The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the world, and it’s during apocalyptic times like these that you tend to start hearing from people from your past. But now it’s not just people from your past: These days it’s businesses, too. As many have noted, the weeks leading up to the coronavirus have been marked by a strange phenomenon whereby every restaurant you’ve ever eaten at or business you’ve ever patronized, no matter how long ago, has felt the need to email you to let you know that they’re taking this very seriously.
My colleague Gabriel Roth has referred to the way brands automatically subscribe you to their email lists like this as “a little digital STD,” so maybe it’s fitting that a virus is causing all our inboxes to become inflamed. But still, it sure seems like previous plagues haven’t involved intercepting quite so many messages from brands. Inevitably, some have felt more necessary than others. Like, I can see wanting to know that my gym was stepping up its cleaning regimen, back when my gym was still open … but I’m less in need of a heartfelt pep talk from a retailer known for its ugly sandals. Below, I’ve trawled social media and the inboxes of everyone I work with to bring you the best and worst examples of brands’ vitally important COVID-19 email updates, helpfully grouped into categories ranging from “Uh, OK, Thanks for Letting Me Know … ?” to “Wait, Who?” These were sent at various times throughout the past few weeks, so rest assured that the waxing salon letting you know how hygienic it was circa March 13 has probably now closed its doors. Stay safe out there!
Uh, OK, Thanks for Letting Me Know … ?
(aka the Companies You Least Expected to Have Something to Say About Coronavirus)
Company: Taco Bell
Choice excerpt: “Like most of you, I’ve been reading the news about the spread of coronavirus and I am convinced that Taco Bell, our franchisees and team members have an obligation to do something to help stop this from spreading.”
An “obligation”! I don’t know about that, but it’s true that we need to protect Taco Bell at all costs.
Company: Party City
Subject line: “An Update From Our CEO, Brad Weston”
Choice excerpt: “We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly to do what is best for the public health and safety and provide updates at PartyCity.com and through our social channels. … Be safe, and we look forward to celebrating with you soon.”
Pray that one day soon we will party [city] again.
Company: Thinx, a company best known for selling underwear women can wear during menstruation
Choice excerpt: “Dear Thinx Inc. community,
As efforts to contain COVID-19 continue, we hope you’re supported in taking every measure to protect your health and the health of those around you.”
In case you were worried about period underwear brand Thinx in the time of the coronavirus … don’t be!
Company: JNCO, the clothing brand that’s synonymous with its extra extra wide-leg jeans from the 1990s
Choice excerpt: “Once again, we wish you health, peace, and safety during this time. All the best, Team JNCO”
JNCO: Applying the principles of PLUR to the coronavirus.
Company: Lilly Pulitzer, the preppy retailer of women’s clothing and accessories
Subject line: “March 16 Update from Lilly Pulitzer regarding COVID-19”
I wish I knew what this email from Lilly contained, but I’m not in a high-enough income bracket to have received it, alas.
Company: Blue Apron, the meal kit service
Subject line: “Blue Apron’s statement on COVID-19”
Choice excerpt: “We’re here for you. Our aim is to be your trusted meal kit solution, because we believe that home cooking is important now more than ever—and our intent is to deliver fresh, delicious meals right to your door.”
My meal-kit delivery service, also here for me.
Company: Marine Layer, a fashion retailer of surfer-style clothing
Subject line: “A note to our community”
Choice excerpt: “I’m not sure what a note from a brand can provide in these anxious and fearful times. … As I write this, I’m wearing the first tee we ever made about 10 years ago. It’s my favorite piece of clothing. I was wearing it when both of my children were born, and it remains connected to countless other fond memories. It’s a comforting reminder of better days to come. I hope all of you have something just as meaningful that provides you with a similar sense of comfort during these trying times.”
Upscale T-shirts are actually incredibly meaningful during a pandemic, got it.
Badly Timed Sales Pitches
Company: Honeygrow, a fast-casual food chain or, ahem, “restaurant concept”
Subject line: “To Our Healthcare Heroes”
Choice excerpt: “Healthcare professionals, we appreciate you! … Starting today, enjoy a BUY ONE, GET ONE stir-fry or salad, valid for all healthcare professionals and staff with ID.”
Doesn’t BOGO seem a little stingy? And maybe laid-off restaurant workers would benefit from this too?
Company: Julep, an online beauty retailer
Subject line: “An important message from The Julep Team”
Choice excerpt: “I wanted to check in to wish you well and thank you for being here! We’re so lucky to have you as part of our Julep family. As a special thanks, I want to give you 60% off everything—only excluding Eyeshadow 101.”
In times like these, I’m glad we can all come together over deeply discounted makeup—only excluding Eyeshadow 101, of course.
Company: Verifyle, a tool for sharing files securely
Subject line: “Use Verifyle to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.”
Choice excerpt: “These are uncertain times. But we want you to know that one thing you can count on is the security of your Verifyle account.”
I don’t really see how secure file-sharing is going to help, but thanks, Verifyle! I’m glad my accountant uses you.
Company: Everlane, the online fashion retailer
Subject line: “We’re In This Together”
Choice excerpt: “At the Everlane virtual headquarters, many of us spent the weekend grappling with our new reality and how, as a company, we can best show up and run our business during this time. A few things are clear for us: We need to come together with our customers and community. … We want to offer you meaningful value in uncertain times. We’ve always provided value through transparent pricing. But during this period we want to give back more to our customers. We intend to break our own rules and offer weekly promotions that make our everyday basics even more affordable. Look out for something new each Monday. We’re kicking off tonight with a full week of $50 denim.”
$50 denim? The real heroes.
(aka the Places You Visited or Interacted With Exactly Once, Five Years Ago)
Company: European Wax Center, a chain of hair removal salons
Subject line: “A Message From Our CEO David Berg”
Choice excerpt: “As a leader in the waxing industry, we’re keenly aware of the visibility our position can bring. We take this both as a privilege and a responsibility to always do the right thing. Because of that, and guided by the distinct principles of our brand, we have closed our corporate-owned centers, and—as of today—have strongly urged our other franchise-owned locations to follow suit. In fact, we hope all businesses in the personal care space will join us in putting the well-being of our fellow Americans first.”
Waxing right now does seem like a bad idea, come to think of it.
Company: Tawkify, a matchmaking service
Subject line: “COVID-19 Love Can’t Be Quarantined”
Choice excerpt: “We’ve adapted quickly to ensure there is no disruption of our matchmaking services, and are proactively embracing virtual introductions as a safe way to connect matches from the privacy of home until we’re free again to engage with one another in public places. Our matchmakers will plan and coordinate one-to-one video meet-up dates using Zoom, a high-quality conference platform that is truly ‘the next best thing to being there.’ ”
No disruption to matchmaking services, thank God.
Company: Wisdom Panel, a company that offers DNA tests for dogs
Subject line: “Coronavirus and dogs: What you need to know”
Choice excerpt: “We understand there are a lot of questions surrounding the impact of coronavirus on families, communities and even our pets. As partners in your dog’s health, we want to share with you the latest information. … There is limited evidence to suggest that your dog is at risk for COVID-19.”
Love to have partners in my dog’s health.
Company: Wink Brow Bar, a waxing studio that focuses on eyebrows
Subject line: “COVID -19 - A letter to clients and friends”
Choice excerpt: “To all of our Wink clients and friends,
Your health and well-being is a top priority. We would like you to rest assured that we are being diligent in complying with our hygiene protocols to ensure our guests, teams and our staff are protected and you can continue to feel confident coming to a Wink location.”
So pleased to know they care.
Choice excerpt: “We understand these are uncertain times and life may feel chaotic for everyone. At Liquor.com, it’s our mission to make you delicious cocktails, find your new favorite bottle, and stay up on the latest drink trends. The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t change this.”
It’s nice to be able to count on something.
Company: Candlescience, a candle-making supplies retailer
Subject line: “COVID-19: How We’re Responding”
Choice excerpt: “Dear CandleScience community,
We know everyone is concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak and the impacts the virus may have on our daily lives. We take the health and safety of our customers, staff, and community very seriously. As such, we are taking precautions to do our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”
Candlescience is not screwing around.
Company: Blue Planet Scuba, a Washington, D.C., dive shop
Subject line: “COVID-19: What’s a diver to do?”
Choice excerpt: “We have been fielding a lot of calls, emails and texts regarding what this means for people taking classes and preparing for dive trips. … Worried about getting your scuba fix if you are working from home and don’t want to take off your PJs? We’ve compiled a list of suggestions for keeping yourself immersed in the dive life.”
The coronavirus will *not* kill the spirit of the diving community.
Company: Hahnemühle, a German paper manufacturing company founded in 1584
Subject line: “Corona Virus Update From Hahnemühle USA Office”
Choice excerpt: “As the corona virus continues to have global impact, we wanted to reach out and outline for you the precautions we are taking to keep our employees and communities as safe as possible. We know that we must be prepared to conduct business in the face of any type of challenge.”
Helpful to hear from the only company on this list that’s actually survived past plagues.
Company: Nasty Pig, a company that sells gay fetish gear
Choice excerpt: “Now that I’m a Daddy in this community I feel it is my responsibility not to tell you to keep shopping, but to tell you that we will get through this. Humans are a resilient species, especially gay people. In fact we are the strongest motherfuckers I know.”
Only the gay fetishwear companies were truly prepared for this.