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  • 02 Apr 2020
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Opinion: the Corporate World is Helping to Combat Coronavirus—but Mind the Virus-washing

Businesses from every conceivable sector, from e-commerce to pulp and paper, have been featured in the news media helping to combat Covid-19. Are companies genuinely trying to help, or are they using the Covid-19 pandemic as a marketing opportunity? And what are the dos and don’ts of communicating in the Covid-era? China’s internet titans were among the first. Alibaba waived service fees and offered loans for struggling online merchants, delivery app Meituan gave medical staff free meals and free rides, and JD.com gave counselling services for the quarantined. Then companies started making stuff they don’t normally make in response to a surge in demand for medical supplies. Automaker BYD began manufacturing disinfectant, and iPhone maker Foxconn pivoted to face mask production. As the virus has spread, so has the corporate love. The outpouring of corporate generosity has shown that capitalism may have a heart. But there have been some CSR faux pas to remind us that business can be more attuned to seizing a marketing opportunity than helping those in need. There’s been a lot of talk, with little substance.

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