With hundreds of millions of people around the globe in lockdown or tentatively getting back to a ‘new normal’, household care and laundry products are in high demand. Cleaning and disinfecting our homes and clothes has jumped in priority as we look to protect ourselves and our families.
People have more than doubled how often they clean, with 86% changing the way they clean their homes and 66% changing the way they wash their clothes.
They are also looking for more help and advice, particularly online. There has been a 40% increase in traffic to the Cleanipedia website, which gives cleaning tips and advice on how to clean your house.
Unilever has some of the world’s most recognisable – and effective – bleach, surface cleaner and laundry detergent brands. Household names like Domestos, Cif and OMO.
And since our products are used every day by over a billion consumers in 190 countries, we’re using that scale and reach to help people not only get access to the products they need, but also allay their concerns when it comes to the rights and wrongs of cleaning protection.
“The pandemic has been a reminder to the world just how important hygiene is and, as a business, we were founded on the mission to make hygiene commonplace,” says Peter ter Kulve, President of our Home Care division.
“Our brands, suppliers and partners around the world have been working at a record pace to ensure we not only provide essential products to people, but that we add benefit to their lives too. From public awareness campaigns, to launching new antibacterial ranges, to helping the most vulnerable, our brands have shown the true power when we all come together.”
Here are a few examples of how our brands have been helping people cope in the crisis.
Domestos runs a public service campaign (1 of 11)
As the coronavirus started to spread, Unilever’s carelines became inundated with people calling for advice on home and personal hygiene.
In the early stages, public guidance focused on social distancing and handwashing, despite growing evidence that disinfecting hard surfaces in the home was just as important. It was clear that we needed to step in and complement the advice of government and public health bodies.
Domestos launched a TV, social media and print campaign to educate people on the importance of targeted and safe cleaning with bleach. This has reached almost half a billion people.
The initiative started in the UK and is now being rolled out to other markets, strengthened by reassuring results from a recent laboratory test showing that bleach* is 99.99% effective against SARS-CoV-2.
*Domestos Thick Bleach
Fast launch of all-new range in Turkey (2 of 11)
With the spread of Covid-19, people are increasingly seeking out products that provide extra hygiene and cleaning benefits. Social listening in Turkey showed that ‘laundry’ was one of the most talked about topics and there was a spike in OMO mentions in laundry hygiene conversations.
This gave the team an idea.
With OMO as a strong player in fabric solutions and sales of Domestos – the leading brand of bleach – surging, they came up with a way of combining the power of both.
And so, OMO Powder Detergent with the Domestos Effect was born. Fast-tracking the project from idea to shipping in just 40 days, they managed to launch Turkey’s first-ever Hygiene Laundry Range in record time.
Cif collaborates to help vulnerable families in São Paulo (3 of 11)
Unilever Brazil teamed up with brewing company Heineken to manufacture a special batch of Cif household cleaner. Around 270,000 bottles of the alcohol-based sanitiser were distributed to families in over 200 of São Paulo's most socially vulnerable favelas.
The product – which took just 20 days from initial idea to production – was made with alcohol from Heineken and all the other ingredients used in Cif.
In addition to the brewing giant, the initiative brought together eight partner organisations. All of whom donated their time, expertise or materials for free.
“More than ever, a joint effort is necessary to help us get through such a difficult situation,” says Eduardo Campanella, our VP of Marketing in Brazil. “The project clearly shows how, by working together, we can achieve more.”
Comfort continues much-loved Ramadan campaign (4 of 11)
In the Middle East, Comfort rolled out its annual Ramadan community campaign, despite having to work a bit differently this year.
Running throughout the holy month – which is a time for increased charity and generosity – ‘Share A Touch of Love’ encourages people to donate clothes to those in need.
This is usually done at central collection points but, with strict lockdown rules in place, the team arranged for them to be picked up from homes instead.
The clothes are washed with Comfort and OMO before being distributed by local charities.
Recipient families look forward to wearing the clothes during Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration that marks the breaking of the fast.
In ten years of the campaign, the brand has collected over a million items.
Lysoform helps reopen culture and tourism in Rome (5 of 11)
In Italy, our home hygiene brand Lysoform has been helping Rome’s culture and tourism sector reopen for business by cleaning the city’s main visitor attractions, including museums and monuments.
The initiative received huge press coverage, but it’s much more than a one-off, purpose-led activation.
In fact, it’s the start of a new business model which will see Lysoform market sanitation services alongside selling cleaning products. It will be the first brand in the country to do so.
“The pandemic put a strain on our country,” says Marketing Director Ugo De Giovanni. “We wanted to contribute to the reopening of places symbolic of Italian art, giving a concrete sign of rebirth.”
Driving confidence in a new normal (6 of 11)
Unilever International has teamed up with ride-hailing and delivery firm Uber to provide hygiene kits to its drivers and couriers across the UK, with the aim of keeping everyone who uses the app as healthy and safe as possible.
The kits include products such as Cif (Jif) Antibacterial Multi-Purpose Spray and Lifebuoy alcohol-based hand gel. The partnership is also providing educational materials and training to drivers and couriers.
“Safe transportation plays a crucial role as we move into a new normal. As people begin to venture out, we must collectively ensure that health and safety remains the absolute priority,” says CEO Alan Jope.
The project is now expanding across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Bringing the spirit of the outdoors in (7 of 11)
For years, our OMO brand – or Persil, Surf Excel, Rinso or Breeze depending on where you live – has encouraged children’s outdoor play and its benefits for their wellbeing and development.
But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. And so, with lockdowns in place and schools closed, we’ve encouraged kids to play indoors instead.
Our Home is Good campaign gave parents an array of tools and inspiration to bring inside the spirit of the outdoors, to help keep their children entertained.
We adapted the campaign to suit local markets. In Argentina, for example, we ran livestream Q&A sessions with a respected child therapist. In the UK, we partnered with National Geographic Kids to provide ideas to bring the spirit of the outdoors in during .
Turkey launches Ultra Hygiene Range and initiates Hygiene Movement (8 of 11)
Cif shifted its media plan to Covid-relevant communication. As part of the campaign, the team partnered with 14 influencers who were tasked with using different Cif products to clean their homes and inviting their friends to join their Cleaning Challenge. In total, this activation reached 5 million people.
Cif and Domestos initiated a ‘Hygiene Movement’ in partnership with major online retailer Hepsiburada to donate products to those in need. The initiative was announced on the popular TV programme Survivor, and has so far picked up over 50 million impressions on digital.
Also, in response to the increased demand for hygiene products, Cif launched an Ultra Hygiene Range. This went from idea to shelf in just six weeks, and the first signals have been positive.
China speeds up launch of new brand (9 of 11)
China was due to launch its new plant-based disinfectant brand – Botanical Hygiene – at the end of March. But as soon as Covid-19 struck, the team decided to accelerate the launch by a month to meet the growing demand for effective, natural cleaning supplies.
That decision came with several major challenges, including factory workers and other Unilever personnel not being back at work yet, lack of raw materials to meet production demand and the fact that many suppliers were closed for the Spring Festival.
Production capacity was increased. Raw material supplies were reorganised, which included working with the government to ensure materials could be imported, despite restrictions. And the roll-out strategy was adjusted to ensure Hubei and other frontline areas received priority deliveries.
Seventh Generation joins Earth Day Live (10 of 11)
This year marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world on 22 April to show support for environmental protection.
With ‘climate action’ as this year's theme, the occasion planned to bring people physically together across a series of events. But Covid-19 prompted a dramatic shift onto digital and virtual platforms.
Earth Day Live was a first-of-its-kind, 72-hour livestream with stories, performances and conversations to push for action at every level of society.
Seventh Generation supported in a number of ways, including co-convening a working group of like-minded businesses supporting the youth climate movement. It also used brand channels to promote the event, highlight youth climate leaders and amplify the livestream.
Freedom to breathe during lockdown (11 of 11)
Our air purifier business, Blueair, which has a unique technology that traps and kills germs, has also been busy during the coronavirus lockdown.
In China, Singapore and Malaysia, we donated more than 600 purifiers to hospitals and Covid-19 Quarantine Centres to help protect patients, medical staff and scientists. In the coming months, we’ll be launching our new HealthProtect series to provide 24/7 protection against viruses and bacteria.
In the UK, we donated 50 units to the famous Eton College. The college is providing schooling to the children of health workers at four local hospitals, as well as rooms to those staff who can’t go home because they have family members who are self-isolating. The Blueair purifiers are being used in the college’s boarding houses and dining hall.
And in Japan, 100 daycare centres for critical health workers’ children have been equipped with Blueair purifiers to help fight the virus.
Every brand in our business is doing things differently through the pandemic. Here are just a few ways they’ve moved fast to support consumers and key workers all over the world.
Learn more about our product donations, activism, advocacy and entrepreneurship programmes
From two factories in January to 61 in May: scaling up production through the pandemic.