Edelman has been working with Unilever U.S. on one of the most significant responses to the Covid-19 crisis. On May 21, the equivalent of every one of the products manufactured at the 14 Unilever plants across America will be donated to Feeding America or Direct Relief so that American families in need can get food, personal care, and hygiene products. The idea is the brainchild of Fabian Garcia, the new CEO of Unilever North America, who aims to give hope and bring us together at a time of national distress. He said, “We know that we are only seeing the beginning of the impact of the crisis. We are committed to providing the essentials that Americans need.” Here is a video clip of Fabian on the Today Show last week.
As a part of the movement’s efforts to help deliver food, medical supplies, hygiene products, financial support and other critical supplies to relief organizations, Unilever committed $20M, starting with an initial donation to Direct Relief and Feeding America at launch. Here is the piece of content that Edelman produced, to celebrate the Unilever employees who are ensuring their fellow Americans have access to these essential products.
More than 50 companies have joined with Unilever in proclaiming a Day of Service. In the retail sector, Kroger is partnering with local food banks to distribute food, while Dollar General has five mobile vans that will operate as food banks serving over 12,000 consumers. Ten thousand independent grocers operating under the National Grocers Association’s banner are doing in-store activations that encourage customer donations alongside their own. Unilever’s media and agency partners are joining in activating their employee bases to give back to their communities, from iHeart Radio to Meredith to Pandora. At Edelman, we are doing our own community service by volunteering at local NGOs. For example, Edelman employees will be helping Project Hood deliver food to 2,500 neighborhood residents in the heavily impacted Englewood neighborhood in Chicago.
Senior Unilever executives are doing the three “Cs” (Contribute, Care, Connect). Rob Master, who recovered from Covid, is donating blood and connecting with students from his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. The 7,300 Unilever team members are writing thank you cards to the Feeding America employees who are distributing the products. Unilever brands are jumping into the action leading up to and on the Day of Service. Knorr is working with local restaurants to bring packaged lunches to Feeding America employees and volunteers. Lipton is providing one million cups of tea to hospital workers and food pantries. Vaseline is providing product to health care workers with chafed hands and The Right To Shower is providing handwashing stations to people experiencing homelessness, while Dove is helping all of us relearn the art of hand-washing, 20 seconds minimum with tops, bottoms and between fingers.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a French diplomat, toured the U.S. in the 1830s and then wrote Democracy in America. One of his fundamental observations: “America is great because she is good.” There is no more important time for the business community to show its empathy and commitment to community.
All businesses should follow Unilever’s example and stand up and be counted at this moment of reckoning. This is what great companies do at times of crisis. Thank you to our brilliant partners at Unilever for blazing the path for others to follow.
Richard Edelman is CEO.