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Ford Motor Co. is taking the high road amid the coronavirus pandemic, pulling all national ads promoting vehicles and replacing them with a new campaign, reports E.J. Schultz, including giving Ford Credit customers some payment relief. Matt VanDyke, director of U.S. marketing for Ford Motor Co., said that “Thursday morning of last week, it became clear we were at a tipping point where we expect typical messaging in the marketplace isn’t going to work the same way. It’s important to be reassuring right now and not trying to say to people 'Rush into your car dealership for a sales event.’ ”
The ads play into Ford’s more than 100-year history and reference how the company built tanks and planes during wartime, and more recently offered payment relief to consumers affected by natural disasters like hurricanes, fires and tornados. The push includes two new spots, “Built to Lend a Hand” and “Built for Right Now,” from Wieden+Kennedy New York, and play off the automaker’s regular tagline, “Built Ford Proud.”
Today is St. Patrick’s Day and, while many cities and municipalities have banned gatherings, Guinness is offering a unifying message of hope. As reported by E.J. Schultz, the ad comes from Quaker City Mercantile in Philadelphia. The spot never specifically mentions coronavirus, but says, “Don’t worry, we’ll march again,” in an Irish-accented voiceover against parade and party scenes. The ad goes on to say “on St. Patrick’s Day we are all Irish, but let’s not forget that every day, we are all human. What matters is being with people you care about. Whether you are planning to safely celebrate at the pub, or hosting at home, if you can call the people around you friends or family, you’ve already won. When you raise a pint of Guinness, also remember to raise each other up.”
“More than ever, we need to stay close to our clients and their business, even if we can’t be with them in person. As we all navigate this unprecedented situation together and actually discover new ways of working ... our role is to help them monitor events, to make the right strategy decisions, maximize their investment for short-term goals and prepare for a pivot once the crisis is over.” That’s Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun in a video message sent to employees (watch it here). Sadoun’s message—which included instructions to work from home and utilize video conferencing—comes as leaders of U.S. holding companies take similar steps during the coronavirus crisis. Omnicom Group has advised employees to work remotely, as has WPP Group where possible. The 4’As has also issued guidance for members. Keep up to date with how agencies are managing during the coronavirus with Ad Age's continuously updated story. Also bookmark our blog on how marketers are coping and our Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker.
Another bleak Black Monday
The Dow plunged 2,997 points, its biggest one-day drop in history, a crashing blow on another Black Monday. The Dow’s 12.9 percent crash was the second-sharpest one-day percentage drop, behind a 22.6 percent dive on Oct. 19, 1987, and just ahead of a 12.8 percent drop on Oct. 28, 1929. The S&P plummeted 12 percent. Agency stocks—WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Interpublic—tumbled to multiyear lows. MDC Partners skidded 26 percent. Facebook fell 14.3 percent; Google parent Alphabet was down 11.1 percent. The retail sector was pummeled, with mall operator Simon Property Group crashing 26.7 percent and Gap falling 22.9 percent. Amazon dropped 5.4 percent to a 52-week low. Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest advertiser, declined 4.9 percent. Bleach marketer Clorox continued to thrive, rising 4.1 percent.
Stay focused: If you are working from home, here’s a reminder to actually work. Vice reports that Zoom—whose stock is up 20 percent since the outbreak began—has a feature called “attention tracking” that can allow your employer to see if you are clicked away from the active window for more than half a minute.
Malls resist closure: Shopping mall property owners including Simon, Brookfield, Taubman and Westfield all appear to have U.S. locations in operation and open to the public, even in areas where the coronavirus has been prevalent, reports Adrianne Pasquarelli. This comes despite a late February report from retail research firm Coresight Research which found that 27.5 percent of shoppers were already avoiding public areas such as shopping centers; 58 percent said that they would avoid malls if the virus were to worsen.
Golden Arches closes dining areas: McDonald’s has become the latest—and by far the largest—restaurant operator to announce it is shutting down its U.S. dining areas due to coronavirus, while leaving drive-thrus, take-out and delivery open for business, Jessica Wohl reports. So you can still get your Shamrock Shake today. Maybe even make it a double.