With more than 80,000 people dead and nearly 35 million out of a job, America is desperate for some good news.
According to an April 17 McKinsey & Company article, “A leader’s guide: Communicating with teams, stakeholders, and communities during COVID-19,” crises can produce great leaders and communicators, those whose words and actions comfort in the present, restore faith in the long term, and are remembered long after the crisis has been quelled.” The same, of course, can be said not just of leaders and communicators, but companies and brands.
What’s a great example of a brand “that will be remembered long after the crisis”? Mattel, for its Play It Forward program.
Mattel is “playing it forward” with a new set of “Thank You Heroes” that celebrate the selfless courage of essential workers and first responders. According to the company’s website: “We're talking about those brave souls who carry on doing their jobs despite the risks in order to keep the rest of us safe, secure and healthy. We salute these heroes, and we think they're pretty amazing role models for kids. Let's play their heroism forward by lending a helping hand and sharing a little gratitude.” With each online action figure of the #ThankYouHeroes Collection sold, $15 is donated to FirstRespondersFirst, a fund dedicated to providing essential supplies, equipment and resources for frontline healthcare workers and their families. In another recent promotion, Mattel donated one Barbie Career Collection doll for every doll sold to the First Responder’s Children Foundation, which to date has:
- Funded more than 11,000 hotel room nights for first responders who couldn’t go home
- Awarded more than $1 million in immediate grants to hundreds of first responders with financial hardship due to COVID-19.
- Distributed more than 100,000 FDA certified, surgical grade masks to first responders
- Paid for funerals of first responders who have died from COVID-19, and
- Continues a 19-year mission funding college scholarships that benefit children of first responder parents killed or injured in the line of duty.
But Mattel’s roster of superheroes may not be complete. And here are just a couple of examples.
Like all community banks, Jill Castilla’s Citizens Bank of Edmond is doing its best to ensure the safety of customers, while taking some innovative steps to maintain the level of service that customers need and deserve. In order to encourage drive-thru use and make it work, the team at Citizens Bank of Edmond “came together and adopted a Chick-fil-A mentality,” Castilla says, “where we use walkie-talkies and tool belts and try to assist customers with our drive through.” With the bank’s new curbside service, customers can actually go on the bank’s website and make an appointment for a particular service, which they can then transact in the bank’s parking lot. “You can not only select the service you need with the day and time, but can also request a particular employee with whom you’d like to meet.” The bank is also offering limited lobby service by adopting the “restaurant-style” use of buzzers that alert customers to when they can enter the lobby. One of the beauties of the buzzer system is that, according to Castilla, “the buzzers travel far enough that a customer can visit a downtown shop or restaurant while waiting!”
And then there’s Zach Turner, who manages the Regions Bank in Ooltewah, Tennessee where as recounted in American Banker’s “Coronavirus through the eyes of front-line bankers,” his bank was faced not just with a pandemic and an economic crisis, but a natural disaster, as well. “As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough of a challenge, seven tornadoes hit the Tennessee Valley in mid-April. Bankers and customers alike faced ruined infrastructure and internet and power outages. Once Turner’s branch got back up and running, his team pivoted to helping customers handle large insurance payments related to the natural disaster.”
As Dave Martin pointed out in his American Banker article, “many banks are deferring payments, lowering rates and often providing additional financing (at extremely low rates) for customers to be able pay the money owed to their own suppliers, for example. These efforts were not brought on by a government edict. In a time in which days matter — and government agencies take weeks to respond — the nations’ banks are standing among the economy’s first responders.”
Do you think Mattel might add a community banker to their action figure collection? We think they should. What do you think?