Apple is the country's first $2 trillion company and The Martin Agency has a new CCO: Thursday Wake-Up Call
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On Wednesday, Apple became the first U.S. company to be valued at more than $2 trillion. The news comes just two years after the tech brand hit $1 trillion and highlights the winners and losers in the coronavirus economy—with millions of Americans out of work, essential workers and schoolchildren braving the health risks of face-to-face contact and white collar workers safely at home. It also comes as Epic Games is taking on the company over what it calls monopolistic App Store policies.
Of course, Apple’s valuation is due to a surge in its stock price, as investors flock to tech companies in a world increasingly dependent on virtual communications and experiences. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook are collectively worth nearly $3 trillion more than they were at the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., and the S&P 500 hit an all-time high this week. According to Wall Street analysts, the bear market is over, and it was the shortest one in history.
Meanwhile, CEO pay is up 14 percent, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, putting average CEO pay at 320 times that of the average worker, the largest gap since 2000.
Danny Robinson is the new chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, succeeding Karen Costello, who is rejoining Deutsch LA. Previously chief client officer, Robinson became the first African American in the shop’s C-suite in 2018, and he becomes its first Black CCO.
“Skeptics might suggest this is a symbolic choice, and they said the same thing when I became CEO and appointed Karen to CCO,” CEO Kristen Cavallo tells Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. Cavallo and Costello were the agency’s first female CEO and CCO, respectively.
“Since joining The Martin Agency, Robinson is credited with helming the agency’s largest win in history: Walmart,” Rittenhouse writes. He has also worked on accounts including Chevrolet, Hanes, Tic Tac and Oreo. Prior to moving to Richmond in 2004, he was CCO at the New York agency he founded, Vigilante.
Music fans can’t see their favorite artists in the flesh anymore. But they don’t have to, thanks to digital avatars that are popping up on virtual stages and experiential campaigns that give viewers a closer look than they’d ever get in person.
An August performance by The Weeknd drew 2 million viewers. “Through a live voting feature, viewers could decide in real-time what they wanted The Weeknd’s avatar, decked out in glowing sunglasses, to look like and do,” writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing. “He could transform the stage around him into fire or electricity; bring on visual vignettes like skulls, cards or coins; and even lick a little animated frog. Meanwhile, viewers’ names and real-time comments danced around The Weeknd in neon lights.”
Musicians including John Legend have gone digital, too, and brands including Wave and Genies specialize in creating avatars, like top-heavy bobblehead figures of Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, DJ Khaled or Serena Williams.
Johannes Leonardo’s new campaign for EA Sports’ long-running video game franchise, “Madden NFL,” features a very different kind of player in the middle of a very different kind of football season. “The effort,” writes Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz, “stars actor Keraun Harris, a.k.a ‘King Keraun,’ a TikTok and Instagram phenom whose skills at creating quick-hit comedic posts are expected to key a season-long campaign.”
Harris appears as a “spokesplayer,” a player-adjacent figure who is of the game but not in it. He talks up players including Cam Newton, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, who are too busy actually playing the game and living their lives to spend time boasting.
This year promises to be a good one for EA, with video game players stuck at home with little else to occupy their time, and the social elements of multiplayer games a welcome balm to lonely young people. But that could change if the league needs to shut down. "Sure, more people could be interested in playing video games if there are not actual games,” Schultz writes. “But part of the allure of grabbing the new versions is to keep up with the player changes in the league—which will be less relevant if no one is playing.”
Early bird pricing for Ad Age’s 2020 Women to Watch Conference & Awards ends this Sunday. The Sept. 15 virtual event features panels with Dara Treseder, head of global marketing and Communications at Peloton, 3% Movement Founder and CEO Kat Gordon and Ann Mukherjee, chairman and CEO at Pernod Ricard.
I'm rubber, you're glue: President Trump lashed out at tiremaker Goodyear after a news story quoted an unnamed worker who said the company deemed Make American Great Again hats to be unacceptable attire, while Black Lives Matter clothing was allowed. Goodyear denied the veracity of the report. Never mind that MAGA is the slogan for the presidential campaign of a political party, while BLM is a nonpartisan grassroots movement.
Batch delete: Facebook has purged another 790 groups linked to the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon. Engagement on the groups and others like them has risen 200 to 300 percent in the last six months, according to the New York Times. Facebook also restricted more than 10,000 Instagram accounts and 1,950 more Facebook groups for lesser conspiracy-related offenses.
Bullseye: Retail has suffered as shoppers stay hunkered down at home, but sales at Target jumped 80.3 percent in the most recent quarter, defying all expectations. The surge was driven by strong sales of video games and home office items. Home goods were also up as workers stuck indoors decided to finally settle in. Even apparel sales bounced back after a 20 percent slump earlier in the year. Customers are still staying home and distancing, though. Delivery is up 350 percent, and curbside pickup rose 700 percent.
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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