March 14, 2022

Brands Move Quickly to Act Against Russian Invasion

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
When social media and polls talk, brands listen, as the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proven.

A rising tide of companies were busy issuing press releases last week, announcing what retaliatory moves they are taking against Russia for its unprovoked attack on Ukraine, in addition to those sanctions that have been leveled by many countries, including the United States.

Brands making moves have included the likes of Meta, that newer-named parent company of Facebook and Instagram, which says it’s preventing Russian state media from using its network to run advertising or make money. Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine responded immediately, saying it would partly restrict Russian residents’ access to Facebook while also accusing the social media giant of “censoring” Russian news.

Google, meanwhile, announced that it will use office space and other resources in Poland to help Ukrainian refugees — a move that will aid nonprofits in their efforts to provide legal and psychological aid to refugees from Google’s campus in Warsaw.

Other brands announcing retaliatory measures against the Russians include:

  • Uber, which is providing free trips between Ukraine and Poland;
  • Apple and Nike, both of which have shut down stores, with Apple saying it also will halt all product sales in the country;
  • Visa and Mastercard declaring that they will cease doing business in Russia.

Brands’ Moves Come on Heels of Public Opinion Polls

The crescendo of brand support for the people of Ukraine the past couple of weeks follows polls with these findings, as outlined last week by Insider Intelligence/eMarketer:

  • 82% of corporate leaders agree that broader societal concerns can’t be ignored, and doing so can cause “negative financial consequences,” concluded one study from risk intelligence firm Crisp;
  • 63% of consumers believe they have the power to force brands to change, with 78% wanting to exert that power to improve society, found a 2021 Edelman study;
  • Three in four Americans indicated they support brands that are cutting ties with Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine, according to a Morning Consult survey last week — and “ultimately, the US market is far more valuable to most brands than Russia’s economy, which is smaller than that of New York state,” Insider Intelligence/eMarketer noted.

Smaller Brands Take Some Impressive Steps of Their Own

Big brands are not the only ones making anti-Russian moves; smaller entrepreneurs are at it, too.

Perhaps the most impressive smaller-business effort has been that undertaken by a Ukrainian-owned bakery in the San Antonio area: Laika Cheesecakes & Espresso, of Alamo Heights. It has raised more than $100,000 for Ukrainian relief efforts, thanks to a fundraising drive that began Feb. 25, the day after Russia began attacking Ukraine.

The following weekend, the bakery sold 4,600 single-serve jars of cheesecake and 670 cheesecake slices, ranging from $7.50 to $8.50, according to the San Antonio Report. Customers waited in a daylong line and also bought T-shirts, hats and coffee to help raise more than $72,000 that weekend alone, and donations and sales have kept rolling.

Owner Anna Afanasieva, extra busy from constantly checking on friends and relatives in her war-torn homeland, said the $100,000-plus would go to humanitarian groups and the Ukrainian military.

The fundraiser left bakery co-owner Viktor Krizma amazed by the power of social media.

“We posted it on our social media and it went viral instantly,” he told the SA Report. “We never expected it, and the next day we came here and the line was around the building already before we opened.”

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