MullenLowe's chief creative officer is out, 1 in 5 Americans have lost work: Friday Wake-Up Call
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Mark Wenneker, MullenLowe’s U.S. chief creative officer, is leaving the company, the latest high-profile agency executive to exit in recent weeks. The news comes just a month after the agency laid off 10 percent of its staff. “Following a run of memorable campaigns for JetBlue, Zappos, American Greetings and more, last year MullenLowe continued to turn out work like Burger King’s ‘Real Meals,’” writes Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz. “One of Wenneker’s passion projects was ‘Fearful Girl,’ a campaign for Change the Ref that placed a bulletproof vest on McCann’s ‘Fearless Girl’ statue for State Street Global Advisors to highlight the organization’s gun safety mission.”
Wenneker joined the IPG-owned agency in 2008, after a celebrated run at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Last month, IPG Chairman and CEO Michael Roth warned of staff cuts ahead amid a rocky second quarter.
“I love Mullen,” Wenneker told Diaz. “They're like family, and I'm proud of what we built in the last 12 years.”
Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment last week, bringing the running total since the beginning of the pandemic to more than 33 million. That means 1 in 5 Americans has filed for unemployment in recent weeks, not counting those who couldn’t get through the bureaucratic backlog.
The Labor Department will announce the unemployment rate for April later today, but the preliminary figure is 15.5 percent, a level not seen since the Great Depression. But unemployment might become the lesser of two evils for many workers, as states look to reopening their economies. Companies are already calling back laid off and furloughed workers, many of whom will have to report to work or lose their unemployment benefits, no matter the risk to their health.
A new Google tool offers more information about searches for retail products, a release prompted by the needs of manufacturers and retailers during the pandemic. “It's the first time Google is providing insights on product categories based on what people are searching for,” writes Ad Age’s George Slefo.
Obviously, the tool, dubbed “Rising Retail Categories,” is most useful for brands hoping to divine their customers’ desires, but it also offers a fascinating dive into Americans’ shopping psyche. “In the last week, for example, ‘fresh cut flowers’ saw a 70 percent upswing in the U.S., mostly driven by California residents and almost entirely associated with ‘Mother’s Day,’ Slefo writes. “Swimming pools, golf bag accessories and trampolines were among the most searched products in the U.S. during the month of April.” Looks like backyards are going to be more fun this summer, if still a little lonely.
Code & Theory landed on Ad Age’s Agency A-List for the first time this year, so co-founder and CEO Dan Gardner has a newfound appreciation for the accolade. Since the pandemic lockdown began, he’s been sheltering in place with his wife and their five kids, ages 11 to 4. On the latest episode of the "Ad Block" podcast, Gardner talks about being thrust into the role of home school teacher, personal chef and accidental toilet paper hoarder.
“It’s crazy, but it feels just as hard as it always has been,” he says. “When I had one kid, I was like, ‘Wow, this is so hard!’ Because obviously one kid is way harder than no kid, moreso than 5 kids to 3 kids.”
At least he isn’t bored. “There’s a lot of action,” Gardner adds. “The isolation feels less because there are a lot of people in the household doing different things.”
Under pressure: “It’s not pretty.” That was how ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish characterized the TV ad sales revenue outlook for the second quarter during a first quarter earnings call on Thursday. Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi rounds up what Bakish and other media execs had to say during earnings calls this week as the industry grapples with spending declines during the coronavirus, driven by the lack of live sports. Fox News head of ad sales Jeff Collins appears on today's live edition of Ad Age Remotely to discuss the state of the news marketplace amid the pandemic. Tune in here at at 3 p.m. EDT
Just post on my wall: If your employer is in a rush to get back to the office, tell them Mark Zuckerberg is staying home for the foreseeable future. Facebook says it will start reopening offices on July 6, but employees will be allowed to work from home for the rest of the year if they want to. Even those who have to come into the office may find the quarters spare. Groups of 50 or more employees will be prohibited until at least July of 2021.
Back in business: Zoom reached a deal with the New York attorney general to end the state’s inquiry into the company’s privacy practices. After being called out for lax security measures on its videoconferencing platform, Zoom updated its software. The New York City Department of Education reauthorized use of Zoom yesterday. The company won’t have to admit any wrongdoing, but an inquiry by the Connecticut attorney general is still ongoing.
Sorry, Bessie: Dairy cows are being slated for slaughter amid a beef shortage that’s affected big burger chains. Suppliers are now willing to pay a premium to turn milk cows into meat. “Wendy’s is running a bit short on the fresh beef used in all of its burgers due to the major disruptions in the U.S. meat supply chain stemming from slaughterhouse slowdowns and shutdowns as many of the workers in those facilities caught the coronavirus,” writes Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl. As many 20 percent of the chain’s locations have struggled with their beef supplies, most often this week.
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