Covid Social Responsibility: Social conscience in the time of Coronavirus

As the COVID-19 crisis and its societal implications usher in a wave of change, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has gone from an organisational nice-to-have to an essential business goal overnight.

Brands are transforming in the wake of the pandemic, and pivoting to offer more than just profits to their shareholders. Social impact is now at the forefront of every organisation’s thinking: How do we offer value to our communities and our healthcare workers? How can we help those worst affected? And how can we reach out our hands and help other businesses navigate rocky waters?

Below we’ve gathered together six examples of brands, start ups, CEOs and sectors who are taking CSR seriously in the ‘age of Corona,’ and making a public splash with their initiatives. Could your organisation do something similar?

Iceland: Extending hours to provide for the vulnerable

Iceland have been taking CSR seriously for almost 50 years, seeing themselves as a moral brand and encouraging their workforce to do the same. It was no surprise then when they were one of the first supermarkets to roll out early opening times for elderly customers.

At a time when people were jostling each other for every roll of toilet paper, elderly people were naturally finding shopping a stressful experience. Many Iceland stores responded by opening their doors an hour early to pensioners – allowing them first access to scarce items and a shopping experience that they could take at their pace.

Slightly changing their business model to accommodate for the vulnerable is a great example of a small strategic shift that can make a massive difference to a silent minority being affected by the chaos of COVID-19.

Brewdog & Prada: Repurposing production capabilities 

Production needs are rapidly shifting and many businesses are now finding that they have capacity to repurpose in-house capabilities and make a different kind of impact.

Brands like Brewdog and Prada have fired up their production lines to roll out hand sanitiser and face masks to be used in hospitals, alongside a host of other businesses. By repurposing a small section of their production capabilities, they’re making a massive difference to healthcare systems currently creaking under the weight of demand.

We love the way that Brewdog especially have branded their CSR offering – anonymity isn’t a prerequisite of doing the right thing, and we think it’s a great way to tastefully showcase their role making a difference during this pandemic. 

Not every business has a physical production line, but offering animation, filming, or design capabilities, for example, to organisations in need could be an option. How could your business repurpose in-house production to offer social value right now?

Subly: Offering a product for free

Large budgets and workforces aren’t a CSR necessity.

Subly are a small start up in their early stages who are currently offering their flagship product, which automatically subtitles video content, for free. Their rationale is that brands and sectors are needing to communicate their messages during this difficult time, and need all the help that they can get.

While a great initiative, this altruism doesn’t have to hurt the business model; free products could be offered as loss leaders allowing you to drive more sales from happy customers well-acquainted with your product once the pandemic has died down.

(If you’re on the other side of this example and are a brand looking to communicate effectively with your audience right now, why not get in touch with us at Raw London? We’re a creative agency transforming the way that brands and charities communicate.)

Hotel Football, Leon: Offering space and discounts to NHS workers

Anything your organisation can do to help the NHS right now will help us all.

Football pundit Gary Neville’s hotels are amongst many establishments offering tired NHS staff free bed and board closer to hospitals. 

Healthy fast food giant Leon have gone down a slightly different route, offering 50% discounts to NHS workers

If your business is in the vicinity of a hospital or has something to offer exhausted NHS staff right now, discounts or complimentary products could make a big impact.

The Entertainment Industry: Volunteering transferable skills and equipment

Many in the entertainment industry have found themselves furloughed or out of work while the venues that housed their shows remain closed.

In a beautiful gesture, many entertainment industry professionals have come together as a collective to offer their transferable skills to the NHS. While they’re used to designing sets and using theatrical tech, they’ve reasoned that they could feasibly turn their hand to creating temporary NHS facilities instead if the need is there.

If business is a little slow right now, could you give your workers time to volunteer, and signpost them to opportunities to do so?

Joe Wicks: Free PE classes for kids stuck at home

Tousle-haired health and fitness guru Joe Wicks has started to leverage his massive Instagram following to offer free PE classes for kids currently stuck at home.

As parents around the country are struggling to keep their children active and stimulated under lockdown, initiatives like Joe’s are integral in their battle against boredom.

With the country currently seeing high demand for mental health services and surveys suggesting that the pandemic is having a real effect on people’s wellbeing, it’s the perfect time to offer the public content to help them stay busy, healthy and productive.

Entertaining, educational, and lifestyle-improving content can make a genuine difference to people’s mental resilience at this time, when they need something to keep them occupied. If you’re able to alleviate public stress, why not get your marketing and production teams to give it a go? Podcasts, articles, vlogging, and video series are great avenues to get your message out there.

If you’re looking to communicate a message right now or tell the world about how you’re making a CSR contribution, get in touch with us at Raw! We’re a creative agency specialising in transforming how brands and charities communicate. Drop us a line at if you’d like to chat about how we can help you showcase the difference that you’re making.

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