The drug store chain has been the exclusive retailer of Red Nose Day for the past five years, selling red noses in its stores across the country to raise money for the campaign to end child poverty, which is spearheaded by nonprofit Comic Relief.
While Walgreens’ 9,277 stores (as of last Aug. 31) across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still open, as they are considered essential businesses, the company wanted to find a way to continue its efforts for Red Nose Day while at the same time encouraging people to follow social distancing guidelines, stay home unless they are replenishing vital items and not touch their faces.
“Somewhere in a Walgreens distribution center are hundreds of thousands of red noses that we put in storage,” senior vice president and chief operating officer Pat McLean said. “We don’t want to encourage people to put something on their face when you’re telling them not to touch their face.”
So, the drug store chain turned to social platforms as it pivoted its strategy.
From now through May 30, shoppers can donate online via the Walgreens site to unlock a special Red Nose filter that can be shared via Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, encouraging friends and family to follow suit.
In-store shoppers can still donate by telling their cashiers upon checkout.
All donations will go to Red Nose Day, with organizations set to benefit this year including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Health Fund, City Year, Covenant House, Feeding America, The Global Fund, International Rescue Committee, Laureus Sport for Good, Save the Children and UnidosUS.
“There has never been a more important time to address things like child poverty,” McLean said. “We wanted to raise as much money as we can without the physical red nose: Let’s not lose the idea of a red nose, but let’s take it digital. The platforms have been great partners, very supportive. Supplier partners like Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble are also supporting the cause.”
Walgreens president Richard Ashworth added, “Red Nose Day has always been about celebrating kindness and caring, and our commitment to support children in need is more urgent than ever before. The digital red nose is a simple and safe way for people to provide immediate support to the children and communities that are most vulnerable to the Covid-19 health pandemic, especially at a time when physical distance makes traditional ways of helping difficult.”
NBC will air The Red Nose Day Special Thursday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET.