Activation Gallery: Signs of Change

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Activation Gallery: Signs of Change

By Path to Purchase Institute Staff - 08/10/2020

With retail having been disrupted in recent months due to the global pandemic as well as civil unrest over social inequities, brands and retailers are adapting their messaging in various ways. Here, Path to Purchase Institute editors showcase notable efforts that have caught their attention. Institute members can see many more examples of how brand and retailer marketing has changed with the times in the image vault at

  • Procter & Gamble brought together some personal care and household products from brands including Febreze, Puffs, Crest, Tide, Downy, Swiffer and Pantene in a e-commerce shop promising consumers “one less thing to worry about.” A home page carousel ad spotted in June linked to the shop, which carried this description: “Let’s face it – this year has been crazy. So we’re refocusing on what’s essential: our families, our homes, our collective sense of normalcy. No matter how uncertain life feels … we’re helping homes run like normal. (Well, as normal as possible.)”
  • Amid the social unrest following the death of George Floyd, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats’ Aunt Jemima and Mars Inc.’s Uncle Ben’s were among brands facing pressure to change their brand identity. Both addressed the issues on their websites and on social media, letting consumers know that name changes are coming.
  • After pausing all paid social media advertising in July, Albertsons Cos. chains tied in to the unofficial designation of July 7 as “Blackout Day” by spotlighting two Black-owned brands, McBride Sisters wine and Andy’s Seasoning, on chain websites. The former is a female-owned wine company with collections named “Black Girl Magic” and “She Can” (canned wine). For the entire day, most of Albertsons’ chains ran a “Show Solidarity” home page leaderboard ad with a black background on their websites – with social media updates directing to a dedicated web page sharing both brands’ stories and linking to respective brand websites to “Learn More.” Blackout Day is an initiative launched in 2015 to shed light on the economic contributions of Black consumers in the U.S. and abroad by encouraging all spending to be directed to Black-owned businesses.


  • Walmart has partnered with Hallmark Cards’ Crayola to exclusively sell 32-packs of crayons that include 24 “Colors of the World” representing global skin tones, as well as four crayons each representing hair and eye colors. The colors are designed to mirror and promote the growing diversity in the world. The pack sold out via online pre-orders before it even hit stores for back-to-school season in July. Crayola also rolled out a 24-pack containing just the skin colors.
  • PetSmart’s Chewy subsidiary began using a “Healthy at Home” theme in March to provide advice to help people and their pets adjust to new routines imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The message appeared in posts on the retailer’s “Pet Central” blog and social media updates. As restrictions began to lift, the retailer used a “Step Outside & Stay Healthy” message to provide advice on socially distanced outings with pets along with more traditional tips about sun protection.
  • Georgia-Pacific’s Angel Soft promoted its million-dollar pledge to assist families financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis with a showcase. The brand also promised another $1 million to match consumer donations in partnership with #GiveTogetherNow, a collaborative fundraising effort between Family Independence Initiative and Stand Together. All donations were slated for eligible households, which received a one-time cash donation of $500. A display ad running on Walmart’s website in July linked to the showcase. Both the ad and showcase employed a “Soft hearts, strong actions” message along with a rainbow image that also loosely linked the effort to Pride Month.
  • In partnership with Black Lives Matter, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay’s Doritos is giving its outdoor advertising, billboards and murals to Black artists as a way to illustrate and elevate Black voices, particularly in areas “symbolic of the movement” such as Minneapolis; Washington, D.C.; New York; and Atlanta. The #AmplifyBlackVoices campaign kicked off after the brand remained silent for most of June following the #BlackoutTuesday social movement that followed the death of George Floyd by airing a TV spot during the BET Awards show featuring Devin Marie’s song, “I Can’t Breathe,” which went went viral amid the protests.
  • ShopRite joined with Procter & Gamble to run a “Virtual Guest Teacher” series with sports marketing company ProCamps to enrich distance learning programs. Consumers could watch the Facebook Live events and submit questions to professional athletes including U.S. Soccer defender Christie Pearce Rampone and shortstop Didi Gregorius of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Coca-Cola Co. collaborated with “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and World Central Kitchen (WCK) founder, chef and humanitarian Jose Andres ahead of the July 3 premiere of the Broadway smash on Disney Plus. The filmed version of the musical was presented on the network to fight food insecurity, with a focus on diverse communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and ongoing social injustice. Coke made a $1 million donation to WCK to serve 100,000 meals in the U.S. and Mexico, and to help approximately 150 local restaurants in communities hit hardest by COVID-19 to rehire up to 1,400 employees. A video posted to shows a conversation between Miranda and Andres – two real-life friends – discussing how COVID-19 has affected food insecurity. A July 2 email blast from Coke plugged the effort. An earlier email on June 22 also invited consumers to give their favorite restaurant some social media love using #WeLoveThisPlace and tagging Coca-Cola. The beverage maker also pledged 10 cents to Feeding America (up to $500,000) for every order placed within the Uber Eats app from June 1-28 at participating restaurants.
  • In partnership with Conde Nast’s Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Amazon launched a storefront selling high-end U.S.-made clothing to help workers in the fashion industry who have lost business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed Common Threads, the store stocks luxury items priced at hundreds of dollars that are organized by specific designers as well as by trends such as “at-home style,” “summer vibes” and “la vie boheme.”
  • Meijer and American Greetings teamed up to offer free digital postcards consumers could use to send encouraging messages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates posted on the retailer’s Facebook page on June 8 and 15 linked to a web page within hosting dozens of customizable cards to help consumers “stay social while social distancing.”
  • Skyy Vodka combined messaging focused on Pride Month and the Black Lives Matter movement in a series of Facebook updates soliciting donations to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for Black transgender people. Other updates touted the brand’s sponsorship of NYC Pride and pledged a $100,000 donation to Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit focused on challenging racial and economic injustice.
  • A web page within Kroger’s Harris Teeter provided tips for preparing for virtual get-togethers from Procter & Gamble. The page gave socially distancing consumers suggestions for cleaning and personal style incorporating brands including Tide, Bounty and Olay. A June 12 Facebook update linked to the page.