Jack Dorsey and Steak-umm emerge as unlikely pandemic heroes: Wednesday Wake-Up Call
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While some billionaires are avoiding the coronavirus on yachts (we see you, David Geffen), others are coming to the rescue with acts of philanthropy during the pandemic. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is the latest and biggest by far, having pledged to devote $1 billion of his stake in Square, the payments firm he co-founded, to help fund the coronavirus relief effort. The pledge represents about 28 percent of his wealth, he said, as he outlined his plan in a series of tweets.
Dorsey said that after the pandemic had been “disarmed,” his focus would switch to girls’ health and education, and universal basic income. He added: “I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now.”
Other business billionaires pledging money so far include Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who is donating $100 million to Feeding America, Michael and Susan Dell, who have committed another $100 million to global relief efforts, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has pledged a similar amount to help develop a vaccine..
An unexpected contender for the voice of reason in the time of pandemic emerged yesterday on Twitter: Steak-umm, purveyor of frozen meats. As Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, the brand began urging people in a series of tweets to follow accredited news sources that rely on data, not anecdotes. One such tweet by, we'll remind you, Steak-umm, reads: “It can be difficult to know what to believe in a time when institutional trust is diminished and the gatekeepers of information have been dismantled, but it’s more crucial now than ever before to follow a range of credentialed sources for both breaking news and data collection.”
Nathan Allebach, who handles social for Steak-umm, is responsible for the tweets and shared on Twitter that he “often posts about whatever is on his mind at the time.” His rants have caught the public imagination, with the thread generating more than 11,000 retweets, 42,000 likes, hundreds of comments, and attracting the attention of academics and writers, many of whom, as Liffreing points out, “acknowledge the irony of thoughtful pandemic advice from a frozen meat brand.” The brand acknowledged it too: with a tweet admitting: "This is peak irony, but hey we live in a society so please make informed decisions to the best of your ability and don't let anecdotes dictate your world view. Steak-umm bless."
With agencies already suffering from the advertising slowdown caused by the coronavirus, there is yet another new problem to contend with: Clients are starting to delay payments. Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reports that “agencies are finding many of their clients in categories hit the hardest by the pandemic are delaying payments and in rare cases refusing to pay at all.”
The problem is affecting agencies large and small, with clients across a number of sectors looking to hold off on spending. (One that has been public about it so far is fitness company Equinox.) "It's not that we don't have empathy," one senior level agency executive who is faced with this situation says. "But we are a business, too."
The situation has potentially devastating consequences, as Rittenhouse points out: "Delayed payments could result in a domino effect across the industry, hurting not only creative agencies and the production companies, freelancers and other partners hired for ad shoots and campaigns but also media agencies and the ad-tech community."
Zoom is being accused by a shareholder of hiding flaws in its app in the latest security lawsuit against the video conferencing company. Bloomberg News reports that in a complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco, investor Michael Drieu, who filed the suit as a class action, claims a series of public revelations about the app’s deficiencies starting last year have dented Zoom’s stock price. The lawsuit came after another blow for Zoom yesterday: Taiwan barred all official use of the app, becoming one of the first governments to do so.
Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg will join Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi in the latest live edition of Ad Age Remotely at noon ET today. Koenigsberg will be discussing how his gigantic independent media agency is managing through the crisis and the state of TV dealmaking. Watch the livestream here and follow the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Periscope and Twitch.
Pinteresting pandemic: Pinterest shares soared by 13 percent after hours on Tuesday, after the company beat analyst expectations in guidance for its first quarter despite coronavirus, CNBC reports. It expects Q1 revenue in the range of $269 million to $272 million, and said that in terms of advertising, its exposure to the most affected categories, like travel, automotive and restaurants, has not been "significant."
Podcast of the Day: Clayton Reid, CEO of travel marketing firm MMGY Global, discusses the state of the travel industry in the latest podcast edition of Marketer’s Brief. Despite the industry having come to a standstill, Reid says travel marketers should be taking this time to engage their best customers and boost brand awareness, as customers plan beyond the pandemic. Listen up here.
Coronavirus campaign of the day: Is this the lockdown equivalent of Slow TV? Audi is offering a form of relief to Australians stuck inside during quarantine. A new campaign from We Are Social Australia takes people on a virtual four hour drive through the scenic Central Tablelands in New South Wales, writes Ad Age’s I-Hsien Sherwood. Viewers can while away a whole afternoon on the roadtrip, and what’s more, it was all crafted observing social distancing, with a crew of four in separate cars shooting the footage.
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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