Duracell sends disaster-relief to parts of New York

November 01, 2012  |  Jack Neff for Advertising Age  |  Comments

Procter & Gamble‘s Duracell brand helped Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on Wednesday, arriving in New York’s Batter Park (where else?) to lend the city’s storm-battered and power-starved residents a hand.

When Duracell rolled out its Power Forward Community Center two years ago and its Rapid Responder four-by-four truck this year, little did it know the efforts would be needed so close to home.

Both are outfitted with charging stations for mobile phones and devices as well as computers with internet access to allow people affected by natural disasters to use their email and social-media accounts. Today, working out of the Duracell offices powered by a generator, spokesman Win Sakdinan decided it was time to send the power-relief center to Battery Park and the Rapid Responder to roam the streets of New York and New Jersey. Both units are also giving out samples of the most-popular sizes of batteries to restock radios and flashlights.

The Battery Park part was “a total fluke,” said Sakdinan. “We’re sending the power-relief center to Lower Manhattan because it’s a high concentration of people and one of the hardest-hit. But there are some areas in New York and New Jersey that can’t be reached with that, and the Rapid Responder is more agile because it’s just a 4 x 4.”

The decision to move the relief center to Lower Manhattan drew more than 1,300 likes from the brand’s 1.8 million Facebook fans in only two hours.

The Rapid Response unit, which has been in Lower Manhattan since late Wednesday, made its maiden voyage only about a month ago to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, said Sakdinan.

From a marketing perspective, he said, “This is what the brand is about — empowering people through devices; connecting their families.”

For its employees, Duracell has opened its offices for them to take showers and charge their phones, since most, like Sakdinan, have no power at home.

The brand also operates a Mobile Command Center to respond to retailers in need or restocking, he said. But many, including his local Walmart, remain well stocked with batteries, despite being out of bottled water.

“You prepare as much as you can, but demand from consumers can be unpredictable,” said Sakdinan.

Duracell began local advertising last week in advance of Sandy urging consumers to stock up on batteries, he said. There may be a silver lining for the brand in the increase in volatile weather in the U.S., as Duracell earlier this year rolled out Dura-Lock technology that promises batteries can be stored up to 10 years for emergency use without losing power.

This story originally appeared in Advertising Age.

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