Brands weigh in on racism as protests continue across America: Monday Wake-Up Call
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Brands weigh in on racism protests
As protests and rioting raged across the U.S. this weekend following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, brands, marketing professionals and agencies have been weighing in on the tragedy.
Nike was one of the first to react, releasing a 60-second spot from Wieden+Kennedy on Instagram on Friday evening. As Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli reports, the spot, “For Once, Don’t Do It,” encourages people to stop being silent and making excuses, and instead to be part of the change. The spot was widely shared online, even by competitor Adidas, but not everyone praised it. As Ilyse Liffreing writes, some accused Nike of capitalizing on the events for marketing purposes or turned the conversation to its labor conditions. Industry veteran Cindy Gallop tweeted about the lack of racial diversity on Nike’s executive leadership team.
Other brands speaking out on social media included Netflix, which tweeted “To be silent is to be complicit,” as well as Disney, Under Armour, Amazon, YouTube, TikTok, the NFL, Adidas, Reebok and many others. 72andSunny and Vayner Media CEO Gary Vaynerchuck also posted their views. Meanwhile, EA Sports delayed the release of its new Madden NFL 20 game, saying "We'll find another time to talk football with you."
Protests force store closures
Brands might be supporting the protests, but they’re also being damaged by them. Many retailers, restaurants and businesses have been forced to close temporarily, some just as they were reopening after the lockdown.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart closed several hundred stores on Sunday evening. Approximately a dozen of its stores have been damaged. Adidas also said it was temporarily closing U.S. stores. Amazon said it had scaled back or adjusted delivery routes in some cities, and McDonald’s closed some restaurants. Some Nike stores were also damaged.
Target has also closed at least seven stores after several were damaged, including the first store to be looted in Minneapolis last week. And on Friday, writes Pasquarelli, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, which has been closed since mid-March due to lockdown, announced it would postpone its planned June 1 reopening due to the situation.
Marketers drag out payment terms
As the coronavirus pandemic enters another month, its effect on the relationship between marketers and agencies is worsening. Ad Age’s Jack Neff reports that “even well-heeled marketers are pushing for longer payment terms, and some agencies are pushing the transparency envelope to hold on to cash or make money outside normal fees.” Some are pushing ahead with plans to extend terms to 120 days and beyond, according to 4A’s CEO Marla Kaplowitz.
Packaged-goods players are among the most aggressive pursuers of slower terms. Reckitt Benckiser, Coty, Unilever and Anheuser-Busch InBev stand out, say several people familiar with the industry, despite the fact that for some, sales have actually increased during the pandemic. However, not all agencies are "innocent victims," as Neff points out: Some are not paying their own clients while others might have won business by volunteering for lengthier payment terms.
Greg Hahn resurfaces with No Fixed Address
The early days of the pandemic saw some high-profile agency casualties; one of them was BBDO New York Chief Creative Officer Greg Hahn. But Hahn has now resurfaced with a new role, as Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz reports, teaming up with independent Canadian agency No Fixed Address to open Mischief @ No Fixed Address, the company’s first outpost in the U.S., based in New York City.
Hahn will be a co-founder and creative lead, while former MullenLowe U.S. Senior VP-Group Account Director Kerry McKibbin will serve as president. Hahn told Diaz he spoke with all kinds of companies “from platforms and tech to in-house, to holding companies,” but what remained foremost in his mind was, “What is the model that would worry me?” His decision: one that was “nimble, creatively focused, very tied to making things.”
Social call: President Trump spoke on the phone with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, revealed Axios, after Trump continued to tweet about his intention to clamp down on social media companies. According to the story, the call was “described by both sides as productive.”
Drone delivery: With the NBA on hiatus due to the pandemic, Apple’s Beats by Dr. Dre turned to esports to promote its latest set of headphones, writes Ad Age’s George P. Slefo. The brand had a drone deliver the headphones to the home of professional gamers FaZe Clan in Los Angeles in a filmed stunt.
Drinking on the job: A survey by industry website Fishbowl found that 54 percent of users are fearful of layoffs at their companies; 55 percent are clocking more hours now than before the pandemic; and 42 percent are drinking on the job at home. Read more from Lindsay Rittenhouse in Ad Age’s Agency Brief.
Call to chat: Online retailer Zappos has revamped its customer service line so that those anxious about the pandemic can call to chat about anything, reports the New York Times. Associates will listen to everything, even it’s just about customers’ favorite shows or travel worries.
Corona creativity of the day: As some countries start to ease up on coronavirus restrictions, environmental activist organization Extinction Rebellion (which, you might recall, disrupted Cannes last year) questions in a new PSA whether we really want to go back to "normal" after the pandemic. Made by creatives in London and Australia, it juxtaposes footage of empty cityscapes, stores and restaurants with audio clips from a pre-lockdown "normal" life. The clips include news reports about bush fires, people buying fast food and mall announcements about Black Friday, as well as President Trump announcing U.S. withdrawal from the the Paris Climate Accord. 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.
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