SoftBank posts massive loss and remembering Fred Willard’s commercials: Monday Wake-Up Call
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SoftBank posts $17.7 billion loss
Technology conglomerate SoftBank is the latest company to post a major financial hit, reporting a loss of 1.9 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) over the last fiscal year, the biggest in its history. Bloomberg News reports that the Japanese company has been hit hard by the performance of its $100 billion Vision Fund, whose investments include Uber and WeWork.
Uber’s disappointing IPO last year and troubles at WeWork have impacted earnings, and now coronavirus is further affecting the fund, as its portfolio of startups is heavily weighted toward the sharing economy. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that SoftBank is in talks to sell “a significant portion” of its T-Mobile U.S. stake to controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom.
The news comes on the same day Japan reported that it has fallen into recession for the first time since 2015. The New York Times reports that its economy shrank by an annualized rate of 3.4 percent in the first three months of the year.
Remembering Fred Willard
Actor Fred Willard, who died on Friday at the age of 86, is perhaps best known for the films "Best in Show" and "This is Spinal Tap," but he also brought his zany comedic persona to commercials, and Ad Age’s Judann Pollack has taken a look back at his legacy.
Willard’s advertising highlights include a Nut & Honey spot from 1992, in which he plays a newscaster a bit taken aback by his co-anchor's lackadaisical attitude. There was also a spot for the Abraham & Strauss department store, in which a hapless Willard thinks he's made a wise choice of a gift for his father-in-law, and a Subaru ad that plays off the theme of subliminal advertising. And animal lover Willard lent his talent to PETA for several commercials as well as emceeing some of its fundraisers. Take a look here.
Facebook's Giphy deal
Facebook announced that it agreed to buy Giphy on Friday in a deal which could cost $400 million. The company is one of the main sources of reaction Gifs shared on millions of mobile devices. According to Vishal Shah, VP of product at Facebook, in a blog post about the proposed deal, "We plan to further integrate their GIF library into Instagram and our other apps so that people can find just the right way to express themselves."
But Ad Age’s Garett Sloane reports that the deal could spell trouble for rivals including Snapchat and Twitter, with Giphy giving Facebook a new source of data on competitors. Zach Edwards, founder of Victory Medium, told Sloane that Facebook will be "in control of the only major animated-Gif sharing service, and can use this monopoly power against their competitors, most of whom are Giphy clients." As Sloane, puts it, if the reaction were from Facebook rivals like Snapchat and Twitter were a Gif “it could be any Gif of Ryan Reynolds acting exasperated, rolling his eyes and throwing his head back in disbelief: 'Not again.'"
Coke returns to TV with Nascar
Coke returned to TV advertising this weekend after a seven-week absence. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports that the brand ran an ad on Sunday during Fox’s coverage of Nascar, which was also back after a two-month coronavirus-induced break. The commercial, called “For Everyone,” shows various Coke packaging arranged in a way that represents people affected by the pandemic, and is in fact an English-language remake of a Spanish-language spot from Argentina's Mercado McCann that has run in Latin America and Spain.
The brand had been wary of advertising during the pandemic, but was lured back by the return of live sports to the U.S. Jaideep Kibe, VP for the Coca-Cola trademark in North America, told Ad Age: “For the U.S., we believe this is the right way to re-enter the market with meaningful, relevant content.”
End of the line? JC Penney finally filed for bankruptcy on Friday, after a years-long decline for the department store chain was compounded by the impact of coronavirus. Its bankruptcy filing in Houston on Friday included $900 million of financing to fund the company through its restructuring, including $450 million of fresh capital.
Battery-powered: WPP’s MediaCom has been appointed as Duracell’s new global media agency of record across 32 markets including the U.S., U.K. and China, writes Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. Read more in Agency Brief.
Creative Under Quarantine: Dara Treseder, CMO of Silicon Valley-based digital manufacturing company Carbon, is Ad Age’s latest Creative Under Quarantine diarist. While managing her company’s pivot from 3D-printed shoes, athletic gear and dental wear to produce face shields and nasopharyngeal swabs, Treseder has also been also fitting in dancing to Baby Shark with her kids, attending online church and celebrating Mother's Day.
Fort Ikea: In yet another example of coronavirus-related creativity from Ikea, the retailer issued an instruction manual to frazzled parents in Russia on how to build forts and playhouses to keep their kids entertained during quarantine. All the ideas can be created using household items like blankets, tables, fairy lights and books (and they don’t have to be from Ikea, either.) Parents are encouraged to share their creations on social media. The campaign by Instinct Moscow is one of Creativity’s Top 5 from last week; see the rest here.
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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