Black Friday foot traffic halves, and Salesforce eyes Slack: Monday Wake-Up Call
Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.
Good morning and welcome to your post-Thanksgiving Wake-Up Call. Hopefully you’ve finally managed to digest all that food, and are ready to catch up with what’s been going on over the long weekend.
Today is Cyber Monday, but the name seems somewhat redundant in 2020 when online shopping is the norm for many people. On Black Friday, foot traffic in U.S. stores plunged by 52%, according to Bloomberg News, reporting preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions. Meanwhile, U.S. retailers pulled in a record $12.8 billion in online revenue on Friday, according to Salesforce, representing 23% growth over last year.
Although the pandemic is an obvious factor, as Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli writes, Black Friday has been on the wane for years and 2020 has simply been “a tipping point in the steady demise of the five-decade-old shopping holiday.” This year, big retailers like Target have encouraged customers to shop all through November for ongoing deals, and the likes of Lowe’s, Gap and Home Depot have publicized longer-lasting deals. But save your tears: if Black Friday ends as we know it, writes Pasquarelli, “experts say retailers should not mourn, because in recent years it has proven to be more of a logistical headache than a boon.”
Shares in Slack Technologies have jumped 24% this weekend on reports that the company is in talks to be acquired by Salesforce.
The proposed deal, first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal, would be Salesforce’s biggest ever. Slack has a market valuation of almost $22 billion following reports of the talks (and, according to Bloomberg News, its co-founder Stewart Butterfield is $400 million richer.) It would also increase Salesforce’s rivalry with Microsoft, as the company cements its dominance in cloud-based software. Microsoft has been heavily pushing its Teams platform, which competes with Slack, since the start of the pandemic.
According to reports, there could be an announcement imminently, with Salesforce reporting its third-quarter results tomorrow. However, nothing is finalized and the talks could still fall apart. Watch this space.
Some sad news emerged over the weekend. Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, died on Friday from injuries following a house fire. The 46-year-old Hsieh stepped down as CEO of Zappos in August after 21 years with the company, which he built into an online giant.
Pete Blackshaw, CEO of Cintrifuse, remembers Hsieh today in an obit for Ad Age, describing him as a visionary who “put service at the center of every smart company’s business model” by championing consumer returns, for example. But, perhaps unusually for the tech sector, Hsieh was also someone who “oozed modesty, humility, and accessibility.” Read more about him here.
Still thirsty after the weekend? Today, you can hear all about the burgeoning gin market, as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz is joined by Harvey Purchese, senior VP of marketing at liquor marketer William Grant & Sons, in a live episode of Ad Age Remotely at 11 a.m. EST.
The session will explore Hendrick's Gin's quirky ad approach, which has included stunts like the "Hendrick’s High Wheel,” a decidedly old-fashioned exercise bike, and Horatio, a “somewhat smart” speaker. Purchese will also discuss how the marketer is keeping its other brands front-and-center during the all-important holiday liquor retailing season, including Balvenie and Glenfiddich Malt whiskies, and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum. Watch here.
From 7-Eleven to Google: Google’s VP of global marketing, Martin Chow, is the guest on this week’s episode of the Ad Block podcast, where he tells Ad Age’s I-Hsien Sherwood and Alfred Maskeroni about growing up at his family’s 7-Eleven store. A fast-food connoisseur with opinions on the world’s best McDonald’s, Chow is also married to a chef.
Week ahead: Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, drumming up support for charitable causes. Plus, global tech event Web Summit is streaming online with guests including Serena Williams, and NBC is broadcasting the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting—this year without public attendance. More in our calendar roundup.
Santa meets The Office: Have we reached peak “The Office” nostalgia? Steve Carell is the latest star of the sitcom to appear in a commercial this year. As Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz reports, he plays a stress-eating, WFH Santa trying to communicate with his elves over a video call in Comcast Xfinity’s holiday ad. It’s a charming spot, from Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which aired after the TV-only Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. Watch it here.
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.
From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here.
Subscribers make the difference. Individual, group and corporate subscriptions are available—including access to our Ad Age Datacenter. Find options at AdAge.com/membership.