The NBA plans a comeback, and many students can no longer afford college: Friday Wake-Up Call
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March Madness was sacrificed upon the altar of social distancing, but the NBA is finalizing plans for resuming its 2020 basketball season. The board of governors voted to begin games on Jul. 31 at Disney World, featuring 22 of the 30 teams in the league.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts,” Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
Safety precautions and testing schedules are still being finalized. The NBA was the first major American sports league to suspend games at the beginning of the pandemic, on Mar. 11 after players tested positive for the coronavirus.
The best thing that can be said about the unemployment numbers out this week is that the pace of losses is slowing, at least for now. According to the Department of Labor, 1.8 million people filed for benefits last week, the first time that figure has dipped below 2 million since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.
Still, 1.8 million lost jobs in a single week is a historic number, dwarfing anything seen since the Great Depression and bringing total unemployment filings since lockdowns began to 42.6 million. But comparisons to the 1930s will keep coming. The DOJ is releasing the May unemployment rate later today, which some economists say may hit 20 percent, a huge rise from the 14.7 percent clocked in April and a stunning leap above the historically low 3.5 percent unemployment the country enjoyed in February.
Much attention has been paid to colleges and universities worried about losing students who may not have an on-campus experience to look forward to in the fall. But more than half of undergrads say they won’t be able to pay tuition even if campuses are open, due to coronavirus-related job losses either they or their families are dealing with or a loss of scholarships.
The survey from OneClass of more than 10,000 students also shows that about 7 percent of them have unenrolled, either to work full-time or find a different school.
The pandemic is affecting the choices of current high school students, too, pushing them toward community colleges over the traditional on-campus college experience, or toward more affordable public schools rather than private colleges. Gap years are also on the rise, as some students decide to just try to wait out the pandemic before diving into the expense of college.
Conservative group The Lincoln Project is out with another anti-Trump ad, this time blatantly calling the president a “coward” for threatening to use the U.S. military to attack peaceful protesters marching against police brutality. At the start of the ad, as an Associated Press headline—“Trump took shelter in White House bunker as protests raged”—flashes on the screen, an announcer says “When Donald Trump came out of hiding this week, he didn’t do it to bring us together or heal the nation. He wasn’t there to offer words of calm and comfort. Instead, he became what we always feared.” Watch the ad here.
The ad also calls out Trump for using the Bible as a prop during a photo op in front of a church—after clearing the way with tear gas. Previously, The New York Times posted an op-ed from the founders of The Lincoln Project, conservatives and former Republican staffers unhappy with the direction Trump has taken the party, including George Conway, the husband of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, and former George W. Bush campaign strategist Steve Schmidt.
Event spaces, with their high-touch surfaces and crowded rooms, were among the businesses hardest hit by social distancing measures. But now that states are beginning to reopen, the task is convincing consumers that it’s safe to return. Main Event, an arcade, gaming and bowling venue “began offering virtual birthday sing-a-longs on Instagram Live, often led by influencers,” the company’s chief brand officer tells Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl on the latest episode of the Marketer’s Brief podcast.
“It promoted delivery of its food, such as pizza. And it began talking to moms about what measures they would want to see in place before they would feel comfortable returning to massive event spaces,” Wohl writes. Now guests, in a scene straight out of Gatsby, are handed bowling balls by gloved and masked valets. Laser tag arenas are socially distanced, which makes sense since laser tag is not a contact sport, no matter what your belligerent cousin says.
Half of Main Event’s marketing efforts focus on safety procedures now, and that seems to be working. By bext week, it expects to have 25 of its 44 locations open.
Protests bear fruit: Apple CEO Tim Cook has pledged that the company will do more to support the black community in the wake of protests against the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police. In addition to offering resources to underfunded schools and fighting climate change—which disproportionately affects people of color—Cook said the company will push for progress on diversity and inclusion and will donate to organizations like the Equal Justice Initiative.
Caught in the act: YouTube celebrity Jake Paul has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and unlawful assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona, after Instagram videos showed him inside a mall as other people smash store windows. Paul insists he was documenting what was happening after participating in protests against police violence. The influencer has a history of embroiling himself in newsworthy events that aren't about him in order to draw views to his YouTube channel.
Blocks blocked: Initial reports that Lego had paused marketing on police-related sets are incorrect, writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing. Instead, the brand paused all marketing efforts earlier this week. “That news has developed after false reports began circulating online that Lego had asked affiliates to remove police-related sets from online stores, spreading misinformation that Lego was only pausing marketing on police-related sets—and the company is still working to put the record straight.”
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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