For weeks now, Americans have received conflicting reports on the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump has waffled over whether it is a hoax or not. Some students have returned from semesters abroad, while others transition to online distance learning. But, as always, Americans can rest assured that there will be one constant in these trying times: capitalism.
Since March 11, I have received 25 emails from various corporations letting me know that they’ve got a handle on coronavirus even if I, a human being with no plan, do not. Based on my completely subjective criteria of how much I laughed at the idea of this brand addressing the coronavirus and how helpful the email actually was, here are my top 10 corporate coronavirus emails of the moment.
Social Print Studio
Social Print Studio, a photo-printing outfit that specializes in making art out of social media posts, has a message for me, and the message is: coronavirus is a bummer. Their email, which ends by asking how they can best help those vulnerable to coronavirus, is sort of like a Facebook post you would see from a really spiritual aunt. The only notable news is that they do not plan to cease printing at this time.
Chick-fil-A, the land of a thousand sauces, has heard about coronavirus and really doesn’t have much to say about it. While all stores will follow CDC guidelines for sanitation and cleanliness, individual store plans will be left up to the franchise owners.
Barnes & Noble
While some public relations departments might be looking at the spread of COVID-19 as a time to address their sanitation practices and inform customers about new policies meant to reassure the most fearful among us, Barnes & Noble has chosen a different approach. The three-sentence email they sent out at 9 p.m. on Friday feels like it’s less about best health practices and more about, for lack of a better word, vibing.
“Dear Reader,” the email reads. “We’re living through turbulent times together. Our booksellers are your neighbors, your friends and family. Your stories are our stories, and we know how resilient our communities are.”
Lush makes the list only because their email begins by referring to its recipients as “Loyal Lushies,” which is simultaneously gross and sweet. The company also gets points for information, as they plan to remove all product demonstrations and testers from their stores. They’ve also established a “cross-functional taskforce,” whatever that means, which will meet daily and strategize ways for the company to follow guidance from health officials.
T-Mobile, perhaps best known for being a cellular phone provider and having a weirdly internet-famous CEO, has decided to raise all data plans to unlimited and add more mobile hotspot capabilities. They’re also providing paid time off to employees who cannot work from home.
This email could have been void of content and I still would have ranked it highly, because the idea of IHOP sending me an email about a public health crisis is something I never would have dreamed of. IHOP, a restaurant whose general cleanliness I have never taken for granted, is going to start “taking additional precautionary steps to increase the frequency of the cleaning and disinfecting happening in their restaurants.” Most notably, the restaurant’s plan includes asking that customers who “may suspect they’re sick” to not come grab a meal at their local IHOP.
First and foremost, I would like to thank our friends at Panda Express for implementing sick leave and financial assistance for their workers, thus making me feel mildly better about all of the sweetfire chicken that I will inevitably be buying over the next two weeks. I also have to give big points for both the salutation and sign-off on this email, which identify me as a “valued guest” and identify the staff of Panda Express as members of the “Panda Family,” which is adorable and deserving of recognition.
There really isn’t anything funny to say about the Publix email, but I am running out of Clorox wipes and really need to get groceries, so it was soothing to me on an emotional level. Publix is mostly doing a lot of normal things, like humble-bragging that their “routine cleaning and sanitation standards already meet CDC guidelines” and suspending live cooking demonstrations in stores until further notice.
First off, BurgerFi gets points for their subject line, “BurgerFi Cares,” because, frankly, this is a dark time, and it’s always nice to know that I have a friend in a faceless corporation that sells burgers. As someone who never eats at BurgerFi but does think about eating at BurgerFi, this email meant nothing to me. But it was helpful! Like everyone else on the list, BurgerFi is listening to WHO and the CDC and disinfecting the restaurant more often, but they also note that “in some cases, we may either close or move to a delivery-only service model,” and delivery orders will continue to be sealed before leaving the restaurant, which is nice.
On the surface level, this is one of the most boring emails I’ve ever read. But Starbucks, as in all things they do, has sent out an email that is sometimes so overserious that it veers toward hilarity. Take, for example, the email’s hyperlink to a more in-depth discussion of the business’ experience in China, which includes the sentence “They were wrestling with a decision that would become one of the most momentous in Starbucks history.” That decision was to shut down stores while still paying employees, which is certainly a nice thing, though for a billion-dollar company, I’m not inclined to herald them as heroes. The post also goes on to describe the chairman of Starbucks China as having “lived and breathed the company’s mission,” which is the weirdest abstraction out of any of these emails by far. Like BurgerFi, Starbucks plans to move forward with arms full of disinfectant and individual plans for stores in areas that may require closures or drive-thru-only scenarios.