Cannes pulls the plug on rescheduled festival and U.S. sees nearly 10 million unemployment filings in two weeks: Friday Wake-Up Call
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No Cannes do
The 2020 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is officially canceled. The announcement, made early this morning, revised previous plans to postpone the awards to October, when organizers had hoped the coronavirus pandemic would be less of a threat.
“It has become clear to us our customers’ priorities have shifted to the need to protect people, to serve consumers with essential items and to focus on preserving companies, society and economies,” organizers said in a statement. “Our difficult decision follows in-depth consultations with our partners and customers and reflects the unprecedented societal, health and economic challenges currently facing the world, as well as our desire to remove any uncertainty about the running of the awards and event for our partners and customers.”
Even prior to this decision, holding companies and agencies were already reevaluating whether they would attend the festival in October. "One person close to the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity said WPP and Omnicom Group have pulled out of the festival,” Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse wrote yesterday. Sources also said Wieden+Kennedy had decided not to attend, though the agency declined to comment.
The 2021 festival will run as scheduled, Jun. 21-25 of next year.
As expected, applications for unemployment benefits last week shattered previous numbers, with more than 6.6 million people filing claims—10 times higher than any single week of the Great Recession more than a decade ago, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That brings the number of filings in the last two weeks to just shy of 10 million, as businesses shutter or cut back on staffing due to COVID-19. This week alone, U.S. retailers furloughed 1 million workers.
But, just as economists warned last week, the worst is yet to come. The CBO predicted yesterday that U.S. unemployment will hit 10 percent in the second quarter—jumping from just 3.5 percent before the coronavirus pandemic—and that it will still be 9 percent at the end of 2021.
Publishers have seen a spike in traffic as readers stuck at home hunt for news about the pandemic. But those eyeballs have been tough to monetize, because Google had been blocking ads that mention coronavirus from its platforms. Now the search giant is relaxing those restrictions, after calls from politicians who want to address the biggest issue of the campaign season in their spots.
For now, the change applies to healthcare providers, NGOs and governmental organizations, with politicians to follow afterward, according to Axios. As for traditional advertisers, “in the coming days, Google also plans to address how it will phase in other advertisers, like consumer brands, to allow those groups to also buy ads that reference the coronavirus and related terms.”
The Democratic National Convention has been postponed a month, and will now begin Aug. 17, just a week before the Republican National Convention, where President Donald Trump is all but guaranteed to accept the nomination. The DNC informed the campaigns of the two Democrats still in the race, former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, who both agreed the date change was necessary, CNN reports.
Even in August, though, there could be issues for the conventions. Current rules require delegates to appear in person to cast their vote for the nominee, but mass gatherings of people may still be discouraged, or even dangerous, depending on the spread of COVID-19.
San Francisco agency TBD, once a promising small agency, is closing its doors. Client losses due to the pandemic were the final straw, co-founder Jordan Warren told Ad Age. “The closure underscores the pressure small agencies are under during the best of times, and how the pandemic can exacerbate existing pressures or become a tipping point,” write Ad Age’s Lindsey Rittenhouse and Ann-Christine Diaz. Co-founder and chief creative officer Rafael Rizuto has accepted the CCO position at BBH NY, which has been vacant since Gerard Caputo joined Wieden+Kennedy NY in January.
Art imitates life: In a coronavirus society, TV shows and movies that feature crowds and casual public contact feel out of place. To reflect our new reality, “Bay Area-based creatives Jeff Roy and Drake Paul have applied the rules of social distancing to famous paintings,” writes Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz. Roy Photoshops works by Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, René Magritte, Georges Seurat and other artists, “stripping them of human life (or relegating figures within the originals to the background).”
In memoriam: For other artists, coronavirus isn’t an addendum to their work but a sad end to it. Fountains of Wayne singer Adam Schlesinger (best known for the 2003 pop hit “Stacy’s Mom”) died this week at 52 of complications from coronavirus. Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis (85) and country singer Joe Diffie (61) also passed away due to complications from the disease.
Patriots' PPE play: Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots NFL team, used the organization’s private jet to fly 1 million N95 masks from China to the Boston area. Massachusetts had purchased the masks as states scramble to get the supplies they need to fight the pandemic, rather than relying on the federal government's less-than-coordinated response.
SXSW Prime: This year’s SXSW festival was canceled, but filmmakers who had planned to screen their movies there will still get an audience. Amazon has agreed to run the films on its Prime service, in front of the paywall, so even non-subscribers can watch them. Screenings are slated to begin late this month.
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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