Brands stepping up to show solidarity during COVID-19

  • Published: 26 March 2020,
  • The Say Team

The brands that are stepping up to show solidarity during COVID-19 will be those that are remembered long after pandemic passes.

The great Albert Einstein is credited for the proverb ‘adversity introduces a man to himself’, meaning that you can only truly discover who you really are and what you are made of when faced with a challenge. Until three months ago, the word coronavirus was foreign to the majority of us, yet now the global pandemic – arguably the biggest challenge of our generation – is understandably all anyone can both think and talk about. Its ramifications and challenges are felt on both an immediate and global scale, as we see freedom temporarily curtailed, deaths increase, hero medical staff become increasingly desperate, businesses face uncertainty, and schools and nurseries close.

It is easy to paint a gloomy picture of our uncertain and chaotic ‘new normal’, yet out of adversity comes both opportunity and solidarity. A number of brands within the health and lifestyle space are recognising this and are using it as an opportunity to alter the dynamic of the conversation; communicating a glimmer of positivity amongst an overwhelming backdrop of uncertainty and negativity.

Within the Health team at SAY, we want to celebrate the inspirational brands who are stepping up to show both consumers and frontline staff that they are doing more than their bit and who have become part of the solution. We want to give credit to the health brands who are going above and beyond to aid the fight against the coronavirus or who have temporarily provided light relief to keep the spirits up. Here are our top examples of inspirational brands from this week who we believe should be given credit for making a difference:

Pret A Manger

First up is Pret A Manger, the first coffee chain to commit to giving NHS workers free hot drinks and 50% off food as a way of ‘rewarding and supporting the health and care workers doing an incredible job in difficult and unprecedented times’. Rewarding and showing appreciation is arguably in the lifeblood of Pret, who have made the headlines for their existing ‘free coffee’ perk for selected customers – and often for the wrong reasons –  yet it was this relatively small gesture in support of NHS workers that bought widespread goodwill and paved the path for many other coffee chains – Café Nero, Greggs, Costa Coffee – to follow suit.


With handwashing and sanitising cited as the number one way to reduce the spread of the virus, it’s fair to say that hands are being washed far more frequently. This – combined with the cold weather – has resulted in hands becoming increasingly dry, cracked and painful. For NHS workers, this is exacerbated even further which is exactly why French inspired skincare and toiletries brand L’Occitane should be commended for their initiative. The brand announced they are giving a free 30ml tube of hand cream to NHS workers, as well as sending products to hospitals across the country to soothe “hard working hands.” The company announced the news on its Instagram account, writing: “Dear NHS workers. We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support”, generating positive endorsement online, as well as favourable media coverage.


When news broke that Brewdog’s independent distillery planned to swap the production of their distinctive range of IPA to hand sanitiser, it was initially met with a mixed response as some mistakenly thought that Brewdog planned to charge for the product. As soon as Brewdog co-founder James Watt made clear that the product would be ‘given away to those that need it’ – local charities and communities – sentiment changed and the deed was recognised in the good faith as it was intended. As well as becoming part of the solution to the hand sanitiser shortage in a practical sense, Brewdog capitalised on an opportunity to raise brand awareness through terming the product “Punk” hand sanitiser.

Dolce & Gabbana / Humanitas University

It’s not often that the fashion world collides with the medical world, yet on the rare occasion that it does, great things can be achieved. Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana deserve credit for donating an unquantifiable sum to Humanitas University in support of a study aiming to clarify the responses of the immune system to Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The aim of the study is to ‘lay the basis for developing diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, contributing to the solution of a global problem’.

We would love to hear your thoughts on other brands who deserve kudos for using their corporate power for good during times of adversity, so please share their details in the comments below.

Alternatively, if you are a charitable organisation doing great work to make a difference but need some help shouting about it, then please do get in touch to hear more about our pro bono programme:

By Daniela B. 

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