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Oil price war is over
Good morning, and welcome to another week of pandemic news. Ad Age will bring you the latest developments as the week goes on. The big business news this morning: The oil price war is over—for now. Last night the world’s top oil producers agreed to cut global petroleum output by nearly a tenth. OPEC+ will cut 9.7 million barrels a day—just below the initial proposal of 10 million.
The news was welcomed by President Trump, who tweeted that it would “save hundreds of thousands of energy jobs in the United States.”
As Bloomberg News reports, “after a week-long marathon of bilateral calls and video conferences of ministers from the OPEC+ alliance and the Group of 20 nations, an agreement finally emerged to tackle the impact of the pandemic on oil demand.”
In a sign of the times, OPEC+ ministers met in a video conference call on Easter Sunday, fewer than four hours before the oil market reopened, to close the deal.
John Oliver slams Amazon ad
John Oliver had Amazon in his sights last night during his “Last Week Tonight” broadcast—and in particular, the company’s “Thank You Amazon Heroes” ad. As reported by The Daily Beast, Oliver aired the ad in a segment on the treatment of essential workers during the coronavirus outbreak, after mentioning how “companies who employ ‘essential workers’ have openly waxed poetic about how much they value them—few in more glowing terms than Amazon.”
He went on to say: “It’s hard to say what I like least about that. Maybe it’s the schmaltzy piano music, maybe it’s Amazon patronizingly claiming they care about the well-being of their ‘heroes,’ or maybe it’s just the fact that, out of context, the Amazon smile logo is a quick sketch of an uncircumcised dick.”
Oliver’s point was that Amazon has been accused of not providing its workers with the correct protective equipment or hand sanitizer, and of not maintaining social distancing in its warehouses. He cited the case of Chris Smalls, an employee at Amazon’s Staten Island facility, who organized a walkout and was fired two hours later.
(For more on the perils of brands that try to be heroic during the outbreak, read Ad Age’s latest opinion piece by Thomas Kolster, founder and creative director at Copenhagen-based Goodvertising Agency. He writes: "This is a crisis, a war against coronavirus. Do we really need to listen to your brand’s emotional, violin-filled message of hope and optimism featuring beautiful product shots?”)
Playmates after print
Playboy magazine was one of the earliest print casualties of the pandemic, suspending publication on March 18. However, the storied 66 year-old title brand has a plan for life after print, reports Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing; it’s emerged with a new digital format, “Playboy Live.”
The format features a series of real-time videos starring Playboy’s troupe of Playmates and adult stars, delivered via Instagram Stories and IGTV. The first batch of live videos show the stars giving tutorials on activities to do at home where, of course, most people are cooped up under widespread lockdown measures.
These include physical therapy, exercise, cooking and makeup and skincare tips, as well as adult stars Abigail Mac (throwing a pool party) and Angela White (reviewing past Playboy editorials.) The live videos have “brought in hundreds of thousands of viewers,” says Playboy Executive Editor Liz Suman.
Auto insurers run refund ads
Auto insurer advertising is usually all about savings—but now companies have had to change tack and talk about refunds instead. With fewer customers driving their cars due to the pandemic, several auto insurers announced refunds last week. Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli reports on the ads they are running to promote this.
State Farm’s ad, for instance, features Melissa Vargas, a State Farm employee in agency operations, saying: “We know that our customers are driving less, which means fewer accidents.” An Allstate ad stars CEO Tom Wilson speaking from what appears to be his home.
Moving online: The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) is moving all live events surrounding its 2020 awards to a virtual platform, writes Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse in this week’s Agency Brief. Events including the AICP Post Awards, the AICP Next Awards and the AICP Show at MoMA will now take place in June. Anyone can join free of charge.
Instagramming Cherry Bombe: Cherry Bombe, an indie media brand focused on women and food, held its annual Jubilee conference on Instagram Live last week. Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl reports on how the event managed to pivot to digital and reach 180,300 Instagram accounts.
Disney furloughs: Walt Disney World in Florida plans to furlough about 43,000 workers after it closed last month because of the pandemic, reports the New York Times. The furloughs are set to begin on April 19.
Coronavirus creativity of the day: A new PSA from the Ohio Department of Health takes a new approach to “flattening the curve” and, as Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz writes, “scares the crap out of you” with ping pong balls. The spot “takes a page from the “This is your brain on drugs” playbook and depicts an endless grid of the balls set atop mouse traps tightly packed together—it then takes just one orb to trigger the rest of them to go flying.” It’s one of Creativity’s Top 5 ideas from last week, along with Julia Louis-Dreyfus botching her makeup job in another coronavirus PSA and Dove’s “Real Beauty” ad featuring medical workers.
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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