DUBAI: Procter & Gamble (P&G) has launched its “Protect our Heroes” campaign as a COVID-19 relief mission in the Gulf.
As part of the mission, P&G will provide support for communities, employees and relief agencies through various initiatives, including the donation of masks and sanitizers to frontline workers and families affected by COVID-19.
The company has partnered with the Health Endowment Fund in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health in the UAE and the federal government in Nigeria.
It is also providing essential product donations — including Always, Pampers, Safeguard, Gillette and Ariel — to relief agencies and governments to support health care workers, and supporting online learning programs for children in the UAE.
“We have been talking for many years about this concept of being a ‘force for good’ and ‘force for growth,’ which has been driving a lot of our brand building work as well as our actions to support communities across the globe,” said Deepa Vaidyanathan, P&G’s head of communications for India, the Middle East and Africa.
“The principle is that if we continue to try and spark change, remove bias and do good, it will not only be good for the communities that we serve, but also good for the business.”
One of the key topics under this umbrella has been gender equality, as evidenced by campaigns such as “Like a Girl” globally and “Generation of Firsts” in Saudi Arabia.
Vaidyanathan said during the pandemic, the company realized that it had a role to play since it manufactures a lot of essential hygiene products. Moreover, 70 percent of all health care workers are women. “So we’ve been working with charities and governments across the world to give our products to frontline health care workers but also women and adolescent girls in need,” she added.
P&G is currently focusing on three key priorities: Employees, serving consumers and serving communities.
The company is working on creating conditions that allow employees to work from home in a productive way while juggling home responsibilities.
It has not cut any staff due to the pandemic; on the contrary, regular hiring processes and patterns continue.
It is also working on keeping its manufacturing plants running safely — two of which are in Saudi Arabia — in order to meet consumer demand.
In fact, key P&G sites, which manufacture household brands, have been expanded to produce essential safety items such as masks and hand sanitizers.
Lastly, through its various partnerships, P&G is working on serving its communities with essential products and helping those in need.
Brands’ response to COVID-19 through their advertising and communications has not gone unnoticed, but that is not necessarily for the best.
A recent GfK report found that while 75 percent noticed examples of companies being a force for good during the coronavirus crisis, an overwhelming 78 percent noticed examples of companies trying to take advantage.
Consumers feel like brands are pandering, virtue signaling or worse, taking advantage of the crisis to sell.
Vaidyanathan said this is something P&G is deeply aware and understanding of.
“It’s very important for us to serve, and not sell at this time. Right now, consumers need to be served with what they need, and they don’t necessarily need to be sold new things.”
She added: “That has been our principle and anywhere you look, we’ve been very careful to ensure that we’re truly doing good, and that our actions are speaking louder than words.”
So far, globally P&G’s in-kind, product and monetary donations add up to tens of millions of dollars across more than 200 relief organizations, more than 30 brands in more than 30 countries.