Top News/F&B Headlines:
- Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament, was canceled for 2020 in the latest disruption for the sporting world by the pandemic. The tournament’s organizers said on Wednesday that restrictions on mass gatherings, travel and the strain on medical services while Britain is under lockdown made it impossible to prepare for the tournament properly without putting people at risk. It had previously been called off only during World War I and World War II.
- Fears are growing that the global downturn could be far more punishing and long lasting than initially feared — potentially enduring into next year, and even beyond — as governments intensify restrictions on business to halt the spread of the pandemic, and fear of the virus impedes consumer-led economic growth. In Washington, there was growing concern that the $2 trillion stimulus package enacted last week could be insufficient to bolster the economy as the crisis mushrooms. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as President Trump, are increasingly looking toward enacting a huge new infrastructure plan that could create thousands of jobs.
- Many states across the United States are re-examining triage plans as they prepare for what happens if the number of virus patients exceeds the available space in intensive care units. The New York Times reviewed triage strategy documents, some of which are being revised as more information emerges, from Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Washington State to see what factors they propose to use to decide which patients get potentially life-saving treatments. Almost all of the plans give priority to otherwise healthy people who are most likely to recover fully.
- Chef Boyardee sales are on the up and up. Conagra CEO told CBS “During hard times, canned goods are typically the first to go, followed by frozen foods.” He also mentioned the childhood nostalgia that comes from Chef Boyardee products.
- The coronavirus pandemic has sent U.S. farmers into a panic after it further drove down crop and livestock prices and raised concerns about labor shortages on farms. Farm trade groups are lobbying the Trump administration to give financial aid for farmers enduring price drops, as well as timely visas for seasonal workers from Mexico who will pick crops on U.S. farms this year.
April and May are critical harvesting times for many US farmers, who are on a strict planting and harvesting schedule and cannot ramp up or decrease production at will. If farmers can’t find enough workers or if their farming practices are disrupted because of the pandemic, Americans could have less or pricier food this summer. And because international farmers and their supply chains face similar problems, we could receive fewer food imports, potentially limiting supply and driving up prices. What happens over the next several months will determine whether those disruptions become more serious.
Consumer Search Behavior:
Dame Jean Macnamara saw over 5 million searches today alone, as Google’s homepage honors the birthday of the extraordinary doctor. Other top searches include the Idaho earthquake, which was the strongest one in decades to hit the area, April Fools pranks, and Chris Cuomo, who was trending yesterday as well after his COVID diagnosis.
F&B-specific top searches demonstrate trends in delivery and takeout options amid the virus outbreak and Mexican food has taken the #1 spot today.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:
- Mattel, the toy giant, debuted Mattel Playroom, a one-stop shop with activities, tips and content from brands such as American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends. Updated on a weekly basis, the site will offer DIY designer tutorials and advice on how to play with toys. Mattel also said it plans to produce face masks—in this case fashioned from Barbie and Fisher-Price fabric—for health care workers in need as the national supply continues to dwindle.
- Workwear brand Carhartt will shift its production to face masks and medical gowns—the brand plans to produce 2.5 million masks and 50,000 gowns beginning in April.
- Kroger announces its “hero bonus”. This bonus is a $2 premium above an hourly rate employee base rate of pay, to be applied to hours worked March 29 through April 18. To help employees have access to additional cash, Kroger will disburse the premium weekly. This bonus follows the company’s announcement on March 21 where it committed to provide a one-time bonus to frontline associates, which they will receive on April 3.
- Airbnb launched a global initiative to provide health care professionals, relief workers and first responders free or subsidized housing. The company hopes to help house about 100,000 workers on the front lines of the fight against the virus. Airbnb will waive all fees for stays arranged through this initiative. Hosts who provide homes will be asked to follow strict cleanliness protocols based on recommendations from medical experts.
April Fool’s Day has long been a time for brands to showcase their personalities in social content and ads, from fake products to misdirects to elaborate hoaxes. This year, however, things are very different. In the midst of the pandemic, most would assume April Fool’s Day 2020 to be canceled. It seems the majority of brands agree and have pulled back their planned festivities. Under the right circumstances, this day is an excellent opportunity for brands to humanize themselves and connect with consumers. But with everything going on, it’s not the best time to be messing with people, even with good intent.
So, does that mean this April 1, 2020 is a blackout date for campaigns? Absolutely not. If anything, this is a challenge for marketers to still leverage the holiday, but in a respectful way. The ability to quickly adapt is one of the most important skills a marketer can have, especially in the digital age when things change so quickly.
Today’s example comes from T-Mobile, who is still acknowledging that today is a day of pranks and fun but asking their audience to choose gratitude instead. In their social promotion running from now through April 7, every time someone tweets a story expressing gratitude for any kind of helper (doctor, nurse, aid worker) and uses the hashtag #GiveThanksNotPranks, T-Mobile will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Club of America COVID Relief Fund. For the entire month, they’ll be matching donations every time someone donates $5 by texting THANKS to 50555. Last month, the cellular provider gave $700,000 to Feeding America and the T-Mobile Foundation gave $100,000 to COVID-19 Response Fund hosted by the Seattle Foundation. Their cause-based approach to marketing ties in seamlessly with both social and mobile and is backed up by the company’s ongoing charitable actions.