Modern Marketing Brand Purpose War in Ukraine

How brands are taking action amid Ukraine crisis

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By The Drum | Editorial

March 3, 2022 | 10 min read

As war rages in Ukraine, major brands are taking action. From withdrawing from Russia to pledging support to refugees affected by the crisis, here’s a continually updated list of the measures being taken.

Ukraine

Brands support Ukraine

You can follow how advertising agencies in the region are supporting their staff here.

Burberry, Hermès, Chanel, LVMH

Luxury brands favoured by Russian oligarchs came under criticism for their silence in the initial days of Putin's invasion into Ukraine. But slowly they have been taking a stance on their operations in the country.

LVMH closed 124 stores in Russia as well as a donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross while Chanel and Hermès closed 17 and three respectively.

Burberry also closed its three stores in the country.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's

The majority of the UK's biggest grocers have started to remove Russian products from shelves.

Tesco said will no longer buy Russian products though will sell the products it currently has. Asda said it would remove all Russian products from stores and online too as well as committing a £1m donation to support Ukraine. Sainsbury’s has removed all products that are 100% sourced from Russia and changed the branding of Chicken Kievs to Chicken Kyiv.

Next

Next has online operations and a distribution center in Russia but announced it has stopped trading in the country. Its warehouse employs 160 permanent and agency staff.

Grammarly

The app that flags writing errors was founded by Ukrainian-born Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko. It has suspended its services in Russia and Belarus and will “donate all of the net revenue earned from Russia and Belarus since the war started in 2014 through 2022 to causes supporting Ukraine." This amounts to a $5m fund, its founders said.

P&G

P&G has pulled its Russian operations and launched a multi-million dollar relief fund for Ukraine. You can read more here.

Harrods and Fortnum & Mason

The luxury department stores have both stopped selling products in the country.

EA Sports

The gaming giant has removed all Russian and Belarusian national clubs from its video games, including Fifa 22 and NHL 22, saying it “stands in solidarity” with the people of Ukraine.

Visa and Mastercard

Payment firms Visa and Mastercard have severed ties with a number of Russian financial institutions. Visa said it will donate $2m for humanitarian aid, a donation matched by Mastercard.

“We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve,” Mastercard said in a statement.

Apple and Google Pay have also stopped processing payments from a number of Russian banks.

Apple

The tech giant has ended all product sales in Russia. “Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country,” Apple said in a statement. “Apple Pay and other services have been limited. RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia. And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.”

Oracle

The software giant has suspended all operations in Russia after Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov requested on Twitter that it end business relationships with Russia, Russian-based clients and partners.

Spotify

After removing all Russian state-affiliated content, including blocking RT and Sputnik, Spotify has shuttered its offices in Russia “indefinitely.”

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” Spotify said. “Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever.”

The company is matching employee donations two-to-one to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

H&M

The retailer has closed all stores in Ukraine “due to the safety of customers and colleagues” and has halted all sales in Russia.

H&M is the second-largest clothing retailer in the world and Russia is its sixth-biggest market, accounting for 4% of global sales in Q4 2021. It said it joins “all those around the world who are calling for peace.”

Ikea

Ikea has shuttered its stores in Russia and Belarus, impacting 14 stores and 15,000 workers.

“The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” the company said in a statement. "The immediate actions of Inter Ikea Group and Ingka Group have been to support the personal safety and security of Ikea co-workers and their families, and we will continue to do so.”

Asos

Asos has blocked sales in Russia saying it’s “neither practical nor right” to trade in the country.

“Immediately following the invasion, Asos suspended sales in Ukraine as it became impossible to serve customers there,” it said. “Against the backdrop of the continuing war, Asos has decided that it is neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia, and has therefore today suspended our sales there. Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and all those affected in the region.”

Airbnb

Airbnb is offering free, temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine through its nonprofit division Airbnb.org.

It will partner with resettlement agencies to house Ukrainian refugees across the world.

“We know that hosts on Airbnb and guests around the world will be eager to stand up and assist this massive effort and, in the coming days, Airbnb plans to share details on how hosts on Airbnb and the broader community can support this initiative,” it said.

BP and Shell

Shell and BP have both committed to exit all Russian operations.

BP has dropped its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft – a move estimated to cost the company $25bn – while Shell will drop its stakes in Sakhalin and Russian gas giant Gazprom.

”We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression that threatens European security,” said Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden.

Disney, Warner Bros and Sony

Disney has paused all theatrical releases in Russia. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” it said. “In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance.”

Warner Bros has also pulled its slate of films set to be released, including the highly-anticipated Batman film. “In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Sony Pictures will also pause all its theatrical releases in Russia. “Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius,” a Sony Pictures spokesperson said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and we hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

Netflix

The streaming service has refused to comply with a new Russian law that requires all streaming services with more than 100,000 daily users to carry 20 major Russian federal television channels, many of which broadcast propaganda. “Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” said a Netflix spokesperson.

O2, EE, Vodafone, Three, GiffGaff and BT

Major UK mobile telecoms providers waived charges on all calls, texts and data to and from Ukraine.

Statements from the providers warned that signals in the area have been affected by damage to local networks and equipment.

In the US, Verizon has also committed to waiving charges.

Etsy

Etsy has said it will write off all outstanding fees owed by sellers – including listing fees and transaction fees – to offset ”tremendous financial hardship” for creators affected by the conflict. Etsy estimates these fees to total $4m.

“The events unfolding in Ukraine weigh heavily on us all,” wrote Etsy chief executive Josh Silverman in a blog post. “Being part of a community means that when one part is suffering, the rest of us must step up and offer our support.

“We’ve long been committed to creating economic opportunities as well as offering assistance in times of distress or injustice. Our efforts to support Etsy sellers in Ukraine are a reflection of that commitment.”

Depositphotos

The Vista-owned company, based in Ukraine, provides stock photos, graphics and videos. It’s making a collection of images depicting the reality of what’s happening on the ground available for free in an effort to prevent the spread of misinformation. It’s actively targeting people in Russia.

“We urge you to please not close your eyes to what is going on. This bloody war is not only a threat to the freedom of Ukraine, it is a direct threat to freedom of speech, finance and movement,” VistaCreate vice-president Vadim Nekhai wrote to customers. “A threat to the identity of each of you, each citizen of Russia, who did not start this war, but will continue to do nothing.”

Modern Marketing Brand Purpose War in Ukraine

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