Introducing the Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker: Thursday 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.
Do you hear that?
It’s the old advertising-doesn’t-work saw being bandied about again now that Mike Bloomberg has withdrawn from the race for the Democratic party nomination. But Bloomberg, who said in his announcement that he’s a “firm believer in using data to inform decisions,” remains steadfast in his resolve to defeat Donald Trump. How steadfast? He’s publicly said he’s open to devoting $1 billion to the cause, and, presumably Joe Biden. According to Steve Passwaiter, VP and general manager at Kantar/CMAG, as of yesterday, Bloomberg shoveled $570 million into TV, cable, radio, Facebook and Google properties in his failed quest. Biden spent $16.6 million, making him a potentially $586.6 million man overnight. So while it may be true that money can’t buy you the presidency, maybe it can buy your former opponent the role. In any event, don’t look for a respite from political ads anytime soon.
Bloomberg News reports that in the runup to Super Tuesday, Google rejected “dozens” of Donald Trump’s political ads, along with an ad for Bernie Sanders and two for a Joe Biden PAC. The company did not offer specifics, but Bloomberg News says Google has “a policy against making a ‘false claim’ in a political ad, and said in November that it was banning ‘doctored and manipulated media,’ sometimes known as deep fakes, as well as misleading messages about the census and the ‘electoral or democratic process.’”
“We have no evidence that closing SXSW or other activities would make this community safer.” That’s Dr. Mark Escott, medical director for Austin Public Health, at a press conference yesterday announcing that the show will go on. That said, the city is taking steps to keep attendees safe, writes Lindsay Rittenhouse, including “screening all employees to ensure they are not ill before working; providing additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizers; and placing signs around the festival to remind people to practice proper hygiene.” In addition, it’s urging people to “lessen social contact” by limiting the number of festival-goers allowed in venues.
But while SXSW seems to be forging ahead, the list of conference cancelations or postponements rolls on. Ad Age has put together a Coronavirus Industry Event Tracker, where you can keep tabs on the latest developments.
Twitter became the latest social-media player to copy Snapchat’s 24-hour disappearing-stories format with "Fleets" yesterday, writes George P. Slefo. The company is only testing Fleets in Brazil, but says it hopes to bring the feature to other countries soon. Posts won’t feature the like, retweet or embed options, something the company may backpedal on in the future, says Joshua Lowcock, chief digital officer of UM. “Limiting replies makes sense because after a Fleet disappears the reply would lose context,” says Lowcock. “But the loss of likes and retweets limits the ability to drive organic platform reach.”
Rapper Snoop Dogg is among several celebrities starring in a forthcoming Corona campaign called “La Vida Mas Fina,” which translates to “the finest life.” Ads, set for a release in May, will also feature actress Zoe Saldana and pro golfer Rickie Fowler. But brand owner Constellation is also getting its twang on. The brewer collaborated with country star Luke Bryan for a new beer called Two Lane American Lager that targets the American South. Both campaigns come from MullenLowe, which recently joined Constellation’s agency roster. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz has more.
Debra Lee, the former chairman and CEO of BET, almost stuck to a career at a corporate law firm. Luckily, as she tells Brian Braiker in the latest episode of the Ad Age Ad Lib podcast, she decided to take a gamble on an exciting new startup in 1986. “They didn’t think cable would last,” she says. “It was risky but I felt so good about it … And then look at this! Cable lasted.” In a wide-ranging conversation, Lee talks about the pivot she enabled BET to make, the early days of cable, her first experience with racism, how she’s helping elevate African-American women leaders and why it’s lonely at the top.
Tick tock: The release of the new James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” has been postponed from April to November, according to Deadline, which, the publication says, was “purely an economic decision we understand, and not one based on growing fears over the coronavirus.” Still, the film’s title has unfortunate timing—although, we trust if anyone can beat this virus, it’s James Bond.
Lower pump prices: While the coronavirus wreaks havoc around the world, it’s actually lowering gas prices due to lower demand. Fuel price platform Gas Buddy found that “over the past three weeks, when China largely shut down and fewer people traveled, gas prices in the USA have fallen 6 cents per gallon,” reports USA Today, to below $2 in many stations.
Stocking up: Hand soap, check. Toilet paper, check. Oat milk … what? Bloomberg News, quoting Nielsen, is reporting that “dairy alternative” sales surged more than 300 percent in the week ending Feb. 22. Just below oat milk on the growth curve were household maintenance masks, medicinal masks and hand sanitizer.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call, thanks for reading. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
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