Today's take highlights examples of cultural intelligence at a time when it's never been more essential. You'll also see we've continued to adjust our usual categories to reflect this unusual time. Let us know what you think.
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Intelligence in the Era of COVID-19

This week, I joined a Zoom with friends from Yonder, ViacomCBS and Preacher to replicate a previously planned SXSW panel. The subject was an important one: Adapting business strategy during a world-changing pandemic.

More than ever before, companies have to stand for something. But they also must quickly adapt to changing realities. Beyond the business intelligence behind typical brand strategies, deep empathy and nuanced cultural understanding are essential to making decisions in these times.

In the United States, many of our clients quickly shifted to become public service brands. And not just through symbolic gestures like logo changes or inspired messaging, but with actions that reflect the war-time footing required at the moment. Companies like
General Motors, Honeywell and ALDI have led the charge. Adaptability will be critical for all brands and companies to be relatable in a post COVID-19 world. 

It's been remarkable to observe how culturally intelligent, agile marketing teams adapt their products, packaging and marketing in near real-time. One leader in both good and challenging times is AB-InBev.

Billboards in Times Square broadcast advertisements that nobody will see — a dichotomy symbolic of the importance of culture reading as the nation stays at home. 

AB-InBev has shifted priorities to help local businesses, redirect funds toward life-saving initiatives and provide entertainment to a country full of people stuck at home, with several thoughtful activations including: 

Open For Take Out” — Bud Light announced earlier this week their platform to help consumers locate bars and restaurants across the country that are #OpenForTakeout at, while encouraging social distancing. The initiative will help make it easier for people to support local businesses and their employees during these uncertain times

One Team — Budweiser is pledging to redirect funds from sports and entertainment partnerships in order to provide the immediate resources needed to support national and local response for COVID-19 with the American Red Cross. 

Dive Bar Tour: Home Edition — Bud Light is also providing online entertainment through their Dive Bar Tour: Home Edition, which features top artists live streaming from their homes to reinforce the importance of practicing social distancing while raising money for charities of the artist’s choice. The series kicked off last week and featured GRAMMY-nominated country singer Jake Owen and American pop-rock band One Republic, with performances supporting the American Red Cross.

Strategy in the wake of COVID-19 has society-changing implications. The ability to see and activate allows companies like AB InBev to deliver real impact in a world that has never needed it more. 

Chris Perry


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What We're Reading
Media Forensics
Time for Experts
By Jeff Jarvis, Medium

According to this highly-respected media critic, the coronavirus crisis requires media to shift some attention from trying to eradicate disinformation to finding and amplifying accurate information — authoritative intel from healthcare experts. One way to do that? Check out the author’s COVID Twitter list, a 499-strong group of sharp epidemiologists, virologists, physicians, researchers, NGOs and selected specialist journalists.

Data Visualization
Kinsa’s Fever Map Could Show Just How Crucial it is to Stay Home to Stop COVID-19 Spread
By Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Smart thermometer maker Kinsa has been working on building accurate, predictive models of how seasonal illnesses like the flu travel in and among communities — and its fever map is finding new utility as the novel coronavirus pandemic grows globally.

Culture Shift
Joining the Stay-at-Home Bread Boom? Science Has Some Advice

By Lauren Goode, Wired

Bread is on the rise. The number of people Googling “bread” hit an all-time high this week. Instagrammers and Twitterers alike are rolling in dough—not figuratively, but literally—and bread-making has become such a popular activity during this incredibly stressful time of coronavirus self-quarantining that grocery stores are running low on flour and yeast.

Critical Context
All the Coronavirus Statistics Are Flawed
By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

What we’re experiencing now is the fog of pandemic. The officials tracking COVID-19 are swimming in statistics: infection rates, case-fatality ratios, economic data. But in these early stages of the fight against the coronavirus, these figures each have their own particular limitations. 

Culture Shift
Coronavirus Spurs Demand for Touchless Technology
By Christopher Stern, Shai Oster, and Ashley Gold, The Information

Until recently, many people didn’t think twice about signing their name on a store payment screen at checkout, or touching a door handle on the way out of the office. But now, communal surfaces are feared as potential sources of contagion, leading U.S. consumers to rethink a host of behaviors ranging from the way they pay for goods to the way they flush toilets. And businesses have shifted their focus. 

Culture Shift
Zoom Technologies Trading Suspended After Ticker Confusion
By Luke McGrath, Bloomberg

Trading in Zoom Technologies Inc. (ticker: ZOOM) was suspended by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday through April 8 after the stock climbed in recent weeks amid confusion with Zoom Video Communications Inc. (ticker: ZM), the popular virtual-meeting company.

Media Forensics
YouTube Will Start Displaying Trustworthy Coronavirus Videos on its Homepage
By Julia Alexander, The Verge

YouTube will introduce a new row of verified videos to its homepage for anyone trying to find authoritative news on the ongoing coronavirus story. Pulling from a list of respected news outlets and local health authorities that upload to YouTube, the goal is to provide people with a information sources that are more reliable than just general videos uploaded by random users.

Culture Shift
How to Look Your Best on a Webcam
By Julie Lasky, The New York Times

Working at home, under siege from the coronavirus, means finding a quiet space to communicate remotely with colleagues, clients, students and friends. Thanks to video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom, it also means exposing one’s private sphere to the eyes of outsiders.

Emerging Technology
COVID-19 Screening Tool
By Apple and with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Apple released a new screening tool and set of resources to help people stay informed and protect their health during the spread of COVID-19, based on the latest CDC guidance. The new COVID-19 website and app (available on the App Store) were created in partnership with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA to make it easy for people nationwide to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US is feeling the heavy burden of COVID-19. 
Deep Take
Managing the Flow of Ideas in a Pandemic
By Alex "Sandy" Pentland, MIT Sloan Management Review
How do you minimize the spread of illness while maintaining the flow of ideas necessary in a high-performance organization — and simultaneously preserve mental health, trust and solidarity? This article highlights a few often complementary tactics and tools at our disposal. 
Copyright © 2020 Weber Shandwick

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