From aid to advice to supportive campaigns, this is a compilation of what APAC brands are doing and what CMOs are saying to help employees, customers and the public during the coronavirus crisis. This is by no means a fully comprehensive or exhaustive list. Brands and marketers who are responding to the crisis can contact our editors with feedback or tweet to us @CampaignAsia.
Campaign Asia-Pacific has been tracking brand responses to the crisis since February. This page is an archive of that coverage from February through April. See here for the most recent additions).
Prudential launches digital health app to give Singaporeans better healthcare access amid COVID-19
Prudential Singapore has launched Pulse, a mobile app providing Singapore residents with better access to healthcare services and real-time health information. Users can check their symptoms, get a digital video consultation with a doctor at a flat fee of S$15 and have a S$100/S$200 daily allowance if hospitalised for COVID-19 (under Prudential’s S$1.5 million PRUcare package).
Launched on 23 April 2020, Pulse is available to everyone in Singapore and will be rolled out to 10 other markets under Prudential’s network across Asia. VaynerMedia has launched a campaign for Pulse featuring Michelle Chong shot on Zoom, with everything from pre- to post- production done while all stakeholders were practicing safe distancing.
Prudential says since the launch of the PRUcare package on 19 February 2020, it has paid out more than S$800,000 in cash benefits to those impacted by COVID-19. It has also commited $1.5 million to help SMEs and individuals affected by COVID-19.
Zalora launches community outreach programme across multiple SEA markets
Zalora has launched a community outreach programme in its markets across Southeast Asia to lend support to the COVID-19 relief efforts through e-donation drives in collaboratio with local non-profits.
Philippines: an e-donation drive has pledged to assist numerous organisations including the Philippine Red Cross, Caritas Manila, the Ayala Foundation, World Vision, GMA Kapuso Foundation, and Hybrid Social Solutions.Proceeds from the fundraising efforts will go to medical frontliners and underprivileged families for access to basic necessities during the enhanced community quarantine. On social media, a campaign was introduced, enabling customers to nominate their local community heroes for a special gift from Zalora
Singapore: activated an e-donation drive together with The Singapore Red Cross to raise funds for customised care packages and psychosocial support calls for senior citizens living alone, and sanitisation kits for volunteers and staff who continue to provide humanitarian services to the vulnerable. The care packages will benefit seniors across SRC’s ElderAid, Medical Chaperone / TransportAid, and Home Monitoring and Eldercare (HoME)+ services, comprised of a mixture of food, medical, hygiene and household items based on beneficiaries’ feedback. From 27 April to 3 May, Zalora will also be donating 10 masks to the Singapore Red Cross with every S$100 spent.
Malaysia: Zalora has partnered with MERCY Malaysia to raise funds in aid of the fight against COVID-19 with its e-donation drive. Proceeds will be used for supplies to medical front liners and vulnerable communities, including medical PPEs and basic necessities. In the pipeline, more organisations will be listed on the e-donation drive. Support has also been given to Malaysia’s Ministry of Health to enable app push notifications and informative prompts to customers on updates of the pandemic.
Indonesia: launched a fundraising campaign in partnership with crowdfunding platform Kitabisa.com. The donations will go towards the purchase of medical tools for hospital workers that will be distributed to 10 Covid-19 main referral hospitals across Indonesia.
Kansai Nerolac Paints sets up endowment fund
Kansai Nerolac Paints (KNPL) has set up a crowdfunded endowment fund for its community of painters in association with Indian donation platform ‘Give India’. The amount collected will be used to aid of upto Rs 7000 each to painters suffering from coronavirus. Nerolac will also make a contribution of INR 500,000 to set up the fund.
Contributions can be made on the Give India website. Last month, Kansai Nerolac disbursed funds to 30,000 of its painter community falling under the Nerolac Premium Painter Pragati (NPP Pragati) Programme.
Pizza Hut Singapore to deliver 3,000 pizzas to foreign migrant workers on Labour Day
On May 1, Pizza Hut Singapore will be delivering 3,000 personal pan pizzas to the migrant workers in Singapore who have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recently partnered with ComfortDelGro Taxi to provide additional delivery income for taxi drivers while delivering pizzas to customers during this social distancing period.
APB Foundation donates $75,000 to migrant workers
Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation today announced a $75,000 cash donation to the Migrant Workers' Assistance Fund (MWAF), the humanitarian charity arm of the Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC). The APB Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the HEINEKEN’s Singapore company – Asia Pacific Breweries, the home to Tiger Beer. The donation will be used to support migrant workers’ daily necessities and basic essentials while in isolation, provide food and accommodation for those who were unable to get home due to travel cancellations and give financial support to migrant workers who are not working due to the circuit breaker measures.
Fastrack collaborates with Bollywood actor to #StayTheFIn
Motivating everyone to stay put, Indian watch and fashion accessory brand Fastrack has announced a social message with a series of three videos featuring Bollywood actor Ananya Panday. With this video series, the brand aims to engage with their TG, the Gen-Z’s, who are stuck at home with nothing but their own company to enjoy. These 12-second films capture Ananya’s spirit of making the best of every situation and shows that this is the best time to experiment and be as outrageous as they like, as long as they #StayTheFIn.
Tohtonku Malaysia launches initiatives to motivate Malaysians to stay home
Skincare and personal care player Tohtonku has devised a series of livestream sessions under a selection of its brands. In collaboration with digital agency Kingdom Digital, the firm has tied up with trending influencers to put together a series of exciting livestream sessions. They are:-
- #ZeroToStyloAtHome - Ubermen & Nanowhite Men organise a personalised, live grooming session led by Shakirin Razik of Barber by Servus.
- #BeWellwithNutox - Nutox presents a series of themed self-healing Facebook live sessions designed especially for frontliners to recuperate and relax.
- #LiveTogetherwithNanowhite - Nanowhite has partnered up with well-known influencers Erissa Puteri Hashim, Nurin Afiqah & Syed Syafiq to present IG live sessions on a series of trending topics.
YouTube's virtual movie festival
YouTube has announced a global film festival called We Are One. The free 10-day digital festival will run from May 29 to June 7. According to the firm, twenty top film festivals will feature their content including festivals at Berlin, Cannes, Sundance Film Festival, Toronto, Tokyo, Tribeca, Jerusalem and Venice. The digital festival will feature films, shorts, documentaries, comedies, music and conversations. A full schedule of events will be posted on the festival's YouTube page soon. The film festival will benefit the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Ikea Singapore donates mugs to migrant workers
As Singapore sees a spike in migrant workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, Ikea Singapore donates snacks and mugs to the affected community. The initiative began when a volunteer from local NGO Itsrainingcoats posted a photo of workers drinking milk straight out of the carton because of a lack of mugs. The photo—which went viral on social media—sparked Ikea to donate 800 mugs to those affected, and the brand also threw in cartons of Ikea-branded snacks.
Carousell and SGBO team up to support freelancers
Carousell has partnered with the Singapore Brand Office (SGBO) to launch ‘MADE in SG’, a campaign to support freelancers and professionals in the media, arts, design, and entertainment industry affected by COVID-19. Many local creative freelancers have been adversely affected by the pandemic, losing their sources of income with cancelled or indefinitely postponed projects. Carousell and the SGBO worked with SG COVID-19 Creative/Cultural Professionals & Freelancers Support Group, a ground-up support group for creative freelancers, to launch MADE in SG. This platform will provide members of the creative community free exposure to sell their creative works and services on Carousell’s front page, as part of a curated collection. To further support them, these members can stand to receive a CarouBiz (Carousell for Business) Starter Pack that comprises three months-worth of Caroubiz subscription and S$100 of Carousell coins. Members can leverage this to gain additional visibility for their listings.
Marriott International launches video conference backgrounds
For the upscale jet-set confined to their homes during the pandemic Marriott International offers a range of 20 virtual backgrounds. The next time you call your colleague, do it from the Maldives or lounge around in a hotel suite, says the hotel chain, with options ranging from beaches and pools to scenic outdoor views.
Google and UOB's program expand support for SMBs
Google and UOB today announced the new curriculum for the SME Leadership Academy training programme has been customised to help business leaders of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the retail, tourism and F&B sectors respond to the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the pressing need for SMEs to be able to transform their businesses digitally, the SME Leadership Academy will also expand its capacity by ten-fold to help 4,000 SMEs by end 2021. To aid the digital transformation of these businesses, this program's content will also be tweaked on three fronts:
- Topics covered: Tailored curriculum teaches SMEs how to use digital solutions, including online collaboration tools, to be more effective when managing their businesses from home.
- Industry focus: Led by trainers from Google and UOB, the programme will focus on providing immediate support to the industries most affected such as retail and tourism.
- Format: Moved the programme from in-person seminars to one-hour-long webinars over several weeks.
Deliveroo offers free testing, funding for its riders
Food delivery platform Deliveroo has partnered with non-profit initiative Project Screen by Circle, and ZA International, parent company of ZA Bank, Hong Kong’s first virtual bank, to sponsor free RT-PCR COVID-19 at-home testing and provide funding support to its riders. This makes Deliveroo the first food delivery company in Hong Kong to offer COVID-19 testing to riders. If riders are diagnosed with novel coronavirus infection, they will not be able to work with Deliveroo until they have recovered and they will be able to obtain an emergency aid of HK$ 20,000 through the ZA Relief Fund by ZA International, in addition to the “rider hardship fund” provided by Deliveroo. Currently, individuals and employers can order COVID-19 testing at a not-for-profit price of HK$985 from Project Screen. For Deliveroo riders who wish to get tested, this will be free as a subsidy provided by Deliveroo and Project Screen. As a comparison, the cost for a COVID-19 test in the private sector is HK$3,000-4,000.
Paree promote menstrual hygeine in India with santiary napkin handout
In India, homegrown sanitary napkin brand, Paree, supported by of a variety of forums including CII-IWN, Rasoi on Wheels and Punjab Police are ensuring that the sanitary napkins reach as many women and girls as possible. Backed by sports and business personalities such as Saina Nehwal, Garima Avatar, Rinki Dhingra (chairwoman of CII-IWN) and Manika Badhwar, co-founder of Rasoi On Wheels, this campaign is active in regions such as like Punjab and India's National Capital Region that encompasses locations such as Delhi and Gurgaon.
Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation donate supplies
The Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation announced a donation of medical supplies to the World Health Organization as part of their ongoing commitment to aid in the global battle against Covid-19. The foundations pledged 100 million face masks, and a million N95 masks and test kits to the United Nations’ international public-health agency, to be distributed to countries and regions impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Netflix and study with documentaries and virtual classrooms
With students now on home-based learning and many of us having a little more time on hand to self-improve or learn new things, Netflix has made two new innovations to help during the pandemic:
Free Documentaries on YouTube
For many years, Netflix has allowed teachers to screen documentaries in their classrooms. However, this isn’t possible with schools closed. So at their request, a selection of documentaries will be available on the Netflix YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/netflix) for free.
Netflix Virtual Classroom
A curation of documentaries by subjects including history, science, sports, or even famous people. There will also be a standalone limited series titled: Coronavirus, explained launching this Sunday, 26 April. This topical series examines the coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to combat it and ways to manage its mental health toll.
Zara's WFH photo shoots
Zara had its models host their own photoshoots, in their own homes, with outdoor shoots upended due to the pandemic. The Spanish brand instead sent models items from its new collection, and gave them the liberty to to choose how to photograph and showcase the outfits.
Order food off Instagram
Food businesses can now share “Order Food” stickers on Instagram Stories and add an action button on their profiles. When users click on the Stories’ sticker or on the profile button, they will be redirected to complete their purchase on their preferred food delivery platform. Singapore is launching these tools with Grab, FoodPanda and Deliveroo.
How it works for businesses on Instagram:
- Business accounts can activate a “Order Food” button on their Instagram profile by adding their delivery partner link in Settings, under Action Buttons.
- Businesses can also add a “Order Food” sticker to their Instagram Stories, which is now available in their Stories tray.
How it works for Instagram users:
- Users can tap on the Stories sticker or profile button, and will be taken to the food order platform (Grab, FoodPanda and Deliveroo) to complete their purchase.
- Users can also re-share the Stories stickers in their own Stories to encourage their followers to support a small business.
Pomelo's fashionable mask range for a cause
Fashion brand Pomelo is expanding its range of antibacterial face masks to now include new, brighter designs. This launch is part of the Pomelo Cares initiative to support organisations leading COVID-19 relief efforts in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. You can get involved by donating funds directly to partner healthcare organisations such as the Singapore Red Cross Society through the Pomelo App.
Thai Airways gives away 3 million reward miles to homebodys
Thai Airways, is seeking to do its part to combat COVID-19 by doing the complete opposite of rewarding people who travel. Instead, it's rewarding people who stay at home by giving away free airline miles to those who limit travel to within their own four walls.
Conceptualised and executed by Wunderman Thompson Thailand, the idea puts 3 million reward miles up for grabs and all that is needed is an active frequent flyer membership (Royal Orchid Plus) with Thai Airways and the 'Stay Home Miles Exchange' app on their device from either the Google Play or Apple app stores. The app uses geolocation technology to determine if the user stays home.
Singapore media industry plans nationwide singalong
Sing Together Singapore, a nationwide “karaoke” session slated for Saturday (April 25) at 19:55, invites Singaporeans to sing along to broadcast music at home and wave torchlights from their balconies while doing so. A who's-who of the media industry is organising the event, including Mediacorp, So Drama! Entertainment, SPH Radio, mm2 Entertainment, AsiaOne, the Association of Independent Producers (AIPRO), and the Mediacorp Partner Network companies comprising 99.co, Popcorn, theAsianparent, The Walt Disney Company South East Asia and VICE Media. The initiative is supported by Gov.sg and Nexus MINDEF.
The performance of "Home" will feature the song’s composer Dick Lee, Rahimah Rahim, Shabir, Taufik Batisah as well as Mediacorp artistes Desmond Tan, Felicia Chin, Rebecca Lim and Vernetta Lopez, all backed by a 900-strong choir from Voices of Singapore.
Home videos uploaded with the hashtag #singtogetherSG, #SingaporeTogether and #stayhomeforSG may be selected to appear in a music video that will be played across Mediacorp’s digital video platform meWATCH and most of its free-to-air TV channels at 10:30 pm Saturday.
Getty Images announces $40,000 in grants for photographers documenting COVID-19 impact
Getty Images announced the launch of its latest Reportage Grant series, centered around COVID-19-related stories.
“In the midst of global uncertainties presenting unprecedented challenges, storytelling becomes more important than ever, as visual content is uniquely able to demonstrate how this particular virus is affecting daily lives around the world,” said Ken Mainardis, senior vice president for content at Getty Images. “While the COVID-19 pandemic looks different depending on the locality, it’s clear that the effects of this virus will outlast the immediate public health emergency, creating significant need for stories detailing socioeconomic, social and wellness implications, as well as innovation in terms of science and technology.”
Eight grants of $5,000 each will be awarded to photographers safely reporting stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular consideration given to those working in their home locations or immediate regions. Visit Where we Stand for details.
DBS aims to help elderly and vulnerable in Hong Kong
DBS Hong Kong, under the company's SG$10.5 million (US$7.36 million) Stronger Together Fund, will provide care packs, food packs and community outreach services to help elderly and vulnerable people in the city.
The “Care More” initiative will help Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, a self-financing non-profit organisation, increase its Care-on-Call outreach services by more than 20,000 service sessions, including calls and home visits by professional social workers and/or registered nurses. The organisation will also provide more than 30,000 care and food packs procured from social enterprise Agent of Change, according to DBS.
In addition, the company will match every dollar raised by employees for local charity partner Foodlink Foundation, which is working to provide DBS “Care more” Food Packs to effected individuals and families. In total, DBS Hong Kong employees and the bank are seeking to provide at least 8,000 DBS “Care more” Food Packs.
Foodpanda and Dentsu Aegis support those putting food on Malaysia's tables
Foodpanda and Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) launched the “#hanyakeranamu” campaign, which salutes "food frontliners".
Fabian Emanuel, head of marketing for Foodpanda, noted that when customers place an order, they are not only putting a meal on their own table, but also on the tables of farmers, fishers, lorry drivers, chefs and delivery riders.
In addition to the 60-second online video above, a 15-second TVC will be airing on Media Prima channels, Astro and TV2 until the end of April, and influencers including sitilovevorex, zizizulkifli and zeatyalia are involved in the campaign.
The campaign invites Malaysians to share their thanks via text, voice notes or video messages with the hashtag #hanyakeranamu. This user-generated content will be selected and featured across 37 DOOH screens through Posterscope, in partnership with Laguna and Wow Outdoor.
Singapore Tourism Board asks people to stay home
In support of the 'circuit breaker' measures now extended to June 1, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) created a public service announcement to encourage Singaporeans and residents to play their part by staying at home. The above video was released on STB's Facebook and LinkedIn channels and features tourism frontliners including from Singapore Zoo (Wildlife Reserve Singapore), Gardens by The Bay, Sentosa, National Gallery and a Tourist Guide, some of whom are still on rotational duty providing essential care and services.
Bloomberg Media offers college students worldwide free digital subscriptions
Bloomberg Media announced that starting April 22 every college and graduate student across the globe will have free access to Bloomberg.com for three months.
“Bloomberg Media is dedicated to providing our global audience the news and information they rely on to make informed decisions, and we want to ensure this also extends to the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders who will need to navigate the impacts of the coronavirus for the unforeseeable future,” Justin B. Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, said in a release.
Students can register with their university email address here.
Bloomberg Media removed the paywall on coronavirus news that are particularly helpful to
the public in late February and will continue to provide all readers free access to critical
updates on the pandemic.
HP uses 3D printing to produce hospital equipment
When a nursing supervisor in Spain sent a plea to HP’s 3D printing centre about the lack of respirators in hospitals, HP reacted. Within two days of receiving the message, HP’s manufacturing centre in Barcelona evaluated the respirator design, printed them, and sent them to the hospital for validation.
With 500 connectors having been produced on 3D printers in the Barcelona plants, HP now has the capacity to produce 10,000 respirators per week. And so far, HP and its global community of partners and customers have produced more than 150,000 parts for medical applications. The brand has also made the 3D printable designs available for free on its website with applications for medical usage including face shields, masks, mask adjusters, wrist covers, and hands-free door openers. The page will be continually updated as designs are validated.
Foodtech company TiffinLabs helps deliver 30,000 meals in Singapore
TiffinLabs has partnered with local charity Free Food For All to provide food to low-income families and individuals who have experienced job displacement.
The organisation has seen a tenfold increase in applications for help in the last two weeks, mainly from young working families. The first donation drive, which took place on Saturday (18 April), saw 5,000 meals distributed, and in coming weeks TiffinLabs chefs will be preparing meals including Hainanese chicken rice and spaghetti bolognese.
Said Kishin RK, chairman and founder of TiffinLabs:
We feel truly humbled to be able to play our part in helping Singaporeans in this time of need. In the last two weeks, there’s been a significant increase in the number of Singaporeans who need help putting food on the table, and with TiffinLabs’ expertise in preparing and cooking freshly prepared high quality meals for delivery, we felt it was our duty to play our part. It has been inspiring to be part of #SGUnited with businesses from all industries working with charities and the government to get help to where it’s most needed, and we will continue to support as long as there’s a need.
AXA challenges employees to support ICUs in 60 countries
AXA has launched a global solidarity challenge on social media that enables all its employees to support 1,200 intensive care units in 60 countries, including Singapore.
By publishing a post, such as an encouraging message to healthcare workers, on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram with the #AXASolidarityResponse hashtag, employees can "unlock" a €5 donation to the 101 Fund, financed by AXA, and will also have the opportunity to make a personal donation if they wish on a dedicated 101 Fund page.
The challenge is an extension of AXA's partnership with 101 Fund, which aims to foster information sharing and collaboration between the intensive care units in its network. The donations will support training programs, a clinical research program dedicated to COVID-19 and development of artificial intelligence algorithms to predict the occurrence of complications in the treatment of the virus.
Alibaba opens competition for students to solve post-outbreak challenges
Alibaba Business School has launched the Alibaba Global E-Commerce Talent (GET) Global Challenge 2020 to help businesses recover and rebound after the outbreak. The competition targets university and higher education institution students from 13 markets (including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand) and will be conducted virtually across four phases.
Teams submitting their business proposals will receive coaching and reference materials based on modern case studies and learning assets via Alibaba’s DingTalk live streaming sessions. The top six teams who qualify for the world finals will also receive one-on-one coaching sessions and will receive business funding by Alibaba as well as the eligibility to join the global GET talent bank. The winning team will also be granted a fully sponsored digital economy discovery trip to Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, including sessions with Alibaba GET Network trainers.
Australian brands donate 30-second ads
At this time, Australia’s national suicide prevention service Lifeline has been in great demand as they receive calls every 30 seconds. To raise awareness, some brands are donating their TV and radio placements to Lifeline to help them achieve their fundraising goal of AU$5 million (US$3.15 million).
So far, brands that have agreed to donate 30-second placements are Westpac, Woolworths, Bunnings, Uncle Tobys, Vegemite, Haagen Dazs, Officeworks, Old El Paso, Channel 7, and Southern Cross Austereo. The idea was conceptualised by Lifeline’s agency partner, Thinkerbell.
Deliveroo will reduce commission rates for restaurants in Hong Kong
The delivery service will reduce commission rates to 5% for all pick-up orders to ease restaurants’ burdens during this time. The reduced commission will apply to all Deliveroo partnering F&B outlets in Hong Kong, effective immediately until the end of June. Over 1,500 new restaurants have joined the service since January, with 60-70% of them opting in to join the pick-up service. Since December last year, Deliveroo has seen 300% growth in both restaurants offering pick-up services.
Shopee announces support package to help Singapore sellers
The ecommerce platform has launched its Shopee Seller Support Package (SSSP) to help local sellers and SMEs in the current environment. The monetary support totalling SG$1 million (US$700k) will help local offline retailers in establishing an online presence and diversifying their revenue streams, while also allowing existing sellers scale their businesses.
The SSSP will also allow sellers to benefit in three ways: lowered advertising, cashback and free shipping costs; coins cashback and free shipping programme; and training and support for new sellers.
Thailand's CP Group builds its own factory to produce free masks
One of the world's largest privately-owned multinational conglomerates, Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) is flexing considerable muscle to mobilise initiatives to fight COVID-19. While other companies donate masks and equipment, CP decided to build its own USD$3 million factory just outside Bangkok to produce medical-grade surgical masks. The factory was built over the past 5 weeks and received regulatory approval from Thai authorities to start producing as of last Friday. The factory can produce 100,000 masks per day, totalling 3 million masks per month. The masks will be donated for free to medical professionals and healthcare workers throughout Thailand's hospitals. When the COVID-19 crisis subsides, CP says the factory's ownership will be transferred to one of Bangkok's public hospitals.
CP Group has now donated more than USD$29 million in Thailand to tackle COVID-19, including:
- Support to employees: CEO Suphachai Chearavanont announced on April 8th, 2020 to staff that the Group is committed to not making layoffs across the Group worldwide. In addition, the Group will cover medical expenses to treat COVID-19, provide education loans for their employees' children, and food to quarantined employees negatively impacted by COVID-19 in Thailand. The Group also announced plans to create new jobs, including hiring 20,000 new employees for food delivery services across Thailand.
- Free delivery of food and supplies to hospitals: CP Foods (CPF) has provided free food delivery to 88 hospitals across Thailand and to cope with rising demand for food supply throughout Thailand, CPF has increased production capacity of certain essential food such as eggs to ensure sufficient supplies without an increase in food prices.
- Upgrading digital infrastructure for remote working and elearning: CP Group's telecom arm, True Corp, has tripled domestic and international bandwidth capacity to provide customers with enhanced services on digital platforms for -learning, remote working and e-payment services. To provide digital solutions that help with social distancing, True Corporation has offered free access to a cloud-based integrated solutions platform - "True Virtual World"- that was developed in less than a month during COVID-19 to support work from home arrangements and e-learning for students. True Corporation, in collaboration with CPF, is also providing free mobile phone SIM cards to suspected COVID-19 patients who register to receive free food delivery from CPF.
Fosun Pharma gets FDA approval for COVID-19 detection kit
Fosun Long March, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fosun Pharma and part of the Chinese multinational Fosun conglomerate, has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. FDA for its self-developed COVID-19 RT-PCR detection kit. The kit, which has already received Chinese and EU approval can complete the detection of coronavirus in 96 samples within two hours by using automated extraction techniques. Automated testing also lowers the risk of operator infection, reduces the probability of cross contamination in the clinical laboratory, and improves detection efficiency.
Meanwhile, on April 6th, Fosun Pharma hosted a cross-border video conference dialogue on the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 at its global anti-epidemic headquarters (photo above). The forum shared information between medical experts in China on the Chinese experience with public health experts and frontline doctors from the UK, US, Europe, Africa, India and elsewhere.
Vietnamese DTC mattress startup donates 1500 mattresses to hospitals
Ru9, a Vietnamese direct-to-consumer mattress company, is donating 1500 mattresses and pillow sets to hospitals and quarantine centers across Vietnam. There was a sudden spike in the number of people needed to be housed at quarantine centers in the country following the government's order for a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers.
The first destination was Cu Chi Hospital with 60 mattresses and 60 pillows on April 7th and so far, Ru9 has delivered another 85 mattresses to Go Vap Hospital and 265 mattresses to Bach Mai Hospital, one of the heaviest centers of the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam. The next step will see the company deliver 250 mattresses to the National Hospital of ObGyn and 500 mattresses to quarantine camps through the Fatherland Front Committee within April 2020.
Accenture builds platform to connect laid off staff with hiring organisations
As unemployment reaches record numbers during this period, Accenture has designed People + Work Connect, an employer-to-employer initiative that brings together companies laying off or furloughing people with those companies in urgent need of workers. There is no cost for employers to join and participate.
People + Work Connect was designed by chief human resource officers from Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon, and Accenture built the platform. So far, participating companies include ADM, Baxter, Blue Apron, Cargill, Frito-Lay, Lincoln Financial Group, Marriott, Mondelēz International, Nordstrom, ServiceNow, Walmart and Zenefits. More than 250 companies are expected to onboard over the next week and the platform will soon add public sector jobs.
Facebook provides digital training for SMEs
Facebook launched its SMB Go-Digital Program in Hong Kong, an online education series for small-to-medium businesses. The programme will provide online resources for businesses to grow and acquire digital skills amid COVID-19. Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) have partnered up with Facebook on the programme.
Phase one of the programme will see participating businesses receive receive free online consultations with Facebook experts and access to a host of online resources to boost their businesses, such as webinars, on-demand videos of panel discussions and resource guides for industries such as e-commerce, retail and travel.
Phase two will invite participation from members of other partners including Cyberport, Hong Kong Productivity Council, SMB Lab and more. Upon full rollout, the programme is expected to benefit over 10,000 businesses in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, in Singapore, Facebook is partnering with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Marketing College and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to launch a series of training sessions via webinars to help SMEs cope. The webinars will be targeted at sectors most impacted by the pandemic, such as travel, hospitality, retail and MICE.
Carousell donates ad inventory to not-for-profit organisations
The online marketplace will offer up to HKD 10.87 million (US$1.4 million) in an ad support program for NGOs. The fund will focus on supporting non-profit organisations in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and in the Philippines and their efforts to replenish supply of food and essential health products, donations for upkeep cost, call for volunteers, and other initiatives caring for families-at-risk and seniors in need.
The initiative will launch with existing partnerships including Habitat for Humanity in Hong Kong, Singapore Red Cross in Singapore, Parents Without Partners in Malaysia and Caritas Manila in the Philippines.
StashAway, Revolut and PolicyPal offer cashbacks for medical frontliners
Wealth management company StashAway, fintech company Revolut, and insurance broker PolicyPal have joined forces to launch Medical Energizer, a Singapore-based programme to support medical frontliners in terms of finance, insurance and rides benefits.
Revolut, a Visa partner, will offer medical personnel 3% cashback for every transaction made on their Revolut Visa cards without any caps and up to SG$50 (US$35) ride rebates per week for any ride-sharing services or taxi ride. Meanwhile, PolicyPal will offer Personal Accident COVID-19 insurance with a diagnosis benefit of SG$3,000 (US$2,108) and up to SG$2,000 (US$1,405) outpatient medical expenses reimbursement. Medical personnel are also eligible to receive free investing for six months from StashAway.
The brands are also calling on customers to donate directly on the Revolut app via the instant Payments feature, and 100% of contributions will go directly to the ride rebates for frontliners.
Tiger supports restaurants and pubs in Southeast Asia
Tiger launched its #SupportOurStreets programme to help local pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and food courts to stay afloat during this time of closures and lockdowns. In Singapore, the brewer pledges SG$1 million (US$702,745) and rallied Singaporeans to donate an additional target of SG$300k. Consumers were encouraged to donate SG$10 on the Tiger website, and they will be compensated with a Tiger beer voucher for two to be redeemed post-outbreak. Each week, contributions will be channeled directly towards local restaurants.
In Malaysia, Tiger will donate RM1.5 million (US$344,431) to struggling street food businesses to cover their rent during this period. Similarly, consumers can show support by purchasing a voucher for a large bottle of Tiger Crystal price at RM10, to be redeemed when lockdowns are lifted. On redemption, the participating restaurant will receive their voucher of RM10 plus an additional RM17 donated by Tiger, capped at RM500,000.
Details on initiatives in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam will be released soon.
Adidas Singapore offers free virtual experiences
Adidas Singapore will offer free virtual experiences over the next few weeks to encourage them to stay active, practise mindfulness, learn, seek entertainment and stay connected. The sportswear brand will bring together local athletes and creators to share their skills, training and advice, in videos that will be rolled out across its social and digital channels. These experiences include:
- Lunchtime jams on Instagram Live with local acts including Jon Chua JX, Benjamin Kheng and Sezairi Sezali.
- DJ live streams with turntablist Wayne Liu (DJ KoFlow) and co-founder of .Wav(y) Pravin Gunalan (P R A V).
- Mindfulness reset sessions that include breathing techniques for relieving stress (by former national athlete Alex Loh), and art journaling by Yang (@yangermeister_) that soothes the soul.
- Live-streamed workouts and post-workout recovery sessions with the coach (Jonathan Fong) and captains (Eugene Lim and Sofie Chandra) of adidas runners Singapore, as well as the brand’s creators (Eugena Bey, Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw).
- Nutrition tips on boosting immunity by sports nutritionist James Yeo, and healthy recipe ideas from our brand creator and foodie/food journalist Victoria Cheng.
- At-home photography inspiration and mobile photo editing tips by popular photographer Aik Soon, to inspire and foster the creative communities.
Separately, the brand has just received approval for a €3 billion (US$3.3 billion) loan largely funded by the German government to help it cope with the impact of COVID-19 on sales.
Suncorp has pledged AUD$1 million (US$640,000) to children's charity The Smith Family to support online learning for disadvantaged children at home. The pledge aims to help The Smith Family bridge the growing digital divide facing vulnerable communities across Australia as essential services, including education, move online during the COVID-19 crisis.
According to The Smith Family, almost a quarter of students (23%) of the more than 50,000 students on its Learning for Life program don’t have access to a computer with reliable internet at home. Without access to these essential tools, disadvantaged students are at risk of falling further behind at school. This situation can also affect them later in life, as they will lack valuable skills they need to take part in the digital world. The pledge concept and supporting communications were developed in collaboration between Suncorp and creative agency partner Ogilvy Australia.
YouTube creates video building tool
To help small and mid-sized businesses—as well as those with limited production resources—continue to produce visual communications, YouTube has launched Video Builder, a product that allows businesses to create video assets using just two static images and a company logo.
Video Builder is a free beta tool that lets users animate static images, text and logos and place them alongside music from the YouTube library. Videos can be made in just a few minutes and can be either six or 15-seconds long. The tool allows brands and agencies to quickly and efficiently develop basic content for the YouTube audience, such as videos about store hours changing, new services being offered due to COVID-19 and more.
Apple leverages tech to aid public health authorities
Apple has released data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This data is gathered by counting the number routing requests from Apple Maps, which is installed on all iPhones, and comparing it to past usage to detect changes in the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world, Apple said.
The information is being updated daily and compared to a date in mid-January, before most US lockdown measures were in place, Apple said. The data would be aggregated so that the requests from individual users would not be shown, and it does not track individual users or their locations. The information will show changes for major cities and 63 countries or regions.
Thai clothing brand releases 'social distancing' T-shirt
How far is two metres? It might be difficult for some to gauge how far to stand away from others in public spaces in accordance with WHO recommendations.
Thai brand GQ Apparel launched a line of T-shirts and face masks with small-font messages that are readable within two meters. The message warns those who can read it to move away until they cannot. The copy reads: “Step back until you can’t read this.”
The letter size was certified as visible within two metres for the average eyesight by The Association of Thai Optometrists. All proceeds from the collection will be donated to Ramathibodi Foundation for purchasing ventilators and medical equipment for COVID-19 patients.
Airbnb and Tripadvisor launch virtual experiences
Within days of each other, Airbnb and Tripadvisor have launched virtual experience offerings to provide those confined at home with a way to sight-see, learn new skills, or be entertained.
Airbnb Online Experiences offers would-be travellers with access to "thousands" of activities from hosts around the world—such as mystical coffee and fortune reading, meditation with a Japenese monk, a day in the life of an Olympic bobsledder or an Irish dance masterclass. Importantly, it will also allow hosts to continue earning income. The experiences will take place over videoconferencing platform Zoom, and can be booked through Airbnb’s website and app.
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor’s tour company Viator has rolled out more than 100 virtual experiences—including virtual cooking classes, self-guided wine-tasting and sight-seeing tours—as part of its #RoamFromHome campaign. The experiences will be a mixture of paid-for and free. Roughly 80% of the paid-for experiences are from small business operators, the company said.
Carousell to support small food and beverage establishments in Singapore
Online marketplace Carousell has launched a #SupportLocal initiative to support both small food and beverage establishments and small and medium enterprise (SME) owners in Singapore, whose businesses have been impacted most severely by quarantine measures.
The classifieds business, which facilitates consumer-to-consumer selling of products, will be adding a local food and beverage (F&B) category to its offering to provide small businesses with a platform to market their on-demand takeaway services. This will provide the businesses with increased visibility, and allow them to offer direct ordering and deliveries without having to pay a premium or commission to external vendors. It will be onboarding over 2,500 F&B businesses onto the newly created local F&B category, in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions, a key food service supplier with brands such as Knorr, Best Foods and Lipton.
Wei Cheng, a second-generation business owner of 亮光海鲜 汤 Liang Guang Seafood Soup, said: "Many food-stall owners like us are not equipped for delivery services and although the government has provided rental support, our stall does not qualify for the waiver. Right now, we can only work with what we have to reach out to the neighbourhood."
"We really appreciate Carousell’s initiative to provide a platform for us small local F&Bs. Any visibility during this time is extremely important and we’re banking on local support from those around us,” Cheng added.
Carousell chief commercial officer Lewis Ng said the platform has the unique opportunity to rally a sizeable portion of the community, when 1 in 4 Singaporeans use the platform.
The platform will also be providing aid to local SMEs who have been impacted by COVID-19, with a business grant that entitles them to three months worth of premium services on Carousell, including a CarouBiz (Carousell for Business) subscription.
AirAsia encourages staff to deliver food, top execs to forgo salaries
The low-cost airline has encouraged staff to temporarily take up employment as delivery riders for Santan, the airline’s fast-food restaurant at a mall in Kuala Lumpur. In a Malay Mail report, a flight data analyst for AirAsia said the chance for alternative employment has eased the uncertainties of staff members after the airline grounded most of its fleet.
Plus, founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun will not take a salary during this period. It’s also been reported that staff from across the business "have accepted temporary pay reductions of anywhere between 15 to 75%, depending on seniority". So far, the airline has retained all staff.
Last weekend, Fernandes urged customers to accept store credit for replacement flights instead of claiming refunds for flights affected by COVID-19. His statement has been met with some backlash among Malaysians.
The company is seeking out a Malaysian government loan to bolster its significant revenue slump. Meanwhile, data from Bloomberg shows that the airline is positioned as second best in Asia in its reliability on cash reserves during this period. Data showed AirAsia could go 10 months without bankruptcy assuming 100% capacity cuts and zero cash inflow.
Expedia offers discounted hotel rates for healthcare frontliners
Expedia Group—which includes Expedia and Hotels.com—has launched a Singapore Healthcare Heroes initiative to provide rooms at heavily discounted rates for healthcare professionals to self-isolate, rest, and recuperate. The group partnered up with 14 properties in Singapore for this.
The offer extends to all COVID-19 facing healthcare professionals who are employees of hospitals, clinics, home care facilities, emergency medical services and ambulance services, as well as the Ministry of Health. Hotel partners will also implement arrangements for healthcare professionals to not only enforce safe social distancing, but also ensure minimised contact with other hotel guests.
Marriott displays smiley faces across APAC hotels
Last week, Marriott International—the biggest hotel group in the world—lit up its properties with smiley faces to “send a positive message”. Over 270 properties across APAC took part. The group also said that its associates from hotels across APAC have volunteered over 40,000 hours to serve their communities; these contributions include food donations, production of protective gear for medical staff, and securing shelter for medical professionals and journalists.
Last month, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said that COVID-19 has caused a dent in the business that was “bigger than 9/11 and the financial crisis combined”. The group has furloughed tens of thousands of workers and put many on unpaid leave.
NTUC LearningHub offers free courses for Singaporeans
Education and training provider NTUC LearningHub has partnered with compliance platform GO1 to offer free online courses for Singaporeans during this ‘circuit breaker’ period. The library of free courses include skillsets such as coding, data analytics, graphic design, Adobe Photoshop, blockchain, and cloud. The courses will be made available in a’ bite-sized format’ with each course duration ranging from nine minutes to seven hours.
Plus, as a growing number of migrant workers are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, the hub will also provide relevant Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) courses for them.
Pomelo produces antibacterial face masks
Southeast Asian fashion brand Pomelo has announced a bunch of COVID-19 initiatives including the in-house production of antibacterial face masks, with 100% of profits going towards medical supplies for partner organisations such as Singapore’s Red Cross Society.
A new feature on the online platform also allows shoppers to donate funds or surgical masks directly to partner health organisations in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Pomelo made an initial donation of 40,000 surgical masks to Thailand’s Red Cross and it has plans to donate more.
Heineken donates to Red Cross, promises to retain staff
The brewer announced that it will not carry out structural layoffs as a consequence of COVID-19. Meanwhile, those who work in production and distribution will continue to follow strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines and receive support to do their jobs safely. The company also commits to paying suppliers at agreed payment terms and will support its most vulnerable small- and medium-sized suppliers through early payments.
In terms of donations, it will deploy water and non-alcoholic beverages, hand sanitisers and monetary contributions to medical facilities. And as a response to the March 26 international appeal, the brand will be donating €15 million (US$16 million) to support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in particular in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
William Grant & Sons to open ‘virtual bar’ in Singapore
The international distillery is launching the 1887 Virtual Bar which will kick off its first shift via Zoom today featuring a guest appearance by Sam Wong, head bartender at Singapore-based bar Shin Gi Tai.
The virtual bar will feature weekly guest shifts hosted by bartenders from popular bars in Singapore, accompanied by Charmaine Thio and Brett Bayly, regional brand ambassadors for Hendrick’s Gin and Glenfiddich. Click here to register for the Zoom bar sessions.
Those who join in can make donations from home to support the hard-hit bartending and hospitality industry by purchasing a digital cocktail off the menu. Each partner bar will showcase four drinks on the ticketing platform, and every SG$20 donated to their bar of choice will entitle consumers to a digital drinks voucher, redeemable for a drink when the bar resumes operations. William Grant & Sons will also match the value in donations up to S$1,000 per bar.
Twitter CEO to donate more than a quarter of his fortune
I’m moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI. It will operate transparently, all flows tracked here: https://t.co/hVkUczDQmz— jack (@jack) April 7, 2020
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged to donate US$1 billion out of his square equity towards COVID-19 efforts. In a candid Twitter post, he said that the amount was approximately 28% of his personal wealth. “After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI,” he said. He also started a public Google Doc for people for the funds to operate transparently. Dorsey’s move was widely praised.
So far, no one individual has publicly topped this amount. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos – also the richest man in the world- donated US$100 million to an American food bank charity, and reports say that the amount is equivalent to 0.1% of his estimated wealth. For more context, remember when we reported about Amazon chief Jeff Bezos turning to the public for donations to fund his contract employees during COVID-19?
Amazon Web Services assists WHO, enables virtual classes for teachers
Amazon Web Services (AWS) announces that it will work closely with WHO to support COVID-19 research, and is coffering the health organisation with cloud tech and technical expertise. This includes building vast "data lakes" aggregating epidemiological country data and translating medical training videos into different languages.
The brand also launched its AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative and made an initial investment of US$20 million to speed up diagnostic research, innovation, and development around COVID-19. The Initiative begins with participation from 35 global research institutions, startups and businesses.
A noble effort has been to support teachers with virtual classes at no cost. To ease teachers into home-based teaching, the Educator Mobilization initiative leverages its network of educators with experience teaching online, and offers webinars on a variety of remote learning topics.
Starbucks channels US$10 million towards employee support
The company will channel US$10 million towards partners and employees around the world. These ‘hardship grants’ will be made available to employees facing extreme hardship as a result of COVID-19 and will allow access to emergency support. Eligible categories for the fund grants include housing and utilities, sudden loss of home, death of a family member or partner, and related funeral expenses.
In markets such as China and Japan, these grants are available to partners through the existing Caring Unites Partners (CUP) Fund. In the rest of Asia where Starbucks operates with local licensed businesses, these grants are available to partners through the Emergency Assistance Foundation.
WhatsApp introduces limit to forwarded messages
To reduce the spread of misinformation via WhatsApp, the chat platform introduced a new function where users will now only be able to forward messages that are deemed “highly forwarded” to just one chat person or group at a time.
Messages that had been forwarded fewer than five times are indicated with a single arrow while “highly forwarded” messages are indicated with double arrows indicating that the message was forwarded among users more than five times and did not originate from a close contact.
The new update was introduced to contain virality during COVID-19.
KFC Malaysia encourages people to cook at home
As Malaysians stay home under the country's movement control order, KFC is encouraging people to 'get creative' with how they're eating KFC chicken at home. In a social campaign called #KepciKitchen, food influencers were called upon to develop recipes that incorporate a hot & spicy wing among other KFC products. People are encouraged to share their food photos on Instagram, and the best entries may win delivery vouchers. The campaign was led by Reprise and UM.
Diageo donates spirit to developing countries in Southeast Asia
Diageo has pledged to donate neutral spirit, a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in production of alcohol beverages, to Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar. 60,000 litres of spirit will be donated which is enough for the production of over a million bottles of sanitisers or disinfecting agents.
Sentosa releases Zoom backgrounds
At a time when most people are stuck at home and are likely thinking about tropical beach holidays, Singapore resort group Sentosa has created a series of stills and animated images to be used as Zoom backgrounds during conferences and meetings. The images includes a waiter serving up cocktails by a pool deck and beloved Steven Spielberg character ET telling folks to stay home. See above for footage of a monkey fending off emails. To download the images, click here.
Fashion etailer Zalora expands into food & health essentials
Zalora is putting its logistics network to more essential use by expanding its product offering into health and food products. As chief commercial officer Giulio Xiloyannis posted on LinkedIn:
"We now offer food health and household categories with everything ranging from cleaning products and toothpaste to honey and protein powder. This new offering is especially beneficial to our customers who cannot go outside to shop and are not within the reach of Grab or Foodpanda."
Xiloyannis noted that Zalora already has one of the top 5 logistics networks in Southeast Asia. Some offerings may be limited to certain markets (Malaysian customer orders receive free hand sanitizer), but the platform has issued an open invitation to brands to partner on community initiatives.
Marina Bay Sands donates 15,000kg of food ahead of one-month closure
Marina Bay Sands (MBS) restaurants have donated nearly 15,000kg of bread, vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy products and eggs to The Food Bank Singapore. The move comes as the resort closes down for one month as part of a government led 'circuit breaker plan to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In an announcement on its website, MBS says that aside from essential services, most businesses will be required to close from April 7 until May 4, 2020. Its casino already closed on Monday. Reservations for room nights and tickets for attractions during this period will be cancelled and refunded accordingly.
Alibaba CEO launches new 'Spring Thunder' initiatives for SME relief
Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang has issued a staff memo announcing the launch of the “2020 Spring Thunder Initiative” to help SMEs in trying circumstances.
The initiative includes:
- Helping export-focused SMEs expand into new markets through AliExpress, Lazada and Tmall World.
- Helping a subset of these SMEs transform and develop their business in the China market through measures such as resource support, fee reductions and fast-track processing.
Activating manufacturing belts, incubate a group of “Super Producer IP” designations, and fostering 10 digitized manufacturing clusters with production output valued at tens of billions in RMB.
Helping 1,000 factories realize direct-to-consumer sales of over RMB 100 million within three years.
- Helping the agricultural sector prosper through digitization, creating 1,000 Alibaba digitized agricultural centers across China.
- Helping alleviate financing challenges for more SMEs by extending “immediate settlement” services until June 30th. Ant Financial’s online merchant bank says it will work with hundreds of traditional banks to provide zero-contact loans to tens of millions of small and micro businesses.
The name of the initiative dates back to the 2008 financial crisis when Alibaba rolled out three major relief initiatives for SMEs ('Dark Cloud', 'Wild Winds' and 'Spring Thunder' to survive what was described as an 'economic winter” for them.
Singapore Airlines cabin crew to help fill labour gaps at hospitals
Singapore Airlines (SIA) is providing at least 300 "care ambassadors" to help mitigate labour shortages at hospitals as the number of COVID-19 cases rise.
As reported by Channel News Asia, the SIA programme received more than 300 applications and will be reviewed based on hospital needs.
“To support the nation, Singapore Airlines has opened its call for support to all cabin crew to fill the role of care ambassador. With our crew’s expertise at providing care and world-class service, they are deemed to be a natural fit for this role," the carrier told CNA.
Supervised by nurses, care ambassadors will provide administrative support and attend to routine patient care in non-clinical roles in low-risk wards, such as attending to call bells, helping patients to sit up in bed, accompanying patients to the washrooms, serving meals and assisting during therapy sessions.
Care ambassadors will serve a minimum of three months with the option to extend, earning a monthly salary but not be entitled to any monthly salary or allowances from SIA. the report said.
Tencent open-sources AI-powered COVID-19 self-triage assistant
Tencent has open-sourced a COVID-19 self-triage assistant in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The AI-powered tool helps people carry out a self-check on potential coronavirus infection to reduce the risk of cross-infection "caused by panic and seeking medical care inappropriately." The technology is now available on Github for developers around the world.
Tencent Health says its COVID-19 self-triage assistant Since has already helped 40 disease control and prevention centers, more than 300 hospitals, over 30 independent software vendor partners across 17 provinces in China and served tens of millions of people since launch.
Prior to this tool, Tencent open-sourced a COVID-19 live updates module in March that it says has answered six billion pandemic-related queries in China over the past two months.
Gogovan & Pickupp launch door-to-door saliva specimen pick-up services
Hong Kong's Department of Health has started a new a door-to-door saliva specimen collection service to submit deep throat saliva specimens for COVID-19 testing. Asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving from overseas are required to submit such samples and the pick-up services is a new convenient alternative.
Both Gogovan and Pickupp were selected to carry out the service that began April 3rd. Upon receipt of a request from inbound travellers, one of the two service providers will collect their specimen bottles from their registered address across Hong Kong (except outlying islands and other remote areas) and drop them off at any of the 13 designated clinics. The service providers will directly contact the individual inbound traveller and charge a fee of $100.
Accor streamlines marketing spend, launches COVID-19 fund
More than half of the hotels worldwide in the Accor group have closed and that could increase to two thirds in the coming weeks. Internally, the group has implemented travel bans, hiring freezes, and reduced schedules and/or furloughing for 75% of global head office teams for Q2.
This could result in a minimum €60 million (US$65 million) reduction in general and administrative expenses for 2020. The group is also streamlining all other costs including sales, marketing, and IT in line with lower revenues. Accor announced that it can rely on a strong balance sheet, with more than €2.5 billion (US$2.71 billion) in cash on hand and an undrawn revolving credit facility of €1.2 billion (US$1.3 billion).
After consulting with the group’s main shareholders, the brand has also decided to withdraw its proposal for a 2019 dividend payment of €280 million (US$303 million), and instead, allocate 25% of the planned dividend (US$76 million) to the launch of the ‘ALL Heartist Fund’ to support the group’s 300,000 employees and furloughed employees suffering financial distress, as well as healthcare professionals and non-profit organisations. Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin will take a 25% pay cut with the cash equivalent being contributed towards the fund.
Razer will begin to manufacture face masks in Singapore
Singapore-based gaming company Razer says it will set up an “automated face mask manufacturing line” within 30 days to produce "a couple of million certified masks" each month, CEO Tan Min-Liang announced on Facebook. Frasers Property, JustCo and PBA Group will contribute US$50,000 each to purchase the masks once ready.
Razer had initially converted existing product manufacturing lines in China to make and donate masks with initial shipments going out earlier this week. But the company said it has been "inundated by requests due to an extreme shortage of face masks and PPEs", particularly in Southeast Asia, and decided to set up a manufacturing line in Singapore.
According to a press release, the new three-layer masks will be "certified to Singapore and international standards" as it said that "many of the face masks in the market are not properly manufactured, do not meet certification standards and offer little or no protection to the users”.
TikTok launches weekend livestream programme
The social media platform will curate a #StayAtHome live special in Singapore to entertain and educate users. The show will include celebrity-hosted talkshow segments, unplugged music showcases by local acts and live cooking demos. Local celebrities involved this week are Dasmond Koh, Zong Zijie, Gavin Teo and Kimberly Chia. The weekly weekend programme line-up will be revelaed each week.
Tesla donates ventilators that ‘cannot be used’ in hospitals
Tesla CEO Elon Musk vowed to donate FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions with free device and shipping costs. It’s noble on paper, but health officials in New York hospitals that received a shipment of 1,000 ventilators from Tesla have said the devices “cannot be used” because they weren’t powerful enough for ICU usage.
According to a NPR report, the variety of ventilators donated could “possibly increase the spread of infectious disease by aerosolising the virus”. Musk hasn’t offered an alternative to the mishap, but this is a man who also called the coronavirus panic “dumb”.
However, Tesla sales surpassed expectations in the first quarter of the year ending March with 88,400 vehicles delivered, resulting in its shares soaring by 20%.
Facebook, 7News, SCMP and The Straits Times launch online news special on COVID-19
Facebook and three major newsrooms from across the Asia Pacific will combine to host a special Facebook Watch news event on COVID-19, “COVID FRONTLINE” on Friday April 3rd. Editorial desks from 7News (Australia), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and The Straits Times (Singapore) analyse and share lessons from the region’s experience on combating COVID-19.
The 45 minute Facebook Watch special will cross between 7NEWS.com.au’s Sydney studio, The South China Morning Post's studio in Hong Kong and The Straits Times studio in Singapore. The show will begin at 12 noon Hong Kong/Singapore time and 3pm in Australia (EDT).
During the show, COVID-19 experts will join the discussion from countries across the region, sharing insights, learnings and answering questions submitted by Facebook viewers.
The experts interviewed during this TV special will span world-leading medical experts and researchers as well some of the region’s most experienced journalists. The show will be co-hosted by Michael Usher, Anchor of The Latest from 7NEWS (Australia), Salma Khalik, Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times(Singapore) and Yonden Lhatoo, Chief News Editor, the South China Morning Post.
The show will be streamed as a premiere video via the Facebook pages of 7News, SCMP and The Straits Times.
Hansgrohe uses COVID-19 as a sales opportunity
In a press release with slogans such as "protect yourself and family at the push of a button", Hansgrohe is using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to sell more washing basin fixtures.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and loved ones from getting sick and keeping our hands clean can help to minimize the spread of virus in private and public spaces. Choosing the right bathroom mixer could help us to maintain better personal hygiene and stay healthy, and the right bathroom mixer should be practical for everyday use.
One might counter that ALL sink taps by nature must be practical enough for everyday use.
However, Hansgrohe argues its 'Select' push-button taps are "especially useful when soapy hands are involved: the back of a hand or the lower arm can start and stop the flow of water without getting the fixture dirty."
Can the back of a hand or lower arm not move a lever as well?
Maybank rolls out customer financial relief schemes and employee assistance
Starting April 1, Maybank has introduced a COVID-19 financial relief scheme in Malaysia, including a 6-month automatic repayment moratorium and credit card relief alongside measures in Singapore, including home loan payment relief.
For employees, Maybank Singapore has rolled out a bundle of financial assistance, reimbursement and vouchers in response to COVID-19 that includes:
- A S$100 thank-you voucher to all frontline sales and service staff and security personnel working at 18 Maybank branches in Singapore, as well as all the security guards, property management agents and cleaners.
- A one-time financial assistance of S$1,400 paid to employees living in Singapore temporarily due to Malaysia Movement Control Order (MCO), to help them defray the cost of accommodation and other incidental expenses.
- Food & daily essentials reimbursement up to S$200 for employees serving a 14-day stay-home notice and face difficulties in acquiring basic necessities.
Johnson & Johnson says COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for emergency use by early 2021
Johnson & Johnson says it has a lead vaccine candidate to fight the COVID-19 novel coronavirus which could be ready for emergency use by early 2021. With human testing set to begin by September, the health and pharma company says it has struck a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to step up enough manufacturing capacity to create more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine.
Most vaccines take 18-months to be tested, approved and manufactured, but US health authorities have suggested a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use as early as 12-months from development. J&J first said in January that it was working on a novel coronavirus vaccine using similar technologies in its past production of an experimental Ebola virus vaccine.
Meanwhile, J&J also said it was collaborating with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to jointly spend $1 billion on vaccine research, while also separately funding the search for antivirals to treat COVID-19.
Grab leaders take up to 20% pay cut, will help food merchants with their marketing
Southeast Asian ride-hailing and delivery service Grab announced on Monday that its leaders will take a pay cut of up to 20% to help the business and partners ride out the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition, Grab has expanded its COVID-19 financial assistance scheme coverage to include Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines. It had already been available in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The scheme involves payouts to drivers or delivery partners who are hospitalized or quarantined due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Grab also says it's providing a variety of relief measures for GrabFood merchants to help their business during this period. Grab says it will also self-fund, as well as partner with third parties for GrabFood marketing programs for select merchants. More information available here.
Fair Price trials priority shopping for those more vulnerable
Singapore supermarket chain Fair Price launched its first 'priority shopping hour' trial on Monday, (March 30) to more vulnerable community members including the elderly, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and pregnant women can shop for daily necessities under safer distancing conditions.
The initiative will be held every Monday during the first hour of each FairPrice store’s normal operating hours or from 7am to 8am for stores operating 24 hours. , the dedicated hour will be from 7am to 8am.
Meanwhile, in keeping with Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines, FairPrice encouraging customers to practice social distancing through floor markings at checkout queues, in-store posters and announcements. All food sampling has ended at its stores and cleaning regimes have been stepped up, especially for high touch surfaces and staff and suppliers have their temperatures taken at least twice a day.
Fosun sends major medical supply shipment to Portugal
Club Med's parent company Fosun, the owner of multiple global hospitality and pharmaceutical brands, has become the latest Chinese company to make a major donation of medical supplies abroad. Fosun's member companies has sent a chartered flight from Shanghai to Lisbon with 120,00 tons of equipment including more than 40,000 masks, 7,000 protective suits and 20,000 of Fosun's self-developed novel coronavirus nucleic acid detection kits.
Fosun is also currently selling the kits and has been exporting and donating to South Korea, Portugal, Hungary, Germany and Indonesia. Fosun has also partnered with municipal governments and Haitong Bank to send another batch of supplies to the city of Porto.
As of March 29, Portugal has added 792 confirmed cases and a total of 5,962 confirmed cases while in a state of emergency since March 19th. As of March 23, Fosun has deployed and donated a total of 11 batches of medical protection supplies to overseas key countries with rapid epidemic outbreak, such as Italy, Japan, South Korea, India, the UK and France.
Fosun and Portugal have a business history as Fosun acquired Fidelidade, one of Portugal's largest insurance companies in 2014 and extended its business to local banking, medical and other industries. Millennium BCP, the largest listed bank, and Luz Saúde, the largest private medical group, in Portugal are both member companies of Fosun.
Facebook pledges US$100 million in aid for news media
Facebook this week pledged US$100 million in financing and advertising spending to support news organisations that have seen their revenue impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sum includes US$25 million in emergency grant funding for local media, provided through the Facebook Journalism Project, and US$75 million in marketing spend for news organisations globally. It announced the first round of grants last week, when it said that it would be giving $5,000 to 50 local newsrooms across the US and Canada to cover “unexpected costs” associated with covering the outbreak.
The fresh aid is in addition to the $300 million Facebook pledged to spend on news programs, partnerships, and content over the course of three years at the beginning of 2019.
Spotify gives a leg up to music artists
Spotify is banding together with the global music community at a time when many artists have had to cancel tours and festival appearances worldwide. The Spotify Covid-19 Music Relief project has been set up with charity partners Help Musicians and the PRS Foundation, as well as recording academy MusiCares, to fundraise for artists. Spotify will match donations to the relief fund up to a collective total of $10m. A separate feature will also allow fans to directly donate to individual artists through their profile page.
This was launched as part of a wider campaign to address the coronavirus crisis. Spotify has donated to the World Health Organization, launched an information hub providing up-to-date news on the pandemic and made ad space available to governments, non-profits and health-and-safety public-service announcements.
Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons staff to get special bonus
Every corporate restaurant team member in North America working on the Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons brands will receive a special bonus in April, Restaurant Brands International’s (RBI) CEO has confirmed in an open letter.
José Cil said it is to recognise their "tremendous service to guests and communities" since COVID-19 choked the hospitality business.
Uniqlo taps its manufacturers for 10 million surgical masks
Fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo and its parent company Fast Retailing announced on Instagram it is asking its manufacturers to make 10 million surgical masks to be delivered to front line workers worldwide.
A Message to Our UNIQLO Community Our priority during these challenging times is the health and safety of our customers, employees and communities around the world. To help combat the spread of COVID-19, UNIQLO parent company Fast Retailing has enlisted the support of its manufacturing partners to procure 10 million masks that will be donated to high-priority medical facilities worldwide. And our aim is to provide more assistance as specific needs become clear. At this time, we share our deep respect for the many people who are providing care for those affected. We wish you and your family to stay healthy and well. UNIQLO
Last week Uniqlo also announced it is also temporarily closing down its Indonesian stories until April 9th.
Airbnb to pause all marketing amid COVID-19
Trip.com chairman warns against xenophobia outbreak
Jack Ma and Alibaba donate more medical supplies across Asia
The Alibaba Foundation and the Jack Ma Foundation announced donations of medical supplies to seven more countries in Asia over the weekend, namely Azerbaijan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Collectively, these seven countries will receive a total of 1.7 million face masks, 165,000 test kits as well as protective clothing and medical equipment such as ventilators and forehead thermometers.
The first batch of medical supplies for India arrived in Delhi on Saturday evening (March 28) and were received by the Indian Red Cross Society. The donations are expected to reach other countries in the coming days.
With this announcement, the two Foundations have now donated medical supplies to 23 Asian countries totalling 7.4 million masks; 485,000 test kits; 100,000 sets of protective clothing along with other medical equipment. The donation by the two foundations to Vietnam is in addition to the recent donation by Alibaba-owned Lazada Group. More initiatives and donations may be announced in the coming days and weeks.
Ping An donates US$1.5 million worth of COVID-19 medical supplies to Indonesia
Another Chinese brand stepping up to assist Asian markets in Ping An Insurance. The company and its chairman Ma Mingzhe have donated a batch of medical supplies to Indonesia with a total value of US$1.5 million including 10,000 sets of safety goggles, 10,000 sets of COVID-19 diagnostic test kits, 150,000 swab kits, 200 infusion pumps, and 100 patient monitors. Medical technology support includes 1,000 sets of COVID-19 smart image-reading system and 10,000 AskBob medical AI assistants developed by Ping An.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, Ping An has donated more than USD20 million (RMB150 million) of supplies and cash in China and has also provided free insurance protection for frontline medical staff, journalists, police officers and volunteers.
Ping An's subsidiary Ping An Good Doctor has cooperated with 62 provincial, municipal and regional governments to provide real-time online and phone consultations, handling 1.72 billion platform visits since the outbreak. Ping An Good Doctor has co-launched with Grab the online medical service platform "GrabHealth" to provide more than 10,000 daily consultations to help Indonesia in the fight against COVID-19.
Nestlé to pay suspended worker salaries for 3 months, partners with Red Cross
Global packaged food giant Nestlé has agreed to pay in full all hourly and salaried staff affected by temporary stoppages for a minimum of twelve weeks. In a statement the company said it is offering free meals and transport for staff where needed to help reduce the risk they fall ill and will provide cash loans or advances for those in financial distress.
In addition Nestlé announced it is joining forces with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in response to its emergency appeal. Initially, Nestlé will assist the IFRC in four ways:
- Donating food, medical nutrition products and bottled water to bring relief to those most affected by the pandemic.
- Deploying available logistics capacities from our out-of-home business to support the needs of the IFRC in various countries.
- Donating CHF 10 million for immediate deployment in countries where it is most needed.
- Matching 1:1 any donations to the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies or Federation made by employees.
"Now is the time to demonstrate the values of the Nestlé family," said Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem and consequently we are offering help on the ground everywhere, drawing on our extensive presence and experience in 187 countries. In addition, we give our full support to those who are fighting tirelessly against the spread of the virus, every day."
Two major carmakers change their logos
Audi and Volkswagen have temporarily changed their logos to promote social distancing. Audi separated its iconic overlapping four rings while Volkswagen placed the 'V' away from the 'W' in its logo.
In a video message, Volkswagen said "we traditionally stand together in all crises and support each other and that "together we will find new ways and solutions that will enable us to overcome this crisis".
Separately, Volkswagen is among a host of other carmakers that are joining heads to explore 3D printing to produce hospital ventilators. According to a report, governments are enlisting the help of major car manufacturers to speed up production of hospital equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
SPH management takes pay cuts as company donates to Courage Fund
Directors and senior management at Singapore Press Holdings are taking pay cuts in a show of solidarity with the nation amid the COVID-19 outbreak. SPH board members will take a voluntary 10% reduction in directors’ fees while SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung will take a pay cut of 10%. Other senior management staff will see a salary reduction of 5%. The cuts will be effective from April 2020 and will be reviewed at the end of the year.
"The global pandemic has affected our businesses and posed challenges to our stakeholders. We have volunteered the pay cuts to better position ourselves to ride out this difficult time with our stakeholders. This is on top of the assistance measures we have rolled out to our employees affected by the crisis, said Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH. "We will continue to practise prudence for business sustainability and look out for the right opportunities at the appropriate time for long term competitiveness."
At the same time, SPH Foundation will be donating $100,000 to The Courage Fund to help families and individuals affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, SPH REIT has committed to pass on fully the property tax rebate granted by the Singapore Government to tenants adversely impacted by COVID-19. It also says it will continue to provide further rental rebates.
Yum! Brands latest COVID-19 response phase: low-contact customer options and support for employees & franchisees
The parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell has provided an update on the next phase of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the following:
1. Supporting impacted employees: Yum! Brands is launching a global medical relief fund to provide financial support for restaurant employees at company and franchise-owned stores who are diagnosed with or who are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Yum! says it's also actively working with its franchise partners to encourage a similar approach to U.S. company-owned restaurants, where the Company will pay employees who are required to stay at home, or who work at a restaurant that is closed, for their scheduled or regularly scheduled hours during their time away from work.
2. Keeping restaurants open safely with low-contact options: Following local government and public health guidance, Yum! says it has further strengthened its already stringent hygiene, cleaning and sanitation procedures. It has also shifted to low-contact options for customers around the world that includes delivery, drive-thru or curbside pick-up, where available.
Pizza Hut is now offering contactless delivery in the U.S. and 48 countries internationally, where customers can request online or through Pizza Hut’s mobile app to have their pizza left at the door upon delivery.
3. Help for franchisees & communities: Yum! has set up a global franchise health and COVID-19 support team to help KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other franchisees navigate business continuity. Yum! says it's working with global franchisees who need access to more capital and are in good standing to provide assistance, including grace periods for certain near-term payments where necessary.
Globally, the Yum! Foundation is also providing financial support to more than 20 food banks.
“Working together, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 while offering convenient, affordable food in a low contact environment,” said David Gibbs, CEO Yum! Brands. “But our employees – like millions of others – are worried and our franchisees are under stress. We need to support them so they can be there for our customers. As the situation changes rapidly, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill will keep finding ways to help.”
BBC donates advertising space to global health bodies
BBC Global News, the BBC’s international news, sport and features division, is freeing up as much as 20% of its advertising inventory for use by international health and government organisations wanting to promote public-health messages around Covid-19.
Organisations and health ministries have been told that they can contact the BBC's commercial ad team via email for opportunities to have their ads carried for free on BBC World News and BBC.com, both of which are operated by BBC Global News.
Last week (16-22 March), a record 60 million people used BBC online services – a 50% increase on the weekly average. Of that figure, more than 80% were specifically consuming coronavirus coverage.
In 2019, an average of 121 million people used the BBC World News channel and BBC.com each week.
Jim Egan, BBC Global News chief executive, said: "Our job is to report on the developing crisis around the world in a period when people need news they can genuinely trust. But if we can support public-health agencies in doing their job in these unprecedented times, I feel we have a responsibility to help."
Prudential offers free COVID-19 protection for up to 300,000 Hong Kong residents
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prudential Hong Kong is providing free COVID-19 protection for Hong Kong residents. From now until 24 April 2020 (subject to a quota of 300,000, on a first-come-first-served basis), all Hong Kong identity card holders aged 18 or above and residing in Hong Kong can get this coverage, but they need to download Prudential's Pulse app and register their profiles.
The coverage includes:
Gojek CEOs and senior managers to donate 25% of salaries to drivers and other partners
Gojek’s co-CEOs announced the creation of a fund to support drivers, merchants and other partners whose income has been adversely affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of thousands of drivers and merchants are seeing a drop in their income as people follow the advice of health officials and choose to work from home and limit their movement. The support fund is being introduced to ensure they can continue to support their families while they wait for the current situation to abate.
The Gojek Partner Support Fund
will be administered through a newly created foundation, the Anak
Bangsa Bisa Foundation. The foundation intends
to work with multiple stakeholders including government, civil society groups and driver groups to determine the best way to administer the support fund, with the priority of supplementing drivers’ and other partners’ income through this period of uncertainty.
Funding will come from three sources:
- Gojek co-CEOs along with Gojek’s senior management team, will donate 25% of their annual salary over the next 12 months
- Gojek’s annual salary increase budget will be redirected to the support fund, and
- A process will be set up through which donations can be made by others, particularly corporate partners.
“At Gojek, the pandemic has prompted us to work from home, forced us to conduct business differently, and disrupted our regular working rhythm," co-CEOs Andre Soelistyo and Kevin Aluwi said in a joint statement. "But our problems pale in comparison to the hardships the coronavirus is likely to place on our driver partners, whose livelihoods depend on an economy that is experiencing a significant slowdown."
The fund will support drivers who are the lifeblood of Gojek's business and a vital part of how cities will cope under reduced movement, the co-CEOs said.
Kopiko keeps the coffee (and water) flowing in the Philippines
Even heroes need caffeine, and coffee brand Kopiko has been working to provide it to Filipinos working on the 'front lines' in the battle against COVID-19. The brand has provided products to cover six hospitals, 1,500 health workers, and 25,000 military personnel during the first week of the community quarantine in Metro Manila.
As soon as the government announced the Enhanced Community Quarantine on March 16, Kopiko worked with Frontline Feeders PH, a group mobilising food distribution, to dispatch Le Minerale bottled water and Kopiko Iced ready-to-drink coffee. The brand also partnered with the Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed) Foundation for the donation of coffee and bottled water to 25,000 police and military personnel.
Kopiko also implemented work-from-home arrangements except for a skeletal force in place to oversee stocks and make sure deliveries continue, and took steps to make sure employees are well-compensated to tide them over the quarantine period. It disbursed full company benefits to employees including safety kits, health allowances, quarantine assistance, medical insurance, 13th month salaries, and early release of performance bonuses. IN addition the company paid pro-rated 13th month salaries to contractors.
Diageo pledges 2 million litres of alcohol for sanitiser
Diageo has promised to help deliver more than 8 million bottles of sanitiser for frontline healthcare workers in the UK, Ireland, Italy, the USA, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.
The company will donate up to 2 million litres of grain neutral spirit (GNS), a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in the production of vodka and gin, to hand sanitiser producers in the named countries to help overcome shortages. The donation will enable the production of more than 8 million 250 ml bottles of hand sanitiser, according to the brand.
In India, the company will provide 500,000 litres of alcohol to the sanitiser industry across 25 states, for use in national healthcare systems and for consumers.
In Australia, Diageo’s Bundaberg Distilling will produce 100,000 litres of ethanol for the Queensland government, to be forwarded to hand sanitiser manufacturers.
AIA Singapore and Ogilvy work on special protection and reassurance for customers
AIA Singapore and Ogilvy have worked together on several initiatives in response to the current COVID-19 situation. This includes the introduction of special coverage by AIA with additional protection and reassurance to Singaporeans against COVID-19. The insurer is offering free COVID-19 coverage for 1.4 million customers and employees.
AIA has put out a video on YouTube and Facebook (above) from AIA Singapore’s Medical Director, Dr Alan Ong with key tips on staying safe and what to watch out for to guard against COVID-19 at this time.
SPH REIT rolls out tenants’ assistance, new incentives to help Singapore retailers
SPH REIT, which manages a portfolio of retail real estate, is rolling out a scheme to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on its Singapore tenants. The tailored relief plans for each tenant will be in addition to the 15% property tax rebate announced in Singapore Budget 2020, which SPH REIT is passing on to qualifying tenants.
SPH REIT also says it will launch other initiatives to encourage shoppers to visit its malls next month, including complimentary parking along with preferential rates and waivers for use of atriums or common areas to drive footfall and sales.
SPH REIT, with guidance from authorities have stepped up precautionary measures to guard against the spread of COVID-19, including intensifying the cleaning and disinfecting of its malls, especially at high human traffic contact points such as toilets, lifts, refuse bins and hand rails.
Carousell encourages Singaporeans not to hoard, but #Choose to Give
Singapore-based online classified Carousell is attempting to rally the local community in response to some of the chaotic panic-buying and hoarding of goods during the coronavirus crisis. Carousell's #ChooseToGive initiative urges its users to give freely instead of hoarding by highlighting the stories of Singaporeans who have gone the extra mile, including Jena Lim, a single mom who pioneered free giving on Carousell. See video below.
FedEx completes eighth supply shipment to China
FedEx has provided updated figures on how it has donated use of its global transportation network and logistics resources to deliver urgently needed medical supplies to China.
Up to February 20, FedEx says it has delivered eight shipments consisting of 197 pallets of humanitarian aid to China including 557,560 N95 masks, 232,450 surgical masks, and more than 460,000 medical supplies. The aid materials, it says, have reached hospitals and local governments via Hubei Charity Federation, Chinese Red Cross Foundation and Chongqing Charity Federation.
Air New Zealand cuts flights to Seoul, follows Qantas in cutting flights cutting profit outlook
Air New Zealand today became the latest airline to provide guidance around the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, predicting a NZD$35 million to $75 million (USD$22 million to $47 million) hit to earnings. The airline will use a midpoint estimate of NZD$55 million in its forecasting ahead of 2020 interim results coming this Thursday.
The carrier also announced it is temporarily suspending its services to Seoul from March 7th until the end of June in addition to previously announced cuts to Asia routes, predominantly Shanghai and Hong Kong. From February to June, it's total Asia capacity will be cut by 17%.
The update followed a similar update from Australian airline Qantas last week, which said it's capacity to Asia was cut by 16% with flights to Shanghai suspended and flights to Singapore and Hong Kong reduced. Jetstar was cutting capacity to Asia by 14%. Qantas said COVID-19 is expected to impact earnings by up to AUD$150 million (US$100 million).
Mediacorp celebrities see "The Light," break out in song to lift morale
To fight the malaise and lift spirits in combatting COVID-19, Mediacorp has helped produce a special song called "The Light" to rally Singaporeans and cheer on frontline heroes. Written by Mediacorp's singing reality show (SPOP) champion Jarrell Huang and artist JJ Neo along with other celebrities, the song will be available across all Mediacorp platforms including YouTube, Facebook and meLISTEN.
Huang and Neo put the melody and lyrics together in just three days. “The current COVID-19 situation inspired me to create a song that can offer positivity to Singaporeans," Huang said in a release.
“The idea for the song came about when I was personally feeling unsettled and overwhelmed by the current COVID-19 situation," added Neo. "However, coming together with the team to complete the song took away so much anxiety, proving that mutual support and care can take us through any situation."
Coca-Cola says COVID-19 will slow Q1 earnings, committed to China market
Coca-Cola company updated investors over the weekend, saying first-quarter earnings could drop by 1 or 2 cents per share due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Unit volume could drop 2% to 3% and organic revenue may slip 1% to 2%. But Coke still expects to meet its full-year targets and says it still sees "great opportunities" in China, it's third largest market, where it will continue to invest long-term.
"The company’s deepest sympathies go out to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company is carefully following all government guidelines and taking precautionary steps to do what it can to prevent the further spread of the virus. The company is also donating to organizations that are working diligently to support patients and contain the virus.
The safety and health of the company’s associates remains a high priority. The company has implemented precautionary measures to protect employees in China, which includes providing face masks and hand sanitizers; installing temperature screening in offices and manufacturing facilities; and setting up health monitoring mechanisms across the Coca-Cola system in China."
Avo Insurance launches coronavirus protection, free for hospital staff in Hong Kong
Virtual insurance provider has launched a new Coronavirus Disease Protection plan in Hong Kong to protect "from any unforeseen circumstances associated with the COVID-19 outbreak." To show gratitude to healthcare professionals, it's offering the protection free to eligible hospital staff in Hong Kong with a 45 day coverage period. The protection will also be added-in complimentary to holders of other certain policies.
“In light of the current situation, we believe that every little bit counts and we are responsible to do our part in contributing back to the healthcare community,” Winnie Wong, CEO of of Avo Insurance said in a release.
Avo says it is also adapting its offerings to fit the current circumstances, like changing its flexibility on travel protection allowing policyholders to rearrange travel schedules and offering an eWallet protection for stay-at-home online shoppers against identity theft and unauthorized transactions.
OYO hotel chain sets up funds in China and SEA
With a qualified medical doctor as its CEO for Southeast Asia, Japan and the Middle East and the hospitality industry reeling, OYO is stepping up its contribution to fight the COVID-19 crisis. After creating a dedicated fund of RMB 1 million (US$715K) in China to support infected employees and their family members, the hotel chain announced a further US$200K fund to assist partners and families affected across Southeast Asia.
The CEO and other members of the OYO leadership team for Southeast Asia have also pledged to donate a portion of their salaries for February 2020 to the fund. The hotel chain will also distribute masks, disinfectants, sanitisers etc. to all its guests at all its properties across Southeast Asia to combat the further spread of the pandemic.
In a note to partners in Southeast Asia, Vaidya said, “OYO is deeply concerned at the spread of Covid-19 and the impact it has on people and businesses in Southeast Asia. The hospitality industry has been impacted and we are also concerned with the impact COVID-19 has on our partners as they come to grips with the current situation. Our responsibility as #TeamOYOSEA compels us to come out in full support of everyone connected to OYO as we navigate through this difficult phase.”
Badge-in to support Singapore health care workers
This initiative is not exactly brand-side but nonetheless fits with other COVID-19 anti-stigma initiatives in this roundup. 72andSunny didn't wait for a client partner before showing its own agency-brand support for healthcare workers in Singapore. In a pro bono campaign, it designed and produced icons with surgical masks shaped like hearts with messages like ‘Majulah Medics’, ‘Nurses are the Nicest’ and ‘Tok Kong Doctors'. These take the form of pin badges and stickers - both physical and digital.
The physical badges and stickers are available while supplies last at local business partner locations:
- Lucha Loco (15 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089598)
- Kilo Kitchen ( 97 Duxton Rd, Singapore 089541)
- nana & bird (1M Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641)
- Plain Vanilla Bakery (134 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068600)
Skechers donates cash and supplies
Outdoor wear brand Skechers China has announced it's donating RMB 5 million (US$714 million) in cash to the China Charity Federation towards COVID-19 prevention and relief. Over the weekend, it sent a shipment of 10,000 units (shoes and warm down jackets) worth another RMB 5 million to the Command Center for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control in the Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone to distribute to 7,700 workers across local hospitals.
Skechers says the donation was made possible by its own 'anti-epidemic' committee, in charge of coordinating both employee safety and COVID-19 releated aid and charity. More than 2,5000 Skechers staff have voluntarily donated RMB 2.23 million, including RMB 1 million from Willie Tan, CEO of Skechers China.
Western Union launches fundraising campaign
Western Union launced a global fundraising campaign to support coronavirus relief in China and other regions as the virus continues to spread. The company is pledging to match donations from the public, Western Union customers and employees up to $500,000, for a combined $1 million. These funds will go toward frontline medical treatment and the purchase of supplies and equipment.
Western Union, headquartered in the US, will promote the campaign globally with paid and organic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn postings to drive awareness of the fundraiser as well as compassion for those with the virus.
Digital ads simply state, "Behind Every Mask, There’s a Heart." The public can donate via the Western Union app, starting March 1 through April 14. Two beneficiaries of the campaign are Give2Asia and International Medical Corps. Western Union is pledging to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to direct aid.
Prudential video counters COVID-19 discrimination, asks Singaporeans to #DOgood
Prudential Singapore has teamed up with VaynerMedia to launch a new video in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The short film aims to counter some of the negative news surrounding the outbreak including the spreading of false rumours and discrimination against health care workers, by highlighting real acts of sacrifice and kindness during the outbreak.
One scene shows a man anonymously donating masks at a police station in Anhui, China. Another shows family urging support for those in Wuhan to 'stay strong'. In Singapore, scenes of hoarding food and supplies are countered by classified ads offering free masks and other goods.
VaynerMedia says the ad has no commercial intent but is solely meant to spread Prudential's message of doing good. It adds that like other companies (see Great Eastern below) Prudential will also assist ComChest by driving donations to The Courage Fund to help those affected by COVID-19.
Gojek launches GoHeroes
Gojek Singapore has launched a new initiative called GoHeroes in light of COVID-19. It's an initiative to support frontline healthcare workers and medical professionals with help from their driver-partners too.
Gojek is partnering with all the public acute hospitals in Singapore to provide Gojek ride vouchers worth $10 each, which they can distribute to their staff over the next three months. GoJek's driver-partners have pledged their commitment to ensure that healthcare workers can continue to travel to and from their workplaces safely.
On a related note, Gojek says its driver-partners can receive an income support of up to $20 daily, a one-for-one matching of the government’s contribution, which can hopefully provide some relief to private-hire drivers affected by the situation.
Gojek also pointed to measures included in its driver benefits programme GoalBetter:
Should drivers be served a quarantine order (QO) related to COVID-19, our driver-partners can continue to enjoy Prolonged Medical Leave insurance coverage of up to about $1,000 for a 14-day quarantine period, or more if they are quarantined for more than 14 days. Driver-partners on GoFleet (our vehicle rental programme) will also have their vehicle rental waived should they be served a QO. In addition, we will also provide a one-off $100 allowance to support driver-partners.
In addition, Gojek has pointed out the measures being taken with guidance from authorities to maintain the safety and well-being of our driver-partners and commuters. These included:
- temperature monitoring and contact tracing
- distributing surgical masks, hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes to driver-partners
- educational outreach to driver-partners and commuters on precautions such as increasing ventilation of the car by not using the recirculation mode of the car’s air-conditioning system
- observing good hygiene practices like regularly sanitising high-human contact points such as door handles and seats
- washing one's hands with soap regularly.
Chinese on-demand service brand Meituan waives commissions, urges safe biking
Reuters reports that Meituan Dianping, China’s giant on-demand service company is waiving commission fees for local businesses like restaurants, hair salons and pet stores throughout China in February, to help businesses cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
The news service had reported earlier that Meituan was among 300 prospective Chinese companies applying for bank loan relief to help mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. Meituan Dianping has also been promoting its contactless food-delivery service across China.
As reported by TechNode, bike-sharing service Meituan Bike (formerly Mobike) is urging its riders to take precautions when using their bikes. It's asking riders to wear a mask and gloves to avoid contacting bikes, to keep a safe distance from others and to disinfect their bikes afterwards.
According to the report, Meituan Bike says it has been spraying disinfectant on all bikes, even those belonging to other bike-sharing companies.
SPH Chinese Media Group live telecast raises S$188,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts
Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group (CMG) has raised $188,000 from online donations and cheques in the week after the telecast of a live show on 9 February to show appreciation to medical workers and others on the frontline of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
SPH, the parent company of CMG, donated $15,000. All funds raised at the event will go to the 2019 novel coronavirus response by Singapore Red Cross to support relief efforts in China.
The two-hour long live show produced by CMG was held at SPH News Centre lobby on February 9th. The show recorded a viewership of more than 212,000 on CMG’s digital and social media platforms, as well as 1 million viewership on China’s video portal Pomoho.
Other than the live show, CMG also recently produced a series of videos on the COVID-19 outbreak in five different Chinese dialects -- Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese and Hakka, to help the elderly in Singapore to better understand the situation. These videos are available on zaobao.sg.
Chinese smartphone makers scramble to reset product launches after MWC cancellation
The COVID-19-related cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, originally set to run from February 24 to 27, is causing Chinese smartphone makers to rework their product launches. Many new devices were set to make their global debuts in Barcelona.
Xiaomi originally planned to launch its new Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro flagship smartphone globally in Barcelona. While that will now change, it nonetheless went ahead with its Chinese launch last Friday. A new worldwide release date is expected to be announced soon.
Oppo, meanwhile, is rescheduling reschedule the launch of its Find X2 smartphone until March, according to Android Authority. The same source reports that Shenzhen-based Realme, set to hold its “first global launch event” for the X50 Pro 5G and a TV at MWC on February 24th, is going ahead with that date, but now a launch event in Madrid that will be streamed globally online.
Vivo, which was set to launch a new concept phone at MWC called the Apex 2020, told TechRadar that it would introduce the device "soon" but did not elaborate whether it would hold an event or launch online.
Huawei was set to unveil an improved version of its foldable Mate X. According to Abacus, Huawei says it plans to communicate with its customers through online and regional events.
Great Eastern sets aside S$1million for its customers, pleges S$200K to help those affected
OCBC's insurance subsidiary Great Eastern is contributing S$200,000 to provide financial assistance to those in Singapore affected by COVID-19 through the Courage Fund. The Fund, facilitated by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and Community Chest, aims to support patients, healthcare workers and members of the community affected by serious infectious diseases.
Great Eastern is also setting aside S$1 million to support its customers in Singapore. Effective 14 February 2020 until end-2020, Great Eastern customers and/or their immediate family members* who are hospitalised due to COVID-19, will receive a cash benefit of S$200 per day of hospitalisation up to a maximum of 60 days. In the unfortunate event that death occurs, a S$20,000 lump sum will be paid out.
For its travel insurance customers, the company is also offering a full premium refund for those who have purchased policies from 6 February to 30 June 2020 should they decide to cancel their plans.
Alibaba announces 20 measures to help merchants cope with crisis
With many Chinese companies beginning to resume operations after the Spring Festival holiday, the new challenges due to quarantine and travel restrictions are obvious. In an open letter, Alibaba Groupand Ant Financial have said "this is the time when millions and millions of consumers need our services," and the economic battle must continue alongside the fight against the virus.
To back this up, Alibaba has announced 20 measures to help businesses and merchants in China under the following goals:
Reduce operational cost on our platforms
1. All Tmall merchants can have the platform service fees for the first half of 2020 waived.
2. All merchants on Taobao and Tmall will receive a free subscription to “Wangpu,”
an essential online tool kit to revamp your online storefront.
3. Hubei-registered Tmall merchants who have been working with “Star Tmall Partner (TP)”, quality store operation services providers identified by Tmall, can receive free services for three months.
4. Cainiao will waive the warehouse rental fee for two months for new merchants who start to use Cainiao’s warehouses before March 31.
5. Koubei will waive commissions for all participating merchants until February 29, 2020. The waiver will extend to March 31, 2020 for those based in Wuhan.
Provide financial support by waiving or lowering interest rates
6. MYbank, an online bank brand under Ant Financial, will provide 12-month loans totalling RMB 10 billion to online merchants from Hubei Province registered on Taobao and Tmall. These loans are interest-free for the first three months, and rates will be lowered by 20% from the current level for the remaining nine months.
7. MYBank will also provide 12-month loans totalling RMB 10 billion to Taobao and Tmall merchants from outside Hubei, with interest rates also lowered by 20%.
8. To help ease cashflow pressures for qualified merchants on Tmall and Taobao, MYbank will issue payments to them as soon as an order has been fulfilled. The service, which typically incurs a charge, will be provided free up till March 31. Normally, merchants would only receive payment after customers confirm they've received the shipped items.
9. Ele.me and Koubei will earmark a special support fund totaling RMB1 billion to select nationwide chain restaurant operators.
Subsidize delivery personnel and ensure higher logistics efficiency
10. Taobao, Tmall and Cainao have co-launched a RMB1 billion fund to support the supply chain and logistics service.
11. Compensation will be provided to couriers includes extra allowance for order pickup and free insurance. Cainiao will also waive the technology service fee charged to the companies that are using the Cainiao Guoguo app.
12. For virus-prevention products delivered through Cainiao’s warehouses nationally, Cainiao will waive the warehouse rental fee in February and the pick-up cost of line-haul logistics from the merchants to Cainiao’s warehouses.
13. To minimize the impact on cross-border merchants, subsidies for first-mile and line-haul logistics as well as custom clearance will be provided.
Provide flexible job opportunities to ensure income
14. Freshippo and those in the numerous sectors, including dining, hospitality, movie theaters and department stores, have launched an employee-sharing scheme by allowing employees in those sectors to temporarily work at a Freshippo store. This schedule is expected to expand into other sectors.
15. Ele.me and Koubei have launched “Blue Ocean,” an employee-sharing scheme
that allows workers from various restaurants to temporarily work as couriers or convenience store clerks.
More tools for enterprises to accelerate their digitization
16. All offline store operators can join Taobao Livestream barrier-free and can use its operational tools free of charge.
17. Taobao University is offering multiple free online courses to help online store operators.
18. Cainiao will offer various digital solutions and proprietary services for free, including its Smart Supply Chain solution.
Remote working management for enterprises
19. Dingtalk is offering its “Work from Home” function free of charge. The function incorporates features to allow up to 302 participants to join the same video conference, and to provide a daily health check reporting system for employees, “contactless” inspection and an AI-powered “Virus Prevention” robot.
20. Alibaba Cloud has worked with Alipay to roll out seven major deals for developers, including a cash offering up to RMB500,000 to outstanding developers, free use of various cloud-computing resources, templates for mini-apps and data-visualization tools for three months.
Deliveroo offers commission relief in Hong Kong
The company announced an "effective 15-20% discount in commission fees" to restaurants to support them as the number of dine-in customers falls. In addition, the company will offer a “commission payment delay” scheme for qualifying exclusive partners, which enables select restaurants to delay paying commission for four weeks or more.
The delivery service called on other platforms in the sector to follow suit.
Activewear brands like Vans & Nike provide updates on impact
VF Corp, the company behind family activewear brands like Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Dickies provided an update on coronavirus impact in China over the weekend, noting about 60% of their retail stores in China have been temporarily closed due to coronavirus mitigation efforts. Stores remaining open have experienced significant declines in retail traffic.
Mainland China represents only 6% of VF's revenue, adding "while it is not possible to gauge the impact to our supply chain at this point, approximately 16% of VF’s total cost of goods sold is sourced directly from mainland China."
VF says it will provide updated figures on the business impact during the next quarterly financial update in May.
The announcement was similar to one earlier in the week from Nike, which noted approximately half of Nike-owned stores have been temporarily closed, while those remaining open "are operating with reduced hours and experiencing lower than planned retail traffic."
"In the short term, we expect the situation to have a material impact on our operations in Greater China," the company said. It added, “despite this difficult situation, NIKE’s long-term opportunity to continue to serve consumers in Greater China with inspiration and innovation remains exceedingly strong. The brand promised an update in its Q3 earnings call.
Nintendo warns of production delays for Switch
Japanese electronic game maker Nintendo has warned to expect production and shipment delays for devices such as Nintendo Switch and Joy Con that are made in China for the Japanese domestic market.
Nintendo says it will work hard to deliver the product as soon as possible, while keeping an eye on the effects of the new coronavirus infections.
ZTE and China Telecom partner on 5G technology to remotely diagnose coronavirus patients in China
Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE says it teamed up with China Telecom to form China's first 5G remote diagnosis facility for new coronavirus pneumonia at West China Hospital involving Chengdu Public Health Clinic Center of Sichuan University.
The conference room for remote diagnosis and treatment in West China Hospital was first set up in late January after ZTE completed construction and testing. This facility "as the central node" will be able to access 27 hospitals that have accepted and treated patients.
ZTE says this remote diagnosis facility will first cover Sichuan province, city, and county and "in the future, ZTE will carry out video consultation with the Wuhan front-end medical rescue team through the 5G network, so that critical patients in Wuhan can also enjoy expert diagnosis and treatment services [from] West China Hospital."
Last week ZTE announced the cancellation of its press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona due to issues related to the coronavirus crisis.
Chinese tech and ecommerce brands step up aid
A growing number of ecommerce, media and technology companies in China have already stepped forward to support the fight against the deadly outbreak. Alibaba, JD.com, Tencent and Xiaomi are among the many early donors of medical supplies and logistics.
At the start of of the Lunar New Year holiday, online retailer JD.com (Jingdong) is reported to have pledged 1 million medical masks and 60,000 medical supplies to Wuhan, in batches. Xiaomi followed, pledging 300,000 masks with thermometers.
Alibaba has pledged 1 billion RMB in direct aid, (a Publicis Media, below, says 10 billion RMB total in donations, rebates and logistical assistance). According to Alizila, by February 3 Alibaba had delivered medical supplies, including self-purchased and donated goods, from 15 countries and regions to 18 hospitals in Hubei, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
Alibaba Group has also launched the Alibaba Global Direct Sourcing Platform, aiming to speed medical supplies directly to areas in China hard-hit by the virus. According to the Alizila blog, the platform serves as an information bridge, matching sellers of medical supplies and their products with the needs of affected hospitals and local authorities.
"Items sourced through the platform will head to hospitals based on level of urgency and priority, entering the Green Channel established by Alibaba’s logistics unit, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, with industry partners to expedite shipping, handling, customs clearance and delivery," Alizila said.
In an open letter to suppliers around the world, Alibaba pledged that information on the sourcing platform would be accurate, transparent, promptly and efficient. “This is our pledge: No matter where your goods are, we will deliver them to frontline medical personnel in the fastest and safest ways,” Alibaba said in the letter.
“The battle against the virus is at a crucial stage. Our goal is to connect the global supply chain with those in need of supplies in a more expedited and efficient way. With your trust and effort, together, we will overcome this crisis.”
At the start of the lunar new year holiday, Tencent's Charity Foundation pledged 300 million RMB for direct aid, "including the purchase of materials such as masks, disinfectants, goggles, and help for front-line medical staff." Tencent's WeChat instant messaging app has also launched an outpatient clinic map to help WeChat users locate the nearest clinic.
Douyin focuses on information sharing & encouragement
Douyin (TikTok), meanwhile is encouraging information sharing through its platform about the virus, both through messages of support to frontline workers and through a special page documenting the spread of the virus.
The Chinese TikTok app (Douyin) also has has a Jiayou video effect (that signals encouragement) that people are using to leave positive messages in support of doctors, medical staff and patients. https://t.co/zNJRnqhkBm— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) January 23, 2020
Lazada connects customers to infectious disease specialist, addresses delivery concerns
Recognising that customers were concerned with issues around receiving goods from China, on January 30, Lazada engaged Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist based in Singapore, who had fought SARS previously. Using Lazada’s in-app live-streaming technology (LazLive), over 21,000 viewers were connected to Dr Leong to raise questions pertaining to the coronavirus from the safety of their homes.
Some of the questions included whether there could be a potential spread of the disease for parcels that are ordered from China, to which Lazada says Dr Leong debunked some myths, stressing that all goods shipped from China are safe. But to further address the concern, Lazada says it ensures that all logistics staff undergo daily temperature checks and sanitisation before they handle packages. Lazada says its couriers also strictly adhere to hygiene protocols before and after each delivery.
P&G marketer: Let's recognise China's sacrifices
In a LinkedIn post, P&G fabric care's brand-building communications lead, Dominique Touchaud, noted "the response to the coronavirus crisis by Chinese authorities has been unprecedented. Politics aside, it carries many individual sacrifices that we cannot see and which are easy to forget in our fingerpointing ways."
Cathay marketer connects air travellers with IATA medical specialist on wearing masks and flight safety
Careful not to make a call on travel-safety himself, Cathay Pacific CMO Ed Bell is encouraging would-be travellers to listen to IATA's medical advisor on the safety of air travel and to understand why masks are not the answer to coronavirus protection during flights.