go toward frontline medical treatment and the purchase of supplies and equipment.

Western Union, headquartered in the US, will promote the campaign globally with paid and organic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn postings to drive awareness of the fundraiser as well as compassion for those with the virus.

Digital ads simply state, “Behind Every Mask, There’s a Heart.” The public can donate via the Western Union app, starting March 1 through April 14. Two beneficiaries of the campaign are Give2Asia and International Medical Corps. Western Union is pledging to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to direct aid.



Prudential video counters COVID-19 discrimination, asks Singaporeans to #DOgood

Prudential Singapore has teamed up with VaynerMedia to launch a new video in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The short film aims to counter some of the negative news surrounding the outbreak including the spreading of false rumours and discrimination against health care workers, by highlighting real acts of sacrifice and kindness during the outbreak. 

One scene shows a man anonymously donating masks at a police station in Anhui, China.  Another shows family urging support for those in Wuhan to ‘stay strong’.  In Singapore, scenes of hoarding food and supplies are countered by classified ads offering free masks and other goods. 

VaynerMedia says the ad has no commercial intent but is solely meant to spread Prudential’s message of doing good.  It adds that like other companies (see Great Eastern below) Prudential will also assist ComChest by driving donations to The Courage Fund to help those affected by COVID-19. 


Gojek launches GoHeroes

Gojek Singapore has launched a new initiative called GoHeroes in light of COVID-19. It’s an initiative to support frontline healthcare workers and medical professionals with help from their driver-partners too.

Gojek is partnering with all the public acute hospitals in Singapore to provide Gojek ride vouchers worth $10 each, which they can distribute to their staff over the next three months. GoJek’s driver-partners have pledged their commitment to ensure that healthcare workers can continue to travel to and from their workplaces safely.

On a related note, Gojek says its driver-partners can receive an income support of up to $20 daily, a one-for-one matching of the government’s contribution, which can hopefully provide some relief to private-hire drivers affected by the situation.

Gojek also pointed to measures included in its driver benefits programme GoalBetter:

Should drivers be served a quarantine order (QO) related to COVID-19, our driver-partners can continue to enjoy Prolonged Medical Leave insurance coverage of up to about $1,000 for a 14-day quarantine period, or more if they are quarantined for more than 14 days. Driver-partners on GoFleet (our vehicle rental programme) will also have their vehicle rental waived should they be served a QO. In addition, we will also provide a one-off $100 allowance to support driver-partners.

In addition, Gojek has pointed out the measures being taken with guidance from authorities to maintain the safety and well-being of our driver-partners and commuters. These included:

  • temperature monitoring and contact tracing
  • distributing surgical masks, hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes to driver-partners
  • educational outreach to driver-partners and commuters on precautions such as increasing ventilation of the car by not using the recirculation mode of the car’s air-conditioning system
  • observing good hygiene practices like regularly sanitising high-human contact points such as door handles and seats
  • washing one’s hands with soap regularly.

Chinese on-demand service brand Meituan waives commissions, urges safe biking

Reuters reports that Meituan Dianping, China’s giant on-demand service company is waiving commission fees for local businesses like restaurants, hair salons and pet stores throughout China in February, to help businesses cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

The news service had reported earlier that Meituan was among 300 prospective Chinese companies applying for bank loan relief to help mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. Meituan Dianping has also been promoting its contactless food-delivery service across China. 

As reported by TechNode, bike-sharing service Meituan Bike (formerly Mobike) is urging its riders to take precautions when using their bikes.  It’s asking riders to wear a mask and gloves to avoid contacting bikes, to keep a safe distance from others and to disinfect their bikes afterwards.

Xinhua: Meituan’s guide to contactless biking.

According to the report, Meituan Bike says it has been spraying disinfectant on all bikes, even those belonging to other bike-sharing companies. 


SPH Chinese Media Group live telecast raises S$188,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts

Singapore Press Holdings’ Chinese Media Group (CMG) has raised $188,000 from online donations and cheques in the week after the telecast of a live show on 9 February to show appreciation to medical workers and others on the frontline of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

SPH, the parent company of CMG, donated $15,000. All funds raised at the event will go to the 2019 novel coronavirus response by Singapore Red Cross to support relief efforts in China. 

Award-winning songwriter and music producer Eric Ng (with guitar), singing last night with six of his students to show appreciation to front-line medical staff and communities affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Desmond Foo

The two-hour long live show produced by CMG was held at SPH News Centre lobby on February 9th. The show recorded a viewership of more than 212,000 on CMG’s digital and social media platforms, as well as 1 million viewership on China’s video portal Pomoho.

Other than the live show, CMG also recently produced a series of videos on the COVID-19 outbreak in five different Chinese dialects — Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese and Hakka, to help the elderly in Singapore to better understand the situation. These videos are available on zaobao.sg.


Chinese smartphone makers scramble to reset product launches after MWC cancellation

The COVID-19-related cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, originally set to run from February 24 to 27, is causing Chinese smartphone makers to rework their product launches.  Many new devices were set to make their global debuts in Barcelona.

Xiaomi Mi 10

Xiaomi originally planned to launch its new Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro flagship smartphone globally in Barcelona.  While that will now change, it nonetheless went ahead with its Chinese launch last Friday. A new worldwide release date is expected to be announced soon. 

Oppo, meanwhile, is rescheduling reschedule the launch of its Find X2 smartphone until March, according to Android Authority.  The same source reports that Shenzhen-based Realme, set to hold its “first global launch event” for the X50 Pro 5G and a TV at MWC on February 24th, is going ahead with that date, but now a launch event in Madrid that will be streamed globally online. 

Realme X50 5G

Vivo, which was set to launch a new concept phone at MWC called the Apex 2020, told TechRadar that it would introduce the device “soon” but did not elaborate whether it would hold an event or launch online. 

Huawei was set to unveil an improved version of its foldable Mate X.  According to Abacus, Huawei says it plans to communicate with its customers through online and regional events.  


Great Eastern sets aside S$1million for its customers, pleges S$200K to help those affected

OCBC’s insurance subsidiary Great Eastern is contributing S$200,000 to provide financial assistance to those in Singapore affected by COVID-19 through the Courage Fund. The Fund, facilitated by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Community Chest, aims to support patients, healthcare workers and members of the community affected by serious infectious diseases. 

Great Eastern is also setting aside S$1 million to support its customers in Singapore. Effective 14 February 2020 until end-2020, Great Eastern customers and/or their immediate family members* who are hospitalised due to COVID-19, will receive a cash benefit of S$200 per day of hospitalisation up to a maximum of 60 days. In the unfortunate event that death occurs, a S$20,000 lump sum will be paid out. 

For its travel insurance customers, the company is also offering a full premium refund for those who have purchased policies from 6 February to 30 June 2020 should they decide to cancel their plans.


Alibaba announces 20 measures to help merchants cope with crisis

With many Chinese companies beginning to resume operations after the Spring Festival holiday, the new challenges due to quarantine and travel restrictions are obvious. In an open letter, Alibaba Groupand Ant Financial have said “this is the time when millions and millions of consumers need our services,” and the economic battle must continue alongside the fight against the virus. 

To back this up, Alibaba has announced 20 measures to help businesses and merchants in China under the following goals:

Reduce operational cost on our platforms

1. All Tmall merchants can have the platform service fees for the first half of 2020 waived.
2. All merchants on Taobao and Tmall will receive a free subscription to “Wangpu,”
an essential online tool kit to revamp your online storefront.
3. Hubei-registered Tmall merchants who have been working with “Star Tmall Partner (TP)”, quality store operation services providers identified by Tmall, can receive free services for three months.
4. Cainiao will waive the warehouse rental fee for two months for new merchants who start to use Cainiao’s warehouses before March 31.
5. Koubei will waive commissions for all participating merchants until February 29, 2020. The waiver will extend to March 31, 2020 for those based in Wuhan.

Provide financial support by waiving or lowering interest rates

6. MYbank, an online bank brand under Ant Financial, will provide 12-month loans totalling RMB 10 billion to online merchants from Hubei Province registered on Taobao and Tmall. These loans are interest-free for the first three months, and rates will be lowered by 20% from the current level for the remaining nine months.
7. MYBank will also provide 12-month loans totalling RMB 10 billion to Taobao and Tmall merchants from outside Hubei, with interest rates also lowered by 20%.
8. To help ease cashflow pressures for qualified merchants on Tmall and Taobao, MYbank will issue payments to them as soon as an order has been fulfilled. The service, which typically incurs a charge, will be provided free up till March 31. Normally, merchants would only receive payment after customers confirm they’ve received the shipped items.
9. Ele.me and Koubei will earmark a special support fund totaling RMB1 billion to select nationwide chain restaurant operators.

Subsidize delivery personnel and ensure higher logistics efficiency

10. Taobao, Tmall and Cainao have co-launched a RMB1 billion fund to support the supply chain and logistics service.
11. Compensation will be provided to couriers includes extra allowance for order pickup and free insurance. Cainiao will also waive the technology service fee charged to the companies that are using the Cainiao Guoguo app.
12. For virus-prevention products delivered through Cainiao’s warehouses nationally, Cainiao will waive the warehouse rental fee in February and the pick-up cost of line-haul logistics from the merchants to Cainiao’s warehouses.
13. To minimize the impact on cross-border merchants, subsidies for first-mile and line-haul logistics as well as custom clearance will be provided.

Provide flexible job opportunities to ensure income

14. Freshippo and those in the numerous sectors, including dining, hospitality, movie theaters and department stores, have launched an employee-sharing scheme by allowing employees in those sectors to temporarily work at a Freshippo store. This schedule is expected to expand into other sectors.
15. Ele.me and Koubei have launched “Blue Ocean,” an employee-sharing scheme
that allows workers from various restaurants to temporarily work as couriers or convenience store clerks.

More tools for enterprises to accelerate their digitization

16. All offline store operators can join Taobao Livestream barrier-free and can use its operational tools free of charge.
17. Taobao University is offering multiple free online courses to help online store operators.
18. Cainiao will offer various digital solutions and proprietary services for free, including its Smart Supply Chain solution.

Remote working management for enterprises

19. Dingtalk is offering its “Work from Home” function free of charge. The function incorporates features to allow up to 302 participants to join the same video conference, and to provide a daily health check reporting system for employees, “contactless” inspection and an AI-powered “Virus Prevention” robot.
20. Alibaba Cloud has worked with Alipay to roll out seven major deals for developers, including a cash offering up to RMB500,000 to outstanding developers, free use of various cloud-computing resources, templates for mini-apps and data-visualization tools for three months.



Deliveroo offers commission relief in Hong Kong

The company announced an “effective 15-20% discount in commission fees” to restaurants to support them as the number of dine-in customers falls. In addition, the company will offer a “commission payment delay” scheme for qualifying exclusive partners, which enables select restaurants to delay paying commission for four weeks or more.

The delivery service called on other platforms in the sector to follow suit.


Activewear brands like Vans & Nike provide updates on impact

VF Corp, the company behind family activewear brands like Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Dickies provided an update on coronavirus impact in China over the weekend, noting about 60% of their retail stores in China have been temporarily closed due to coronavirus mitigation efforts. Stores remaining open have experienced significant declines in retail traffic.

Mainland China represents only 6% of VF’s revenue, adding “while it is not possible to gauge the impact to our supply chain at this point, approximately 16% of VF’s total cost of goods sold is sourced directly from mainland China.”

VF says it will provide updated figures on the business impact during the next quarterly financial update in May. 

Nike store in Hong Kong (Getty Images)

The announcement was similar to one earlier in the week from Nike, which noted approximately half of Nike-owned stores have been temporarily closed, while those remaining open “are operating with reduced hours and experiencing lower than planned retail traffic.” 

“In the short term, we expect the situation to have a material impact on our operations in Greater China,” the company said. It added, “despite this difficult situation, NIKE’s long-term opportunity to continue to serve consumers in Greater China with inspiration and innovation remains exceedingly strong. The brand promised an update in its Q3 earnings call.


Nintendo warns of production delays for Switch 

Japanese electronic game maker Nintendo has warned to expect production and shipment delays for devices such as Nintendo Switch and Joy Con that are made in China for the Japanese domestic market. 

Nintendo gaming area in Shanghai (Getty Images)

Nintendo says it will work hard to deliver the product as soon as possible, while keeping an eye on the effects of the new coronavirus infections.


ZTE and China Telecom partner on 5G technology to remotely diagnose coronavirus patients in China

Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE says it teamed up with China Telecom to form China’s first 5G remote diagnosis facility for new coronavirus pneumonia at West China Hospital involving Chengdu Public Health Clinic Center of Sichuan University.

The conference room for remote diagnosis and treatment in West China Hospital was first set up in late January after ZTE completed construction and testing. This facility “as the central node” will be able to access 27 hospitals that have accepted and treated patients.

Nike store in Hong Kong (Getty Images)

ZTE says this remote diagnosis facility will first cover Sichuan province, city, and county and “in the future, ZTE will carry out video consultation with the Wuhan front-end medical rescue team through the 5G network, so that critical patients in Wuhan can also enjoy expert diagnosis and treatment services [from] West China Hospital.”

Last week ZTE announced the cancellation of its press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona due to issues related to the coronavirus crisis.


Chinese tech and ecommerce brands step up aid

A growing number of ecommerce, media and technology companies in China have already stepped forward to support the fight against the deadly outbreak. Alibaba, JD.com, Tencent and Xiaomi are among the many early donors of medical supplies and logistics.

At the start of of the Lunar New Year holiday, online retailer JD.com (Jingdong) is reported to have pledged 1 million medical masks and 60,000 medical supplies to Wuhan, in batches. Xiaomi followed, pledging 300,000 masks with thermometers. 

Xiaomi medical supply donations bound for Wuhan (Weibo)


Alibaba has pledged 1 billion RMB in direct aid, (a Publicis Media, below, says 10 billion RMB total in donations, rebates and logistical assistance). According to Alizila, by February 3 Alibaba had delivered medical supplies, including self-purchased and donated goods, from 15 countries and regions to 18 hospitals in Hubei, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.

Publicis Media


Alibaba Group has also launched the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform, aiming to speed medical supplies directly to areas in China hard-hit by the virus. According to the Alizila blog, the platform serves as an information bridge, matching sellers of medical supplies and their products with the needs of affected hospitals and local authorities.

“Items sourced through the platform will head to hospitals based on level of urgency and priority, entering the Green Channel established by Alibaba’s logistics unit, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, with industry partners to expedite shipping, handling, customs clearance and delivery,” Alizila said.

Source: Alizila

In an open letter to suppliers around the world, Alibaba pledged that information on the sourcing platform would be accurate, transparent, promptly and efficient. “This is our pledge: No matter where your goods are, we will deliver them to frontline medical personnel in the fastest and safest ways,” Alibaba said in the letter.

Alibaba’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network is expediting the delivery of medical-aid donations to areas in China hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The battle against the virus is at a crucial stage. Our goal is to connect the global supply chain with those in need of supplies in a more expedited and efficient way. With your trust and effort, together, we will overcome this crisis.”

At the start of the lunar new year holiday, Tencent’s Charity Foundation pledged 300 million RMB for direct aid, “including the purchase of materials such as masks, disinfectants, goggles, and help for front-line medical staff.” Tencent’s WeChat instant messaging app has also launched an outpatient clinic map to help WeChat users locate the nearest clinic.


Douyin focuses on information sharing & encouragement

Douyin (TikTok), meanwhile is encouraging information sharing through its platform about the virus, both through messages of support to frontline workers and through a special page documenting the spread of the virus.


Lazada connects customers to infectious disease specialist, addresses delivery concerns

Recognising that customers were concerned with issues around receiving goods from China, on January 30, Lazada engaged Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist based in Singapore, who had fought SARS previously. Using Lazada’s in-app live-streaming technology (LazLive), over 21,000 viewers were connected to Dr Leong to raise questions pertaining to the coronavirus from the safety of their homes.

Lazada Facebook post


Some of the questions included whether there could be a potential spread of the disease for parcels that are ordered from China, to which Lazada says Dr Leong debunked some myths, stressing that all goods shipped from China are safe. But to further address the concern, Lazada says it ensures that all logistics staff undergo daily temperature checks and sanitisation before they handle packages. Lazada says its couriers also strictly adhere to hygiene protocols before and after each delivery.


P&G marketer: Let’s recognise China’s sacrifices

In a LinkedIn post, P&G fabric care’s brand-building communications lead, Dominique Touchaud, noted “the response to the coronavirus crisis by Chinese authorities has been unprecedented. Politics aside, it carries many individual sacrifices that we cannot see and which are easy to forget in our fingerpointing ways.” 


Cathay marketer connects air travellers with IATA medical specialist on wearing masks and flight safety

Careful not to make a call on travel-safety himself, Cathay Pacific CMO Ed Bell is encouraging would-be travellers to listen to IATA’s medical advisor on the safety of air travel and to understand why masks are not the answer to coronavirus protection during flights. 


 





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