Brands on the Front Lines

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As Russia rains terror on the people of Ukraine, companies step up to provide aid and support

One by one, many of the world’s most consequential brands have ceased operations in Russia in the past weeks, both to signal their condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and to cripple the country’s war machine. But some have gone a step beyond bans and boycotts to direct life-giving aid and support where it is most desperately needed.

This Brand Acts of Kindness (BAK) story begins with Airbnb (BAK 51), one of the first American companies to rally to the cause with an initiative to arrange temporary housing—free or at discounted rates—for up to 100,000 refugees in Poland, Germany and other neighboring countries. This is not a new practice for Airbnb: In past years, the company has partnered with NGOs to house relief workers on the front lines of the Syrian refugee crisis as well as those made homeless by wars, political upheavals and natural disasters in Afghanistan, Africa and the U.S.

Other companies that have risen to the occasion include:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company—Based in Mansfield, Missouri, Baker Creek allocated 100% of its sales over a two-day period to World Help to speed water and food to refugees. “This moment holds particular poignancy for me,” said CEO Jere Gettle. “My ancestors, German immigrants to the region around Odessa, were forced to flee their farm and home in the early 20th century due to Soviet aggression in Ukraine.”

Grammarly—This English language assistant and productivity app donated all net revenues it earned from Russia and Belarus in the years since the 2014 Crimea invasion to Ukraine aid and rescue efforts, totaling over $5 million. “Grammarly was founded in Ukraine and our cofounders are from Ukraine,” the company posted on social media. “And we have many team members who call Ukraine home.”

Amazon—The retailing giant offered up to $5 million for Ukraine relief to international aid organizations such as the Red Cross and Save the Children. Amazon also committed to matching up to $5 million in employee donations.

FedEx—FedEx put together a $1.5 million humanitarian aid package, including $1 million in in-kind shipping services to organizations transporting supplies to Ukraine and $550,000 in direct funding to NGOs.

Accenture (BAK 33)—Featured in one of Carpenter Group’s 2020 Brand Acts of Kindness profiles, Accenture donated $5 million to relief organizations working to help both refugees and those remaining in Ukraine.

Unilever—Also an early Brands Acts profile, Unilever contributed $5.5 million in food and healthcare products through NGO partners.

IKEA—The world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA donated $22 million in response to an emergency appeal from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Uber—Uber arranged for account holders to make direct contributions to the International Rescue Committee through the Uber app and announced it would match contributions up to $1 million. The company is also offering free rides to refugees and aid workers from Ukraine’s Polish border to key cities in Poland.

Lego—The LEGO Foundation, Ole Kirk’s Fond, and the LEGO Group announced an emergency $16.5 million donation to support Ukrainian children and families. The money will be distributed to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children and the Danish Red Cross to help families affected by the crisis.

Like COVID-19 and the storms, fires and earthquakes that have ravaged the planet in recent years, the hellish war on Ukraine and its people places a special charge on the world’s most successful brands—to live their values in a way that makes the world a better, kinder and safer place. As the war, sadly, wears on, more companies will join the effort. Meanwhile, Carpenter Group recognizes those that already have, performing Brand Acts of Kindness that endure.

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About Brand Acts of Kindness® 

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.