American cheese and golf get a quarantine boost: Thursday Wake-Up Call
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Now that every household needs a stocked pantry, demand is on the rise for non-perishable, familiar goods that had fallen out of fashion in recent years among the cool and cultured set. “Millennials shied away from American cheese, because it was too processed—and perhaps too orange,” writes Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli.
“They stopped using napkins because, in a pinch, paper towels would do just fine. And golf was fine for older parents but not hip enough to gain interest with younger generations.” But all three are becoming favorites again. Napkin sales are up 43 percent, as families stuck at home try to fancy up their dinners.
Cereal is seeing a resurgence, too, as the everyday brunches of early quarantine give way to cold bowls of scarfed oats in front of the computer. Online beer sales doubled, too, though no word yet on whether that’s a new breakfast trend.
The early days of the pandemic gave us heartfelt (and often cheesy) messages from brands swearing to stand by customers in their hour of need. But not on YouTube, where 80 percent of ads last month had nothing to do with the coronavirus, according to CNBC’s Megan Graham.
And advertisers that chose not to address the pandemic didn’t suffer. The piano and pathos-heavy spots weren’t necessarily bad (although many of them were), but they performed no better than ads that didn’t mention coronavirus. Instead, simple ads with low production values seem to be winning over YouTube viewers.
There’s been speculation that big burger chains will be able to weather temporary shutdowns better than mom-and-pop restaurants. But McDonald’s has set aside $40 million to help some of its stores, particularly those in malls and airports. Another $100 million will be distributed to franchisees for additional marketing.
There are limits to the generosity coming from corporate, though. Even in the mid-pandemic era, franchisees will be responsible for staying financially solvent, and McDonald’s is admitting, at least internally, that some franchisees will need to sell off or close locations.
Job losses and deaths due to the coronavirus have fallen disproportionately on people of color, especially African Americans and Hispanics. A new campaign from Procter & Gamble, “Estamos Unidos,” speaks to the more than 61 percent of U.S. Hispanics who have lost jobs or wages in recent months.
The spot from Circulo Creativo USA and Alma “kicks off a collective Month of Action starting May 21 to recruit corporations, relief organizations and individuals to address the impact of COVID-19 on Hispanics,” writes Ad Age’s Jack Neff.
The initiative comes a month after P&G’s Old Spice took a break from its usual comedic messaging to address the pandemic’s effect on African Americans.
Demand for hair dye is up eightfold at Madison Reed, which sells hair coloring kits complete with online instructions. “The company positions its hair color as being less toxic than other kits and says its DIY products are much less expensive and require a lot less time than going to the salon,” CEO Amy Errett tells Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl on the latest episode of the “Marketer’s Brief” podcast.
The brand had to shut down all of its brick-and-mortar locations, but it transitioned its colorists to a call center, where customers can ask questions about technique from the very people who would have done their hair in-person. Marketing efforts, which are handled in-house, have also been ramped up, and the company has seen good returns from Facebook and Instagram ads, as well as “house party” live events that walk customers through the hair-dying process.
'The Future of Creativity': Ad Age's Creativity Awards are going virtual with an entire week of daily online programming (beginning June 15) that will focus on the very best in creativity and how it is fueling marketers and agencies through this crisis.
Car trouble: A Volkswagen ad that ran on Instagram has been pulled due to an apparently racist characterization of a dark-skinned man manipulated by a disembodied white hand. No agencies have been singled out as part of the production, and the automaker’s U.S. agency Johannes Leonardo denied any involvement in the post that appears to have come out of the brand’s German headquarters.
If you build it: Lowe’s bested rival home-improvement store Home Depot in the first quarter, with sales up 11 percent to Home Depot’s 6.4 percent. Lowe’s stayed open later, even with shortened work hours, and leveraged its locations outside of major metropolitan areas. It also advertised more, going ahead with its “Spring Black Friday” event and sponsoring the virtual NFL draft.
Cry me a river: One of the biggest anxieties of social distancing is being unable to control the actions of other people. If good sense and reason won’t keep people at a safe distance, try Burger King’s new Social Distancing Whopper, with three times the onions for a pungent reminder to stay away.
Behind the mask: We’re all learning to “smize” with masks on these days, but the Apple iPhone’s facial recognition can’t read our faces while we do it. The new iOS 13.5 update lets users input their passcode right away, without needing to wait for the system to finally realize it has no idea who you are.
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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