As a nor-easter swept across many of the areas already ravaged by Hurricane Sandy,from New York down the East Coast, more than half a million customers in New Jersey alone were without power a week after the storm hit, according to CNN.
Thankfully, many A-listers have rallied troops and funds to lend a helping hand to those in need, such as Bronx-born Ralph Lauren and Philly comedian Kevin Hart. Lady Gaga donated a whopping $1 million toward relief efforts.
Not surprisingly, so have some major brands, according to Brand Channel. J.P. Morgan Chase ($5 million in total), Viacom, Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, FedEx and Capital One, to name a few, are among the brands that have stepped up to the plate to help soften the blow for the millions affected by the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
My colleague Olivia Roat recently discussed a few brand-induced ailments that have become all too commonplace nowadays, including the general distrust that stems from the unmanageable “coexistence of business and altruism.”
Enter Budweiser. The King of Beers transformed into the King of Water for many in the New York-New Jersey region. According to ABC News, 44,000 cases (1,056,000 cans) of canned water were shipped to the area thanks to a Georgia Bud plant’s willingness to halt production of its acclaimed beer in favor of water.
Instead of merely writing a check, which by all means is a fine gesture at this great time of need, Budweiser went the extra mile and utilized all of its resources to ship and supply large quantities of emergency drinking water. In addition to providing monetary support, Anheuser-Busch has donated more than 71 million cans of water in response to natural disasters over the years.
This shining example of a unique act of kindness prompted a quick bit of research of brands that are offering a similar helping hand to those in need along the East Coast.
Pepsi Co., Wal-Mart come through
In the moments following such an overwhelming storm, you’d almost expect one or two brands to go above and beyond to aid those during a much-needed time, setting aside day-to-day operations and truly going the extra mile to provide some sort of relief to those who need it.
Pepsi Co. and Wal-Mart did just that.
The two brands donated 14 truckloads of food, signature beverages such as Gatorade, cleaning supplies and games for children. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that it was the first major private donation secured by the state in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Pepsi donated nine of its beverages, including bottled Aquafina and four snacks from its Lays brand. Wal-Mart chipped in dry groceries, a slew of cleaning supplies such as Ajax soaps and Germ-X, as well as classic board games such as Candyland and Chutes and Ladders.
Seizing the PR opportunity (as shown in the photo above), these brands helped provide an overwhelming amount of food and supplies. Pepsi Co. committed to donating another 22 truckloads of similar supplies in the following week as well.
Gap makes up for Twitter faux pas
As Ragan.com pointed out back in March, Gap has strict guidelines when it comes to its social media policy. Some of the bullet points are even quite comical, including: “If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.”
Unfortunately for Gap, its strict policy and pristine image was derailed after sending out (and quickly deleting) an insensitive tweet during the hurricane. “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?,” the tweet read, according to Ragan.
Gap later explained the blunder and subsequently announced that it had donated more than $1 million in aid to the recovery efforts.
The donations included $250,000 in clothing and another $750,000 in cash to help go toward other necessities for those in the areas affected. Although Gap’s social media policy states “there’s really no such thing as delete,” it made up for its Twitter faux pas and came through with a generous donation. The clothing helped more than 1,000 families in the Staten Island area keep warm throughout a week-long barrage of inclement weather.
GM, Chevy provide vehicles for emergency cleanup
Automakers across the country have teamed up to account for several monetary donations and other forms of aid for those affected. Ford donated $50,000, Volkswagen added $500,000 more and Mercedes-Benz provided $1 million to the American Red Cross.
Chevrolet, General Motors and Nissan also got in on the act, but on a more personal level. Chevy donated 50 express cargo vans, Traverse crossover utility vehicles and Tahoe full-size SUVs to the Red Cross to assist the recovery efforts. GM supported the relief initiative with 300 minutes of its OnStar hands-free cellular calling and three months of its turn-by-turn navigation service as well.
Meanwhile, Nissan has offered employee pricing and financing to replace vehicles damaged by the Hurricane. Thousands of vehicles were destroyed by the hurricane. Toyota, Nissan, Chrysler and Honda dealers scrapped more than 15,000 brand new vehicles thanks to the storm.
People are in dire need of transportation following the Hurricane, and the donations are a huge step in helping those affected get back on their feet again, move their belongings and simply get from point-A to point-B.
Emergency crews run on Dunkin’
According to the Associated Press, the American Red Cross had raised $117 million in donations and pledges, while the Salvation Army chipped in $5 million, the largest since Katrina. Just days after the storm, the Red Cross said it had allotted more than 5,000 workers and 320 response vehicles for the communities along the East Coast that Hurricane Sandy inflicted havoc on.
Throngs of volunteers flocked the streets to help their neighbors sift through the wreckage and clean up the mess left by the storm. To provide a much-needed boost to emergency crews and all of those affected by the storm, Dunkin’ Brands dispensed trucks throughout the region to serve free coffee and hot chocolate to relief workers and residents in the area.
Duracell keeps NYC area charged
Despite lack of power in the area for the majority of folks slammed the hardest following Hurricane Sandy, Duracell batteries made sure people weren’t totally without power, with serving stations in New York’s Battery Park and much of the New York metropolitan area.
The charging station offered free services such as Wi-Fi, phone and computer chargers and, of course, batteries. The power stations even had TVs, which allowed folks to take a slight reprieve from the recovery efforts and watch NFL football this past Sunday.
Duracell’s Facebook page has received an overwhelmingly positive response. The brand even kick-started the hashtag #PowerForward for those following and sharing on Twitter and Instagram. This is more than a brand seeking some type of notoriety. Duracell stepped up big and supplied its product when people undoubtedly needed it most.
Hanes comforts those in need
When you think of Hanes, you typically think of warm, soft, cozy apparel, whether it be underwear or fleece attire. Hanes has recently provided clothing for those affected by the natural disasters in Haiti and Japan.
Once again, Hanes has collaborated with Fashion Delivers, a New York-based nonprofit, to help distribute $1 million worth (or three tractor-trailer loads) of Hanes and Champion fleece sweatshirts and sweatpants and men’s and women’s underwear to Hurricane Sandy relief. Like Gap, Hanes chose to assist those in need with their product, much-needed clothing.
All of the aforementioned acts of kindness are inspiring to say the least. While the brands above are all admirable illustrations of how businesses and people alike can come together to help those in need, there are sure to be more worth highlighting.
What other brands deserve high marks for their benevolence in wake of Hurricane Sandy? Post your favorite examples in the comments below!