From Harvey to Irma, hurricanes have been a heightened topic of discussion as of late. Hurricane Harvey recently barreled through Texas causing some of the worst natural disaster-related destruction since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As this blog is being written, residents of Florida are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irma, which was dubbed the most powerful hurricane in history, causing one of the largest mass evacuations to date. In the face of such forces beyond our control, all that mankind can do is help one another to hopefully make a terrible situation a little less so. Harnessing the power of their nationally-known brands, some companies have used their resources to benefit hurricane victims—proving that the power behind brand trust and recognition in the business world is not always about consumerism. Here, we give a hats off to these brands helping during Hurricane Harvey—and who will likely do the same as Irma’s destruction unfolds.
The short-term accommodation rental service Airbnb has a disaster response program called “Urgent Accommodations,” which the company activated after Harvey left thousands in need of shelter. Using Urgent Accommodations, anyone in need can visit Airbnb.com or access the app to find a place to stay free of charge. People who have rooms to offer can also place a listing on the site for the sake of hurricane evacuees.
The beer-producing giant distributed 410,000 cans of drinking water to those left in flood-stricken areas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Though some news stories suggested that the company halted beer production to produce cans of water instead, this is actually not the case. Anheuser-Busch halts the production of beer at various points throughout the year to make canned water to store in the event that it is needed by the Red Cross following natural disasters. It is something the company has been doing for years—in fact, Anheuser-Busch says it has provided more than 76 million cans of drinking water to help disaster victims since it started the initiative back in the ‘80s.
In addition to collecting donations via iTunes, Apple handed out “specially equipped” iPads to U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crews who were working on search and rescue efforts. Apple also pledged a direct $2 million to the Red Cross and matched employee donations 2-to-1.
Greek yogurt maker Chobani shipped 300,000 packages of its signature product to food banks and shelters in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. To add a personal touch, employees at both of Chobani’s plants signed banners sent along with yogurt shipments and also participated in an in-house collection of non-perishable goods.
In addition to donating $25,000 worth of personal hygiene products, CVS Caremark said it would provide one-time emergency refills for plan members in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and set up mobile pharmacies into devastated areas.
Delta, Southwest and United
Major airlines offered incentives for customers to aid in Hurricane Harvey relief as well as provided air travel resources. Specifically, United offered bonus miles in exchange for Harvey donations, while Southwest gave 500 customers stranded in the Houston Hobby Airport free flights out of the disaster zone. Delta partnered with the American Red Cross to garner donations, sent a relief flight with supplies and helped evacuate more stranded hurricane victims.
Duracell representatives handed out free batteries to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The battery brand’s disaster relief program is called PowerForward, and it has been helping communities recover from natural disasters since the program was created in 2011.
The Atlanta-based home improvement brand activated its Disaster Response Command Center to support coastal communities after Hurricane Harvey and has kept it in place to aid victims of Hurricane Irma. At the center, Home Depot’s merchandising, operations and supply chain teams have been working together to move useful supplies to hurricane-stricken areas.
The cereal brand sent more than a million servings of products like Rice Krispies, Corn Pops, Pop Tarts, Nutri-Grain bars, Cheez-Its and other consumables with long shelf lives to the Houston Food Bank. Kellogg’s charitable fund also donated $100,000 toward disaster relief efforts.
On top of a monetary donation of $1 million, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation dedicated the distribution of resources like the brand’s Aquafina purified drinking water to affected areas.
T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T
These major cell phone carriers said they would not charge people in the area affected by Hurricane Harvey temporarily. Brands like T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T were offering things like free unlimited data, texting and calling for hurricane victims for specified periods of time.
The big box leader sent nearly 3,000 truckloads of emergency supplies to Texas to aid in Hurricane Harvey destruction. Walmart also committed up to $20 million to support relief efforts, including $10 million in cash and product to match customer donations two to one.
From known national brands to locally-owned businesses, the list goes on and on regarding brands helping during Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. While monetary donations are certainly critical, we give a nod to some of the creative ways that the brands mentioned above are using their influence to help out in the face of destruction.
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