Airbnb cuts a quarter of staff and Trump’s Twitter rant helps an anti-Trump ad go viral: Wednesday Wake-Up Call
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Airbnb cuts staff by a quarter
Airbnb, one of the biggest marketing success stories of the past few years, is to slash 25 percent of its workforce as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the travel sector. As reported by Bloomberg News, Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky wrote in an email to staff Tuesday that it would lay off 1,900 staff members, with their last day next Monday May 11.
“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” Chesky wrote. “Airbnb’s business has been hit hard, with revenue this year forecasted to be less than half of what we earned in 2019.”
As part of the cutbacks, the company will be pausing its efforts in transportation and scaling back its investments in hotels and luxury travel. Since the lockdown, Airbnb has been encouraging travelers to switch to enjoying virtual experiences, as detailed by Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli in her in-depth look at the travel sector this week: for example, selling classes and workouts that consumers can do from their own living room couches. However, its expenses had already been growing before the pandemic struck and the crisis now puts Airbnb's planned IPO in jeopardy.
Trump’s Twitter rant helps ‘Mourning in America’ go viral
President Trump has helped an anti-Trump ad go viral after taking to social media to attack it. As Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco writes, in a series of late night tweets on Monday, the President attacked the team behind conservative advocacy group the Lincoln Project’s “Mourning in America,” a film that, as Ad Age reported earlier, put his handling of coronavirus in a harsh light in a play on the “Morning in America” ad from Ronald Reagan’s 1984’s re-election campaign.
But the net effect of Trump’s tweetstorm was a flood of attention to “Mourning in America.” When Ad Age first reported on the campaign on Monday, the YouTube version of the ad had a couple thousand views. With the president’s help, it has now, at the time of writing, had over one million views.
In his tweets, Trump got personal, calling the “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) team behind the ad “loser types” and singled out Lincoln Project co-founder George Conway, who is married to Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president in the Trump White House. “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface,” Trump tweeted, “but it must have been really bad.”
Production shops innovate in pandemic
With big campaigns on hold and filming halted by social distancing, production companies have been some of the industry firms hardest hit by the pandemic. As Ann-Christine Diaz reports in this week’s issue of Ad Age, many face the scenario of not seeing revenue for the next three months or more when they are already owed money: according to an AICP survey back in March, 28 percent of the companies reported were already owed in excess of $1 million. Meanwhile, owners report that booking a job is becoming even more “difficult and competitive.” And even when filming does resume, social distancing restrictions are likely to remain.
Despite this, many have continued to innovate, with directors increasingly using their own homes and families as backdrops for ads. For example: Biscuit Filmworks’ director Aaron Stoller created a story-driven ad for laundry brand Snuggle in his own home, tapping his wife and three youngest sons to be talent while his eldest son helped with the shooting.
BBH cuts U.S. staff by 20 percent
There's more sobering news from the agency world this morning: BBH has implemented layoffs in New York and Los Angeles, cutting about 20 percent its U.S. employee base, reports Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. BBH, which is the first Publicis Groupe agency to confirm layoffs related to the pandemic, employs 112 people in the U.S. A spokesperson for the agency declined to go into detail but confirmed there were staff cuts.
"COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the global business landscape," Neil Munn, group CEO of BBH, said in a statement. "Regrettably, we will be restructuring our business in line with the new realities, to ensure we have the right set-up to meet future challenges and opportunities.”
Luxury brands play ‘Animal Crossing’
With Nintendo Switch’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” fast becoming the breakout video game hit of the pandemic, luxury brands are getting in on the action. As Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, brands are creating outfits that people can “wear” in the game and then choose to buy online. For example, Marc Jacobs shared six outfits to Instagram and posted download QR codes to Instagram Stories and Twitter, while Valentino shared QR codes for 20 outfits over Instagram Stories.
If you haven't played it yet, the game involves transporting players to tropical islands where they construct their own virtual worlds and make friends with anthropomorphic animals. While that may not sound like a fashion opportunity, with people now using Animal Crossing to host virtual weddings and graduations, it’s a novel way to choose that mother of the bride look for 2020.
Baptism of fire: Marisa Thalberg, who joined Lowe’s as executive VP and chief brand and marketing officer in February, told Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli about what it’s like to be thrust into a big retail role in the middle of a pandemic. It’s “less about being very commercial and promotional in our messaging and a lot more about how do we really express the heart of this brand” she says. Read her interview here.
Spotify goes wizarding: In need of a Harry Potter fix during lockdown? Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and Dakota Fanning are among a handful of celebrities who will be reading various chapters of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Sorcerer’s Stone” exclusively on Spotify, writes Ad Age’s George P. Slefo.
Small Agency deadline: Times may be tough for agencies, and particularly small ones, but Ad Age’s Small Agency Awards is going ahead and the deadline is May 7. Given the current economic situation, no agency will be penalized for showing a loss this year. What matters is your creative product, strategic thinking, outcomes for clients and responsiveness to employees. Enter this year’s awards here.
Corona creativity of the day: As quarantine drags on and people living alone crave company, one brand has a suggestion. Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl writes that snack brand MoonPie has debuted MoonMate, an Alexa skill that it’s positioning as a virtual "roommate" who can provide company and conversation. Created by agency Tombras, like any good roommate, it will also pay you “rent” in the form of a code good for a free MoonPie item with the purchase of another one. When Wohl tested it out, it offered up some timely advice, telling someone who has been home for weeks, “Do not cut your own hair. Just don’t.” Take a look over at Creativity.
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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