Remote work opens new doors for the agency-brand relationship: Tuesday Wake-Up Call
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The pandemic is far from over, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and agencies and brands are beginning to wonder what their relationships will look like once air travel and business lunches are options again.
“Working from home has leveled the playing field for the industry, making it increasingly evident that shops do not need to be as physically close to their clients as once presumed,” writes Ad Age’s Jack Neff. “The question is how much pre-pandemic practices and preferences will return and how much work will remain remote. But almost no one expects things to go back to quite the way they were.”
WPP CEO Mark Read hasn’t left London since the beginning of the pandemic (unlike several prominent British politicians), but he says he’s spent 75% more time with clients in the last year than the year before. Remote pitching also open doors for agencies outside the ad hubs and increases the options for brands headquartered in far-flung places without direct flights.
In-house agencies could suffer, though, since keeping everyone “under one roof” is no longer feasible—or even desirable.
March Madness is in full swing, and the college basketball tournament (and its associated merch) has been lucrative for the NCAA for decades. But the association has prevented its women’s tournament from using the trademarked phrase, despite appeals from women’s basketball leadership, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Instead, the women’s tournament must use the hashtag @ncaawbb, and its app is called “NCAA DI Women’s Basketball. The refusal by the NCAA to extend its branding bonanza to women’s teams reflects the sheer pettiness of the exclusion that female athletes have traditionally faced, despite performing at the same level or better than their male counterparts, as any Huskies fan can attest. Whether due to malice or oversight, women athletes are paid less, train with fewer resources and even face discrimination from their sponsors.
Nike recently came under fire for celebrating pregnant athletes, just a few years after changing its own policy that penalized sponsored athletes for getting pregnant. And last week, the NCAA was forced to improve the weight room facilities for the women’s tournament after a video highlighting the disparities with the men’s amenities went viral (in the middle of Women’s History Month, no less).
Dallas agency The Richards Group is still reeling from the fallout from racist comments made by its founder in October. But one silver lining is the number of new, independent shops spawned by talent looking to leave the agency.
“At least three have hung up their shingle since the beginning of the year: Baker & Bonner Creative Emporium, PlotTwist Creativity and Trace Element,” writes Ad Age’s Judann Pollack. Baker & Bonner was started by the creatives responsible for Jeep’s 2013 Super Bowl spot “God Made a Farmer,” while PlotTwist Creativity and Trace Element work with former Richards Group clients that liked the relationship but withdrew their business on principle. If you’ve been thinking about hanging up your own shingle, there probably isn’t a more obvious sign from the universe.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold off his very first tweet as a non-fungible token for $2.9 million, CNBC reports. The sum was paid by Bridge Oracle CEO Sina Estavi, apparently to make a point about crypto and the importance of NFTs. (Investing $2.9 million into anything is a pretty easy way to indicate that it has value, though perhaps a little on the nose.) Fortunately, the real winner was nonprofit GiveDirectly’s Africa fund, to which Dorsey donated the proceeds.
Plenty of brands are hopping on the NFT craze, and Time is auctioning off three of its own based on several of its most memorable covers.
Food forethought: Ad Age Next: Food & Beverage takes place today. If you haven't registered yet, there's still time before sessions start at 11 a.m. EDT. Hear from brands like Anheuser-Busch, Gatorade and Buffalo Wild Wings, and how they are keeping up with evolving consumer behavior. Tickets are available here.
It’s pronounced Le-goff: Lego has turned “The Starry Night,” Vincent Van Gogh’s post-mutilation masterpiece, into plastic brick art. Designed by Ph.D. student Truman Cheng, the kit was submitted to Lego’s Ideas site, and enough users voted for it to make it a reality, according to DesignBoom. The 1,552-piece kit also comes with a Lego figurine Van Gogh, complete with brush, palette and easel.
FTC FTW: Antitrust advocates are rejoicing over President Joe Biden nomination of Columbia Law School Professor Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission. Khan has long been a skeptic of the power of Big Tech, writes Bloomberg. She a proponent of breaking them up, and she was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, which investigated Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
Eyes on the prize: Taxpayers who haven’t received their stimulus payments via direct deposit by Wednesday will receive paper checks in the mail, the Treasury Department announced. It could take several weeks for checks to make their way to mailboxes, so keep an eye out. And check with the IRS if you think you should have received your stimulus but haven’t.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
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