Another high-level exit at WPP, and unemployment filings may hide worse news: Friday Wake-Up Call
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John O'Keeffe, worldwide chief creative officer at WPP, has left the company, in a departure announced in a memo by CEO Mark Read. “As you know, under our new strategy we’ve strengthened our agency brands and increased investment in their creative talent,” Read wrote, according to Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. “As part of that, we’ve placed greater responsibility for creative standards with the agencies themselves, which is the reason that John will be leaving us. He does so with our very best wishes,” he added.
After 18 years at Publicis Groupe’s BBH, O’Keeffe joined WPP in 2008, hired by former CEO Martin Sorrell. The news comes just a few days after another high-level exit put in motion by Read—that of Ogilvy Worldwide CEO-Chairman John Seifert, who will step down next year after 41 years at the agency.
Grocery workers have been labeled “essential” to keeping a quarantined public fed and safe. But workers themselves often face a severe lack of protective equipment and crowded workplaces. Today, on International Workers’ Day, employees at Amazon, Whole Foods, Walmart, Instacart, FedEx and Target are on strike, demanding compensation for unpaid time off, paid sick leave, protective equipment and cleaning supplies and for companies to release the number of their coworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The coalition of union and non-union workers is asking the public not to shop at those stores today. It’s the latest in a series of strikes by workers at the businesses, but it’s the first time strikers have coordinated their efforts across companies.
Yesterday, Amazon announced $75.5 billion in sales in Q1, 26 percent higher than last year. The company “says it will spend $4 billion in the current quarter to raise safety standards and keep delivering to homes,” writes Ad Age’s Garett Sloane. “Amazon said it bought 100 million masks to outfit employees, and it invested in thermal cameras and thermometers to monitor potential symptoms of COVID-19 among workers. Amazon is building a testing regiment, too, to detect COVID outbreaks at its workplaces.”
A staggering 30 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks, after an additional 3.8 million people filed in the last week. While the numbers are huge, the pace of job losses appears to be slowing for now, with few jobs left to lose in industries like restaurants and hospitality.
But even those enormous numbers might be downplaying the scale of the devastation. State unemployment systems have been overloaded and backlogged, with many people unable to successfully file or still waiting to be processed. A recent study found that as many as 50 percent more people either wanted to file for unemployment benefits but couldn’t or were dissuaded from filing due to the difficulty of the process, even though they would have been eligible.
Following yesterday’s news that Starbucks plans to reopen nearly all of its stores in some capacity, Macy’s is set to start reopening stores on Monday. The retailer expects all of its locations will be open again within eight weeks. “However, not all stores will be fully operational. Some will have certain areas open or fulfillment stations, or simply curbside pickup for customers unwilling to enter the store,” writes Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli.
The move will likely only stem losses, though, with next week’s sales expected to be just a fifth of normal volume. “To make up for such losses, Macy’s has cut back its marketing dollars, including its digital search advertising,” Pasquarelli writes. It is also examining ways to safely continue its Fourth of July fireworks in New York City and the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Caught with its pants down: Videoconferencing platform Zoom is retracting a previous claim that it has 300 million daily users. Turns out its actually 300 million daily participants. Every time anyone joins a meeting, they count as a participant, no matter how many meetings they join in a day. And whose schedule only includes one Zoom meeting a day?
Logos on lockdown: Legally required to wear a face mask in public but just hate that the only ones you have were sewn by your aunt’s friend? Now brands like Disney and Nike have branded masks for sale. “You can now rep your favorite NBA, NFL, NHL or MLS teams with masks, support your favorite musician with Universal Music Group’s line of face masks or show off your fashion sense with Alice + Olivia’s character logo spread across your mouth,” writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing. They’re selling out, so hurry.
Soda silence: Coke is dropping two new coronavirus themed ads today in international markets—but they won’t get much paid support. In an interview with Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz, global CMO Manuel Arroyo explains why the drinks giant has been ‘intentionally quiet’ during the pandemic.
Livestream of the day: Quibi CEO Meg Whitman chats with Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi about launching a streaming service in the middle of a pandemic. In the week after its debut on Apr. 6, the platform landed 1.7 million subscribers. Catch the conversation live at 10 a.m. ET today. Shouldn’t take longer than 2.5 Quibis.
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