Ukraine-Russia war: How brands should respond

Support your employees

While a CEO might be taking actions around sanctions, a CMO has a responsibility to make sure employees are taken care of and understand their company’s response.

“The CMO is going to be focused more on making sure internally employees are supported and also that the messaging, the transparency of the messaging internally is there,” said Jenny Rooney, managing director and co-founder of Black Glass Consulting’s CMO House, a CMO consultancy.

Giuda said there is an opportunity for CMOs to take a leadership role at their organizations and make sure that the company is complying with sanctions and paying attention to public reactions to inform their responses.


“This is a precedent-setting moment—the statements and actions brands are taking or not taking is setting a new precedent for how business leaders are expected to respond to an invasion and a democracy under threat,” she said.

Online marketing company Vista, which acquired Ukraine-based Depositphotos in the fall, put together “Say No to War,” a free online gallery of images depicting the war in Ukraine and protests in Russia. Journalists and others are able to use the images to spread awareness.

“This isn’t a marketing initiative—this is us supporting our teammates,” said Ricky Engelberg, CMO at Vista, noting that Vista has some 450 employees in the Kyiv area. He said the company has had a steady stream of communication internally about how to help, and those in Ukraine said the best way to assist was to shine a light on what’s happening on the ground there. “It wasn’t necessarily a ‘Let’s set up a meeting to discuss this,’” Engelberg said. “It was just a thing that emerged after Russia attacked that was an easy next step for us to show our support.”

Related: Cannes Lions bans Russian entries and delegates

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Ukraine-Russia war: How brands should respond


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