B2 Awards Showcase How Brands Responded to the Pandemic

The last 18 months of pandemic-afflicted business have thrust a variety of challenges upon brands. Perhaps the most central of which has been how to pivot from being just a seller of products or services to being a partner to customers in crisis response.

When the judges of the ANA's 2021 B2 Awards were making their selections, they took note of several efforts by brands to make just such a pivot.

One winner was HP. When the company realized how shortages of personal protective equipment were handicapping frontline medical workers, and indeed putting their lives in jeopardy, it shifted its 3D printing business to creating the needed PPE.

HP, however, was not content to simply bring its own efforts to bear on the problem; it also helped coordinate contributions from others in the 3D printing industry, who used HP designs and their own production capabilities to help address the shortages.

These contributions made a sizable dent in the problem: Within six weeks of the program's launch, over 1.5 million parts had been printed, and within two months of launch, over 2.5 million parts had been printed.

Not every business has been in a position to contribute directly to medical professionals' fight against COVID-19; nonetheless, there have been opportunities to ameliorate other problems that the pandemic has been imposing upon businesses.

Another B2 winner, INFUSEmedia, recognized how much many businesses were suffering due to the lockdown, reporting that from February to April 2020, the number of active business owners in the United States plunged 3.3 million or 22 percent, the largest drop in history.

The cause of the trouble was not hard to diagnose: In a survey, roughly half of sales professionals reported that they were experiencing a 60 percent drop in leads.

To help address the crisis, INFUSEmedia provided 25,000 free leads to small- and medium-sized companies that were on the brink of closure. When this assistance was warmly received, however, it didn't stop. With its Business Reopening Toolkit program, it supplemented the free leads with resources such as competitor analysis, advertising creative, and educational resources that provided added value and improved outcomes.

While the program helped the businesses that took advantage of it, INFUSEmedia also benefitted. The company reported that the campaign resulted in 12,000 percent ROI as potential clients became more aware of INFUSEmedia and its brand perception improved.

Like INFUSEmedia, telecom company and fellow B2 winner Cox Business knew that companies, and particularly small businesses, were hurting. In response, it crafted a special deal tailored to the urgency of the times. For the first time ever, Cox extended an offer with no annual contract layered on a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Cox combined this concrete form of financial relief with a heartfelt morale boost. The company created an ad that celebrated the ways that restaurants and office services businesses were pivoting — for instance, by going from dine-in to take-out and making their spaces socially distant.

In this way, Cox, like HP and INFUSEmedia, found a way to draw on its own unique capabilities to assist others as they struggled to respond to the effects of the pandemic. Together, campaigns and programs like these underscore the fact that surviving the last eighteen months has been a group effort.


"B2 Awards Showcase How Brands Responded to the Pandemic," ANA, 2021.