Pret A Manger and McDonald’s are offering NHS (National Health Service) staff complimentary drinks alongside discounted food in the United Kingdom, and Domino’s will be giving away free medium-sized pizza to all healthcare workers with valid ID on March 20. Meanwhile, salad chain Sweetgreen started implementing dedicated Outpost operations offering free meals for hospital workers and medical personnels across the US.
In early March, the Seattle Times reported a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will offer at-home COVID-19 test kits. More recently, Amazon’s digital healthcare arm, Amazon Care, has offered the foundation its support to provide kits that can test for coronavirus symptoms, with the goal to produce and distribute thousands of tests to anxious consumers.
The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation announced on March 13 that they will be sending 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits and 1 million masks to the United States. The founder of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma joined Twitter on March 15 to broadcast the shipment being loaded onto an airplane and taking off from Shanghai airport. “Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” he says.
This unexpected and unprecedented global health crisis is rapidly reorganizing business priorities and highlighting the sincerity of brands’ CSR (corporate social responsibility) efforts. Companies in the East made quick changes to production last month as cases there peaked, and now the West is responding in similar ways. Despite economic uncertainty, the action of “doing good” is offering much-needed positivity—and perhaps such altruism will see a longer-term pay-off among ethically minded consumers.