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Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, agencies and marketers have been speaking out about efforts they are taking related to the war, including supporting staff in the region and halting business with Russian entities.
Ad Age is keeping track of the latest moves being made. Check back here for updates.
9:20 AM ET
In separate and independent efforts, the Ukraine government and Crypto.com are supporting Ukraine with NFT collections. Ukraine’s collection, dubbed “Meta History: Museum of War,” documents the timeline of Russia’s invasion and will funnel proceeds to Ukraine’s army and civilians.
The series currently features 54 NFTs illustrating the first three days of the war. The tokens will begin starting early next week, per The Verge. Crypto.com’s collection, called “The Art of Giving,” consists of 40 peace-themed NFTs, such as psychedelic hippie cats and an image of the sun peaking through sunflowers.
The NFTs are a collaboration between Crypto.com and 33 independent artists, and each will sell as unlimited editions for between $50 and $100 from March 25 through March 31 on the brand’s NFT platform. It is part of a larger campaign for Ukraine relief that will feature a commercial during the Oscars’ U.S. broadcast.
Read more: Crypto.com’s Oscars 2022 commercial urges to help Ukraine
11:45 AM ET
Serhii Serbin, a Ukrainian motion designer at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, teamed up with a Kyiv-based friend, designer Olla Kuzovkina, to thank people who are standing with Ukraine by showing up at protests, making donations and sharing their homes with refugees. Read more about the project and see the artwork here.
10:30 AM ET
A new season of the popular online game Fortnite launched over the weekend, and game developer Epic says it will donate all proceeds from the first two weeks of game play to aid Ukraine, according to The Verge. The proceeds will come from “real-money purchases” in the game, such as buying V-bucks (the game’s currency), subscriptions, battle passes, and retail gift cards. Microsoft’s XBox will also be donating their two weeks of net proceeds from Fortnite as well. Funds will be donated to Direct Relief, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the World Food Programme.
According to Fortnite’s Twitter feed, as of March 21, just one day after launch, the effort has raised $36 million in humanitarian relief funds.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “massively destabilizing world event” in his first public comments about the war since it began in late February.
“It’s really tough to find the right words that really mean anything in a situation like this,” he said at the SXSW conference, adding that Meta is working to keep its services up and running in the region so Ukrainians can continue using them.
Meta blocked Russian state-backed media accounts in Ukraine and the European Union, and a recent policy change that gave Ukrainians permission to share posts wishing violence upon invading Russian forces led to some confusion. Russian regulators have responded by blocking Facebook and Instagram in the country, citing “discrimination against Russian media and information resources.”
Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie have suspended certain operations in Russia as the war with Ukraine continues, Crain’s Chicago Business reported today.
Abbott said in a statement it has stopped new investment, business development and advertising activity in Russia. However, the company will continue providing health care products, including medicines for cancer and organ functions. Abbott, which manufactures pharmaceuticals in Russia, says these types of products are “generally exempt from sanctions for humanitarian reasons.”
Meantime, Eli Lilly & Co. has suspended investment, promotional activity and new clinical trials in Russia, and has stopped exporting nonessential medicines to the country, Bloomberg reports, noting that the company will continue to deliver cancer and diabetes medicines to patients in Russia.
—Crain’s Chicago Business and Bloomberg News
Airbnb, which two weeks ago announced it would offer free temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees leaving Ukraine, has now secured housing from more than 21,500 hosts for the program, including 14,000 in Europe and 4,000 in the U.S., according to a company update.
Also, today, Airbnb’s co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and his wife Elizabeth committed to match up to $10 million in donations to Airbnb.org through March, in support of the refugee program.
Publicis is the latest holding company to suspend its operations, engagement and investment in Russia due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
In a video shared with Publicis employees today, CEO Arthur Sadoun confirmed the decision and said the holding company will be handing over control of its Russian operations to Sergey Koptev.
Read more about Publicis’ decision here.
6:35 PM ET
Interpublic Group of Cos. is the latest major agency holding company to pull out of Russia as its invasion of Ukraine continues. In a Linkedin letter, IPG CEO Phillippe Krakowsky admitted that the company has been “wrestling” with the idea of possibly “abandoning” the 200 colleagues IPG has in the country, and said it was initially holding off for a potential ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.
Read more about IPG’s move and other holding companies’ actions.
2:36 PM ET
The Association of National Advertisers and World Federation of Advertisers haven’t quite called on members to stop advertising in Russia, but they largely appear to have anyway during this week’s wave of announcements.
The ANA has called on members to abide by U.S. and other countries’ sanctions on Russia. An informal survey of 180 ANA members taken shortly after the invasion last month showed 23% do business in Russia, and at that point, 25% of them already had stopped advertising. That number likely has ballooned this week, though the ANA hasn’t done a follow-up survey. And the late-February survey suggests several members stopped advertising before announcing it.
The World Federation of Advertisers, which has called on members to “reconsider advertising in Russia,” reported Wednesday that in a poll of 31 members representing $43 billion in global ad spending, “three in four have reallocated, reduced or cut spend altogether.” Of the 20 biggest global advertisers ranked by Ad Age Datacenter, 18 either have announced they’ve halted advertising in Russia or have suspended or have suspended operations there. The two that haven’t are China’s Alibaba and Tencent. Toyota in a statement said it has halted operations in and imports from Russia, but blamed supply-chain issues, not the invasion of Ukraine.
6:46 PM ET
Burger King will pull corporate support of its franchised-owned restaurants in Russia, including marketing, parent company Restaurant Brands International announced today. The chain does not have any corporate-owned restaurants in the country. The move comes after BK announced it would make a $1 million donation to the United Nations’ refugee agency.
Read more: What’s at stake for McDonald’s and other big brands leaving Russia
3:01 PM ET
Big brewers have joined the Russia boycott. Heineken announced it will stop the sale, production and marketing of its flagship brand in the country, while Molson Coors has suspended exports of all its brands to Russia. Heineken will also “take immediate steps to ring-fence our Russian business from the wider Heineken Company to stop the flow of monies, royalties and dividends out of Russia,” CEO Dolf van den Brink stated.
The position from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, is less clear. The company’s involvement in Russia and Ukraine is via a joint venture controlled by Anadolu Efes, a company headquartered in Turkey. In a statement, Anheuser-Busch InBev said it is “focused on providing critical assistance to our 1,800 colleagues in Ukraine and their families, including providing housing and financial support,” while also “working in partnership with other CPGs and international NGOs to provide food, blankets, medical supplies and 2 million cans of emergency drinking water to the Ukraine and surrounding refugee relief areas.”
When asked if the brewer would continue its Russian operations, an AB InBev representative referred the question to an Anadolu Efes representative who did not immediately return an email for comment.
10:20 AM ET
Goldman Sachs Group said that it is closing down its operations in Russia, becoming the first major Wall Street Bank to exit the country since the invasion began. According to its website, Goldman Sachs first entered Russia in 1998.
“Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people.” According to Bloomberg, Russia does not account for “a meaningful portion of its global banking business.”
Kantar is suspending business operations in Russia and divesting its 20% stake in Russian TV measurement service Mediascope, the company said in a statement. A spokesman said Kantar made the decision to suspend Russia operations on Friday and began communicating it to clients and its workforce yesterday.
“On the media front, we intend to divest our 20% equity stake in Mediascope, the Russian TV audience measurement company, as soon as possible and have started the process to suspend all contracts and services, including shipments of hardware/software to Mediascope,” the spokesman said in an e-mail. Kantar’s Worldpanel business doesn’t operate in Russia, he said. “For our Insights Division, we are working with our local leadership team to suspend activity in an orderly manner and support our colleagues during this transition,” the spokesman said. “We have many valued colleagues in Russia who are not responsible for this crisis.”
6:05 PM ET
Nielsen is still providing media measurement services for Russia, though it’s “pausing” new business and considering what to do with its current business amid an exodus of big global advertisers from the country.
“Due to the escalating situation in Russia and Ukraine, Nielsen is actively working with its clients and vendors in Russia to pause new business and evaluating a plan for its existing operations in Russia,” the company said in a statement.
Russia has shut down its last remaining independent TV network, and other TV players are either state-owned or closely controlled. Independent media and journalists have fled in the wake of government crackdowns and a new law that, among other things, metes out jail terms as long as 15 years for referring to any “invasion” or “war.” Media companies and brands including Discovery, CNN, Bloomberg, Alphabet and Meta have suspended operations. A person familiar with the matter said Nielsen doesn’t provide measurement for state-run media. It’s unclear what other media remains left to measure.
Five of the 10 largest advertisers in Russia as of 2020, according to an Ad Age Datacenter analysis of Mediascope data, have announced they’re halting advertising. That includes all those on the list based outside Russia, including Nestle (the biggest overall spender), PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble Co., L’Oreal and Mars. Combined they spent more than $660 million on measured media spending. Eight of the 10 biggest global advertisers overall in recent days have announced they’re ending advertising or else halting or curtailing operations in Russia.
12:37 PM ET
John Deere, the tractor maker, has been starring in a newly popular genre on social media: Tank pulling. Ukraine’s farmers have been using the tractors to commandeer tanks from invading Russians, according to videos shared on social media. John Deere is a 185-year-old classic U.S. brand with global operations that extend to Ukraine and Russia, too.
Here’s a video of a Ukraine tractor hauling away a captured Russian Tor-M2 missile system. 😃 pic.twitter.com/lbOTSJBiAH
Senator Marco Rubio suggested John Deere provide more tractors to Ukraine. And one Twitter user said the Ukraine videos presented the best product placement for John Deere since a famous episode of “Mad Men,” when a tractor made a cameo in a dark episode of the show based on a 1960s ad agency. John Deere shut down its stores in Ukraine at the start of the war and said Wednesday that it suspended shipments to Russia when the invasion began, according to Bloomberg. The company said it also has halted deliveries to Belarus.
10:20 AM ET
Amazon.com Inc. says it has stopped shipping products sold on its retail website to customers based in Russia and cut off access to its video streaming service there. The moves, announced in a blog post updated late Tuesday, ratchets up the company’s pullback following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Earlier Tuesday, Amazon joined the ranks of companies suspending some operations in Russia by announcing it was halting new sales from its Amazon Web Services cloud-computing arm.
Russia wasn’t a major market for the Seattle-based company, for either physical products or software services. The world’s largest online retailer doesn’t operate dedicated web stores for the country, but shoppers there could have products shipped from Amazon’s retail outpost in Germany or other storefronts.
Related: Why Hyatt-branded hotels are still operating in Russia
8:30 AM ET
Discovery is joining the list of broadcasters cutting services in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Discovery, which also runs HGTV, Animal Planet and TLC, said it would stop broadcasting in Russia, according to Reuters. Discovery has a media partnership with Russia’s National Media Group.
A number of media companies are halting broadcasting, streaming and news services inside Russia following global condemnation and sanctions of the country, since it started a war against neighboring Ukraine last month. In recent days, Netflix stopped streaming in Russia, BBC and CNN shut their channels, and movie studios such as Warner Bros. and Disney stopped showing new theatrical releases in the country.
8:30 PM ET
L’Oreal has temporarily closed all stores and directly operated counters at department stores in Russia along with “all industrial and national media investments.”
The world’s biggest beauty marketer is also temporarily shutting down its brand e-commerce sites in Russia and assessing additional measure, according to the statement, “whilst still taking care of our 2,200 Russian employees.”
L’Oreal is also supporting employees in Ukraine with “financial and psychological help,” the statement said, with teams “personally welcoming our Ukrainian colleagues who cross the border” and providing them with accommodations, psychological, medical, financial and legal support. L’Oreal is providing global and local relief organizations with up to $5.5 million in donations and has already distributed 250,000 personal care and hygiene products.
5:45 PM ET
So many brands are pulling out of Russia, it’s hard to keep track. But the Yale School of Management is doing its best to catalog them all. By the school’s count, 290 companies have announced their withdrawal from the country. A tipping point was reached today with U.S. corporate titans McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks announcing various forms of business suspensions, while PepsiCo said it would suspend all beverage sales while keeping essentials like baby food flowing.
The Yale list, updated by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his research team at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, can be found here. The team is also tracking brands that according to its research have remained in Russia. As of Tuesday that included: Nestle, Hilton, Marriott, Kimberly-Clark and Mars, among others.
5:45 PM ET
Estee Lauder Cos. is suspending all commercial activity in Russia, “including every store we own and operate, as well as our brand sites and shipments to any of our retailers,” the company said in a statement. The company previously had suspended business investments and initiatives. And its charitable foundation has committed $1 million in support of relief efforts, plus product donations and a double match for employee donations for relief in and around Ukraine.
5:00 PM ET
Coca-Cola Co. is suspending its business in Russia following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine, as PepsiCo explores options for its Russian business.
“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” Coca-Cola Co. said in a statement Tuesday. “We will continue to monitor and assess the situation as circumstances evolve.”
Read more here.
4:02 PM ET
Starbucks Corp. said its licensed partner has agreed to immediately pause operations at all 130 of its stores in Russia. The coffee chain’s licensee will provide support to the almost 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on the company for their livelihood, Starbucks said Tuesday in a statement posted on its website. The company had said last week that it would donate royalties from sales in Russia to relief efforts in Ukraine.
3:57 PM ET
Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud-computing unit will stop accepting new customers in Russia or Belarus. In a company blog post updated on Tuesday, Amazon said its Amazon Web Services unit had “no data centers, infrastructure or offices in Russia, and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government. We have also stopped allowing new sign-ups for AWS in Russia and Belarus.”
The biggest AWS users in Russia are companies headquartered elsewhere, Amazon said.
The Seattle-based company doesn’t have a dedicated retail website for Russia, but shoppers in most European countries can receive shipments cross-border from Amazon’s German retail site or outposts elsewhere. Amazon hasn’t responded to inquires about its retail activities in Russia.
2:15 PM ET
McDonald’s today announced it would temporarily close all of its restaurants in Russia and pause all operations in the market, following increased pressure to take a stand as the war in Ukraine worsens.
It is “impossible to predict,” when they would reopen, CEO Chris Kempczinski said.
Read more about McDonald’s decision here.
12:44 PM ET
Unilever has suspended all marketing and capital investments as well as all imports from and exports to Russia, CEO Alan Jope said in a statement.
“We will continue to supply our everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people in the country,” Jope said, continuing to keep the policy “under close review.” But Unilever will not invest any further capital into the country, he said, “nor will we profit from our presence in Russia.”
Unilever previously stopped business operations in Ukraine. Jope said Unilever also has committed to donate nearly $5.5 billion of essential Unilever products to humanitarian relief. Unilever rival P&G late Monday said it would stop spending on marketing or capital investment in Russia and limit product sales there to “basic health, hygiene and personal care items.”
Burger King has committed $3 million to support Ukrainian refugees as part of a series of charitable donations from parent company Restaurant Brands International
“We are watching the attack on Ukraine and its people with horror and are focusing our efforts in the region on contributing to the safety of Ukrainians seeking shelter and security for their families,” a spokesperson for the company said.
RBI is redirecting profits from franchised operations in Russia to humanitarian efforts, starting with an immediate donation of $1 million to the United Nations refugee agency. In addition, franchisees in more than 25 countries in Europe are partnering with local non-government organizations to distribute $2 million in free Whopper meal vouchers to Ukrainian refugees arriving in those countries to be redeemed in the next few weeks. RBI franchises more than 800 Burger King restaurants in Russia among its 29,000 global outlets.
7:17 AM ET
Procter & Gamble Co. is suspending marketing and capital investment in Russia and curtailing some product offerings there, Chairman-CEO Jon Moeller said in a letter to employees and blog post on Monday. The company also has suspended operations in Ukraine and put together a multi-million-dollar package of humanitarian relief for refugees.
P&G is “suspending all media, advertising and promotional activity” in Russia and “significantly reducing our product portfolio to focus on basic health, hygiene and personal care items needed by the many Russian families who depend on them in their daily lives. As we proceed with the reduced scale of our Russian operations, we will continue to adjust as necessary,” Moeller said.
Read more about P&G’s moves in Russia and Ukraine.
3:40 PM ET
Coinbase blocks Russia-linked wallet addresses
Cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase Global Inc. said it blocked over 25,000 wallet addresses related to Russian individuals or entities that it believes to be engaging in illicit activity.
The blocked addresses represent about 0.2% of Coinbase’s 11.4 million monthly transacting users, based on 2021 data. In a company blog, Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, said the largest U.S. crypto exchange has banned access for sanctioned individuals and is using blockchain analytics to identify addresses potentially linked to them, which it also adds to an internal blocklist.
12:30 PM ET
One Club, D&AD react to escalating situation
In the wake of Cannes Lions’ decision to ban Russian entries and delegates, other creative awards bodies are reacting to the escalating situation in Ukraine. The One Club for Creativity has announced that it will refund all award fees from Ukrainian agencies, including The One Show 2022, ADC 101st Annual Awards and Young Ones Student Awards. However, it will not ban Russian agencies from entering. “Our support for the entire global creative community extends to agencies and creatives in Russia who stand against the war and oppression, and have nothing to do with the horrific actions of their state leaders.”
D&AD, meanwhile, had originally said Russian entries into D&AD Awards 2022 will be paid as a donation to the Art Directors’ Club of Ukraine. Although D&AD still intends to make a donation, it is now imposing a full ban on Russian entries into both the professional and New Blood awards.
“We intend to keep our lines of communication open with our Russian colleagues who oppose the war on Ukraine,” D&AD stated. “We will refund their entry fees, including to students and tutors of the New Blood Awards, when it is possible to do so.”
11:15 AM ET
Stolichnaya vodka rebrands as Stoli
As previously reported in this blog, vodka brands with Russian ties are in a tough spot, as some U.S. state-controlled liquor stores begin pulling Russian-owned vodkas from shelves. But even brands with more tenuous links to the country have an image problem. Consider Stolichnaya, which is made in Latvia. The brand has now formally changed its name to Stoli to punctuate its separation from Russia. “I have personally experienced persecution by Putin’s regime and I share the pain of Ukraine and its people,” brand founder Yuri Shefler said in a statement posted on the Stoli Group website. USA Today has more.
Related: TikTok suspends livestreaming in Russia
9:50 AM ET
Levi’s halts Russian operations, donates to humanitarian aid
Levi Strauss & Co. said today it was temporarily suspending its business in Russia. Last year, about 4% of Levi’s total revenues came from Eastern Europe, including half from Russia. The company is also halting any new investments in the Russian region. In addition, Levi’s, which was known as a symbol of freedom during the Cold War, said it was donating over $300,000 to nonprofit organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee, that are providing humanitarian aid to those affected by the Ukraine war.
Netflix pulls out of Russia
Netflix Inc. is shutting its operations in Russia and said no new customers will be able to sign up, though it’s unclear what will happen with existing accounts.
Netflix has fewer than one million customers in Russia and has been operating in the country through a partnership with National Media Group. The streaming giant said previously it won’t be carrying required Russian news channels on its local-language service in the country and has paused all projects and acquisitions from Russia, including four programs in production.
6:05 PM ET
WPP has decided to discontinue its operations in Russia following the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
In an internal memo sent to all WPP staff, CEO Mark Read stated that continuing operations in Russia would be “inconsistent” with the company’s values.
Read more about WPP’s decision here.
Bloomberg News will temporarily suspend the work of its journalists inside Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that criminalizes independent reporting in the country.
“The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said Friday.
The legislation will impose prison terms of up to 15 years for people charged with spreading “fake news” about the military or calling for sanctions against the country. Two liberal local broadcasters, Ekho Moskvy and TV Rain, went off the air Thursday under pressure from prosecutors who’d demanded that access be restricted because of their coverage of Putin’s war in Ukraine. The websites of the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Meduza, an independent news group, weren’t accessible Friday. Facebook and Twitter were blocked by the country’s communications regulator, Interfax reported.
5:30 PM ET
Ad tech firm Extreme Reach has shut down its ad serving and delivery to Russian-affiliated digital and TV destinations, including RT (Russia Today) and RT America, per a statement from the brand: “As a global company, we are part of a global community that is weakened when any of its people are oppressed…More directly, we’re providing support to our team members who are themselves based in Ukraine or whose families and loved ones are in the midst of this unthinkable crisis.”
The company also noted that it made the largest donation in its history to the Red Cross’ Ukraine Emergency Appeal.
12:23 PM ET
Microsoft Corp. said it’s suspending all new sales of products and services in Russia as it condemned the country’s “unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion” of Ukraine.
The U.S. tech giant also said it’s working closely with governments of the U.S., European Union and U.K. and stopping many aspects of its business in Russia in compliance with coordinated sanctions rules.
11:20 AM ET
Sainsbury’s is the latest U.K. food retailer to change the name of its own brand chicken kiev to product to “chicken kyiv,” to reflect the Ukrainian spelling of the city’s name. However, Marks & Spencer, which popularized the dish in the U.K. in the 1980s, has yet to do so.
The U.K.’s second-biggest supermarket also said that it would no longer sell Russian Standard vodka and Karpayskiye black sunflower seeds. It stated in a tweet: “We stand united with the people of Ukraine. We have reviewed our product range and have decided to remove from sale all products that are 100% sourced from Russia.
11:05 AM ET
In recent days, many people have been posting photographs consisting of blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukraine flag, on social media in solidarity with Ukrainians. When Pantone posted an image of the two colors, labeled “Freedom Blue” and “Energizing Yellow,” not everyone was impressed with the gesture by the color trend experts.
One tweet read: “You really turning it into a marketing campaign? shame on you.” While a LinkedIn user posted this fictitious conversation with the Ukrainian president:
“Good news Mr Zelenskyy, new support has come in from the west.”
“Oh thank god. More weapons? A no-fly zone? More economic sanctions?”
“No, can you believe this? Pantone have done us a colour scheme!”
Get. In. The. Bin.
8:05 AM ET
Airbnb has suspended operations in Russia and Belarus, CEO Brian Chesky tweeted late Thursday. The company earlier offered free short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the Russian invasion of their country and will work with neighboring European states to provide long-term stays.
2:03 PM ET
Consultancy giant Accenture announced today that it is discontinuing its business in Russia. “Accenture stands with the people of Ukraine and the governments, companies and individuals around the world calling for the immediate end to the unlawful and horrific attack on the people of Ukraine and their freedom,” a company statement said.
Accenture currently employs nearly 2,300 staffers in Russia, including those who are part of its marketing services division Accenture Interactive, and said it will be providing support to those employees.
Though Accenture does not operate in Ukraine, it will be helping Ukrainian employees and their extended families with services such as telehealth and resettlement assistance for those leaving the country. The company is also donating $5 million to nonprofit relief organizations helping Ukrainians and will match donations from its own staff.
12:15 PM ET
The Ad Council released campaign materials encouraging people to donate to disaster and crisis relief, promoting the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund through GlobalGiving.
The work directs people to SupportCrisisRelief.org. Assets for the relief effort were created by the Ad Council Content Studio.
11:50 AM ET
Ikea is pausing operations in Russia and Belarus, the retailer announced on Thursday. “The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” the company shared in a post outlining its plans, which include shutting Ikea stores in Russia. Mega shopping centers, which like Ikea are run by Ingka Group, remain open.
Marks & Spencer announced that it is suspending shipments to its franchise licensee in Russia.
A message to all our customers and colleagues 💙 💛 pic.twitter.com/coD5vfyT7E
Both retailers also announced donation efforts.
Fashion retailers are also halting Russian sales. Hennes & Mauritz AB, Burberry Group Plc and Boohoo Group Plc are curtailing operations in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg reported early Thursday. Online fashion retailer Asos Plc also halted sales to Russia, saying it is “neither practical nor right” to continue doing business there, according to Bloomberg, which noted that rival Boohoo suspended its operations in Russia at the end of last week, citing a company spokesperson.
4:35 PM ET
Russian soccer teams dropped from video game
The Russian national soccer team was cut from the widely popular FIFA 22 video game, in a move to show “solidarity” with Ukraine, Electronic Arts said Wednesday. The video game publisher said it would remove the Russian national team and Russian clubs from FIFA gameplay online and mobile devices, and that it was “actively evaluating changes to other areas of our games.”
Ukrainian officials have been calling for even stricter measures from the video game industry, like blocking Russian and Belarusian accounts from participating online, the BBC reported. EA also runs other global sports franchises, including NHL 22, where it removed Russian and Belarusian national teams. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been a groundswell of global sports organizations to sanction Russia. FIFA banned Russia from real-world competition.
A statement from EA SPORTS FIFA: pic.twitter.com/v3pZvpblgS
12:30 PM ET
U.K. plant-based food brand Better Naked has renamed its plant-based Chicken Kiev product as Chicken Kyiv in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The brand’s owner Finnebrogue announced on its website that it has has also pledged 50% of its profits from sales of the product in 2022 to the humanitarian relief effort in Ukraine.
“Kiev” was the standardized spelling for the Ukrainian capital under Soviet rule, but the Russian invasion has seen many media outlets switch to the Ukrainian alternative. Better Naked’s move has prompted calls on social media for larger brands to do the same. “I still think @marksandspencer is missing a real trick in not renaming its iconic Chicken Kiev – a dish that launched the entire ready meal industry – as Chicken Kyiv and donating profits to Ukraine Red Cross or similar. Come on, guys…,” tweeted journalist Harry Wallop.
The Associated Press changed its style for the Ukrainian capital to Kyiv in 2019. Its style for the dish, as of this writing, remains chicken Kiev.
6:11 PM ET
CCM hockey to stop using Russian stars in global marketing
Hockey equipment maker CCM will stop using Russian NHL players—including future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin—in global marketing initiatives, the company said Tuesday.
“We are very sad to witness, like the rest of the world, what is happening in Ukraine,” CCM CEO Marrouane Nabih said in an email to TSN, which is Canada’s version of ESPN. “Although Mr. Ovechkin is not responsible for the Russian government’s actions, we took the decision to not use him (or any Russian player) on any global CCM communication at this point.”
Ovechkin, who is fourth all-time in goals scored, has been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, and faced criticism last week after choosing not to condemn Putin for the invasion. Fellow Russian star Evgeni Malkin, who is also sponsored by CCM, has also supported Putin.
Read more news on how brands and agencies are responding to the Ukraine war.
4:24 PM ET
Ford is suspending operations with joint venture partners in Russia. “As part of the global community, Ford is deeply concerned about the invasion of Ukraine and the resultant threats to peace and stability. The situation has compelled us to reassess our operations in Russia.” the automaker stated.
The statement notes that Ford had in recent years “significantly wound down its Russian operations,” which now consists of commercial van manufacturing and Russian sales through a minority interest in the Sollers Ford joint venture.
“While we don’t have significant operations in Ukraine, we do have a strong contingent of Ukrainian nationals working at Ford around the world and we will continue to support them through this time,” Ford added, noting its Ford Fund will make a $100,000 donation to the Global Giving Ukraine Relief Fund.
Related: Big tech firms respond to Ukraine crisis
3:46 PM ET
DirecTV pulling Russia’s RT channel from satellite TV lineup
DirecTV, one of the largest U.S. pay-TV providers, is pulling the Russian-government-controlled RT network from its service, citing that country’s invasion of Ukraine.An agreement between DirecTV and RT was set to expire in the second half of 2022, but the invasion pushed the company to act sooner to end the arrangement, a spokesman said Tuesday.
“In line with our previous agreement with RT America, we are accelerating this year’s contract expiration timeline and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,” a DirecTV spokesman said in a statement.
3:05 PM ET
Publicis guarantees salaries for Ukraine employees for the year
Publicis CEO and Chairman Arthur Sadoun sent an internal memo to the holding company’s 350 Ukraine employees today, ensuring all Ukraine employees will have a guaranteed salary for the rest of 2022. All salaries will be paid in full every two weeks for the entire year, along with an advance payment of their March salary. The salary move was made on top of security, health, housing, and relocation measures that Publicis has already in place according to the memo.
“While these financial measures can only help a small part of the turbulent reality you face today, we hope it will give you some sense of security, help provide for your loved ones and allow you to plan and take back control of your lives,” Sadoun wrote in the memo.
Following the memo, global and local Publicis leadership held a private roundtable with its Ukraine employees.
Related: Applebee’s ‘disappointed’ with CNN after awkward ad placement during Ukraine coverage
9:40 AM ET
Disney, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures have paused film releases in Russia. Stated Disney: “Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar. We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation.”
Warner Bros. halted this week’s release of “The Batman” in Russia, while Sony paused releases including “Morbius,” Reuters reports.
7:15 AM ET
U.K. awards body D&AD announced it will refund all money received by Ukrainian companies for entries into D&AD Awards 2022 to the entrants. This will include any entries received to date as well as any further work received from Ukranian companies, which can enter the competition free of charge until entries close March 16. Russian entries into D&AD Awards 2022 will be paid as a donation to the Art Director’s Club of Ukraine.
“Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people who are suffering, and we hope that through the global community’s joint efforts we will be able to help them through this crisis and support them to recover from this unjust and unthinkable devastation and destruction,” said Dara Lynch, D&AD’s chief operating officer, in a statement.
D&AD’s range of entry prices can be downloaded from the D&AD website, which has also added a page of information on practical ways to help Ukraine.
8:20 PM ET
Earlier today, WPP CEO Mark Read sent a memo to the holding company’s staff, referencing its 200 employees in Ukraine. The company’s Ukraine leaders have been in touch with their teams twice daily, according to the memo. WPP paid an “additional amount” to its Ukraine employees last week to help meet their immediate needs and has given them access to medical advice and other practical resources, Read wrote.
The memo describes how colleagues across WPP have been aiding the Ukraine effort, including WPP’s Warsaw campus collecting items people will need such as mattresses and children’s car seats, Romanian colleagues providing transport from the border to Bucharest, as well as office space and accommodations for colleagues, Prague employees collecting donations, and WPP agency Blue State partnering with The UN Refugee Agency to run an emergency fundraising appeal (supported through pro bono media work by GroupM) to help the thousands of people forced to flee their homes. WPP will be making an initial donation and matching donations by WPP employees, according to the memo.
Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn in a memo to his company shared his thoughts on what he called an “unprecedented assault in modern times on a peaceful, democratic country that is triggering unparalleled global solidarity.” In the letter, Penn explains Stagwell is assisting its agencies with people in the Ukraine region by reaching out to ensure their safety and offer support. He said he received many emails from Stagwell employees about the situation, highlighted a few who have taken action and encouraged employees to continue reaching out.
5:35 PM ET
The NHL is pausing Russian language social and digital media sites and suspending relationships with Russian business partners, the league announced today. It is also “discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.” ESPN reports the moves includ pulling games from the Russian-based Yandex internet company, which airs NHL games in a partnership that began in 2019.
5:15 PM ET
One Ukrainian beer marketer is not messing around when it comes to contributing to the country’s war effort. Reuters reports that Pravda Beer Brewery in Lviv, Ukraine is making Molotov cocktails in bottles with labels including an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to euronews.com, one of the brewery’s offerings, Putin Huylo, translates to “Putin is a dickhead.”
Pravda Beer Brewery in the western city of Lviv, Ukraine, has decided to contribute to the war effort by making Molotov cocktails in bottles with labels featuring images of Russian President Vladimir Putin https://t.co/wTcq7M91Hk pic.twitter.com/9u6EGJhoQh
2:40 PM ET
Airbnb is offering free short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing the Russian invasion of their country and will work with neighboring European states to provide long-term stays. Leaders from the San Francisco-based company, including CEO Brian Chesky, wrote to the governments of Poland, Romania, Germany and Hungary offering support for housing refugees, according to a statement from Airbnb. The housing will be funded by the company, donors and hosts on the platform. While the crisis is still ongoing, more than 300,000 Ukrainians have left following Russia’s invasion and the European Commission forecasts that the number could grow to millions.
12:05 PM ET
U.K.financial comparison website Compare the Market is pulling its long-running ad campaign, which features Russian-accented meerkats, from news bulletins due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The popular campaign by agency VCCP and animation company Passion Pictures has been running since 2009 and features an animated Russian oligarch-type character, Alexsandr Orlov, and his friends and family. The campaign has won several awards and has included spin-off merchandise including furry meerkats and a volume of “memoirs” by the main character.
A spokesperson told The Guardian: “The Comparethemarket meerkats are fictional characters. They have no association with Russia and the current situation. We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure we’re being sensitive to the current situation.”
11:15 AM ET
Several states have begun pulling Russia-made vodka from shelves, reports liquor trade publication Shanken News Daily. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Utah and New Hampshire—so-called control states that have authority over the sale of distilled spirits—are among those taking action. The biggest Russia-made brand is Russia Standard, according to Shanken, which notes that the value of Russian vodka shipped to the U.S. last year totaled $21.4 million, which amounts to a 1.5% share of the total $1.42 billion in imported vodka.
Reports Shanken: “Several states have been careful to point out that some brands with Russian heritage, such as Smirnoff and Stolichnaya, are not made in Russia, and therefore will be exempt from the bans.”
Smirnoff, which is owned by Diageo, notes on its Twitter page that it is “Proudly made in America.”
Read the latest news on how brands and agencies are responding to the Ukraine war.
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