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More good vaccine news, and P&G ‘upset’ by WPP's plans for Grey: Monday Wake-Up Call
Good morning, and welcome to Thanksgiving week, which is likely to look very different this year thanks to the pandemic. Nevertheless, there is another glimmer of hope to wake up to this Monday morning—positive news about another potential vaccine.
AstraZeneca and Oxford University announced early Monday morning that early data on its COVID-19 vaccine show it stops an average of 70% of patients from becoming ill. As Bloomberg News reports, although that’s below the numbers reported by Pfizer and Moderna, effectiveness rose to 90% for one of two dosing regimes, using half a dose followed by a full one later. Also, the shot has some advantages when it comes to distribution. While the other two vaccines have to be stored frozen, this one can be kept at refrigerator temperature, which would make it easier to transport and store globally. The news has boosted stock markets already with London opening higher and European stock markets at their highest since late February.
Vaccinations against COVID-19 in the U.S. will “hopefully” start in less than three weeks, according to the head of the federal government’s program this weekend. So, even as Americans are advised not to travel for the holidays, at least we can dream that things may return to some kind of normality in 2021.
It’s been a couple of weeks since WPP announced the merger of Grey and AKQA, with much written about the retirement of the storied Grey name. However, reports of its demise may have been premature; on Friday, Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse broke the story that key Grey client P&G is not happy.
According to people close to the business, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has called WPP CEO Mark Read, demanding to know why he wasn't informed that the Grey brand would be retired. While Pritchard wouldn't comment on that, he did confirm through a spokesperson that he “was upset” by news reports saying the Grey name would be going away. He was told that this is not the case and that Grey “will remain intact and the Grey name is not going away,” the spokesperson said.
So, what’s going on? As Rittenhouse writes, it’s a “gray area.” One executive with knowledge of the situation insists there was a plan to ditch Grey entirely, but that was “changed to separate brands because of P&G displeasure.” Whatever the case, P&G is one billion-dollar client WPP can't afford to anger.
As we all prepare for a food fest this week, one major food marketer is preparing for a shakeup. Kraft Heinz is “spending more on marketing, placing bigger bets on its big brands, and shaking up its agency roster,” reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl, as it nears the end of a year in which its products have never been more popular.
The company’s marketing investments in the second half of 2020 are up 70% versus the first half of the year and up 40% from the second half of 2019, according to Chief Growth Officer Sanjiv Gajiwala. “Maybe in the past we were about ‘this is our product,’” says Gajiwala. Now, he says, Kraft Heinz aspires to be more about “consumer obsession.”
The agency shakeup includes tapping Johannes Leonardo to lead creative for Oscar Mayer, Kraft Singles and Kraft macaroni and cheese, starting in January. Oscar Mayer in particular is getting renewed attention, with plans for a masterbrand campaign next year.
A “gargantuan” sum of $8.5 billion was spent on political advertising this year, with $1.8 billion on the presidential election alone. That’s according to analysis by Kantar/CMAG, reported in the new Digital Edition of Ad Age, out today. Kantar/CMAG’s Steve Passwaiter digs into some of the figures, which reveal that Biden outspent Trump ($600 million versus $500 million), but he warns that “just because we can measure political ad spend with a high degree of accuracy doesn’t mean we can attribute the Biden win to advertising alone.”
As well as the political tally, today’s Digital Edition also looks into rise of indie shops in the pandemic and the way holiday ads have handled COVID-19. Subscribers can download it here.
The week ahead: It’s a short week, with Thanksgiving and Black Friday ahead, but the likes of Hormel and Urban Outfitters are reporting results, the Conference Board releases its U.S. Consumer Confidence Index, and the college basketball season begins again. Check our calendar roundup here for what’s happening this week.
PR and greenwashing: Following Porter Novelli’s decision last week to no longer work with the American Public Gas Association, The New Yorker examines PR and ad agencies’ role in “greenwashing” this week, taking aim at campaigns including work for ExxonMobil by BBDO and Universal McCann. The campaigns don’t involve “classic climate denial,” argues the article, but instead “look for ways to leverage people’s environmental concern in service of precisely the companies that are causing the trouble.”
Broken strings: Guitar Center, the country’s largest retailer of musical instruments, filed for bankruptcy protection late Saturday night, reports the New York Times. The chain has been hit by the pandemic, but even before that it was struggling to compete with online rivals.
Golden touch: J Balvin’s latest song is partly inspired by the McDonald’s Golden Arches. A video for “Dorado" includes the phrase “Arcos Dorados,” or golden arches, and it shows the reggaetron singer dressing up as McDonald’s customers and employees. What's more, the full version is available only in the McDonald’s app after appearing as a commercial during the Latin Grammys. Find out more over at Creativity, and don't forget to check out Friday's livestreamed review of the week's Top 5 creative ideas.
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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