Brands and Marketers are Stepping Up for the Ukraine

In an effort to help the people of the Ukraine, the EGC Group is collecting items ranging from medical supplies to personal hygiene products, among others, to be donated to the Ukraine at the end of March.

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Coverage of Russia’s onslaught in the Ukraine continues to dominate the news. Organizations and private citizens throughout the world continue to donate money and whatever resources possible. Where the marketing sector is concerned, efforts continue to be made to help examine issues that include misinformation as well as the decisions by some brands to sever ties with Russia, among other steps.

The use and misuse of social media and the Internet

Last week, reports emerged of how social media was being used as a form of warfare by Russian cybercriminals who had hacked into the private accounts of important leaders in the Ukraine. Everything from misinformation concerning reports from the front to staged videos of Ukrainian fighters declaring surrender were appearing everywhere. Then, Meta—parent company to Facebook—Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms stepped in to halt and shut down this malicious activity. 

Actions over words

A recent article in The New York Times noted that advertising trade group, 4A’s, held a 100-person conference call late last week to address many of the concerns surrounding the truthfulness of information that was being relayed to the world about the war between Russian and the Ukraine. Action, rather than words, is top-of-mind. As Marla Kaplowitz, chief executive of 4A’s told reporter Tiffany Hsu: “The whole world is reacting in a different way, rallying around Ukraine — it’s not enough to just say something, you actually have to do something.” And some more well-known brands are taking action to show solidarity with the Ukraine by giving up their business ties to Russia.

Brands withdrawing from Russia

In a list compiled by the staff writers at Ad Age, here are a few of the brands that have either limited or completely dissolved their dealings and transactions with Russia:

  • Amazon
  • Discovery
  • L’Oreal
  • McDonald’s
  • Coca-Cola
  • Starbucks
  • Estee Lauder
  • Unilever
  • Procter & Gamble Co.
  • Netflix

Burger King, the Ad Age report noted, is redirecting profits earned in its Russia-based locations to support Ukrainian refugees.

This list in Ad Age, incidentally, is being updated regularly. One of the more recent brands included was John Deere, the well-known manufacturer of tractors. Farmers in the Ukraine have been using this brand’s tractors to commandeer tanks from Russian invaders.

Another type of commandeering has been taking place—online.

Posting to the Internet for the greater good

In what may be called an antidote to Russia’s covert misuse of the Internet described earlier, clever application of a specific online marketing tool is being used to benefit the Ukraine.

In the New York Times article cited above, Tiffany Hsu detailed efforts by Rob Blackie, a digital strategist based in the United Kingdom, whose goal has been to make Russians view impartial news regarding the invasion in the Ukraine. How has he accomplished this—without alerting Russian censors? By digital advertising. Mr. Blackie and some volunteers purchased automated technology that had the capability to slip this special digital advertising past regulated filters of the Russian government—and display it to the people. Once this step proved successful, the ads created by Mr. Blackie and company (which, importantly, led off with neutral-headlines) were posted online and eventually seen more than two million times, with thousands of redirects to independent—and reliable—news outlets. And once these ads were out there, they stayed…

“The great thing about digital advertising is that it’s quite hard to stop it.”
— Rob Blackie

Here is hoping that other brainstorming sessions will take place where inventive ideas and technology can create more “great things” to provide aid and support—however small—to the Ukraine at this time.