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Worldwide stock markets slump as Trump tests positive and U.K. Christmas ads are a litmus test for COVID cheer: Friday Wake-Up Call
Stock markets around the world have fallen this morning after the news that President Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19 just a month ahead of the U.S. election. European markets opened more than 1% lower in early trading and futures markets suggested a similar pattern for Wall Street with Nasdaq futures falling 1.2%. Trump posted news of his positive test result on Twitter at 1AM ET. “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” he wrote. The news came hours after it was announced that presidential aide Hope Hicks had tested positive. The announcement will force brands into tough decisions today and through the weekend about whether or not to move forward with planned campaigns and social media activations in light of this development, which will dominate the news cycle.
In the U.S., retailers are gearing up for Halloween, but in the U.K., only Christmas matters. Viewers wait for the new crop of holiday ads the same way Americans anticipate Super Bowl spots. But just like for the Big Game, it’s tough to know what tone to strike these days.
A production company exec tells Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine that “scripts for Christmas ads this year have been subject to ‘multiple rewrites’ and some high-profile directors have shied away from them. ‘Their biggest fear is about mitigating the risk of causing offense.’”
But it also looks like budgets for holiday ads (at least in the U.K.) haven’t been cut, like so much else during the pandemic. And there are plenty of available celebrities stuck at home who are willing to make a cameo in an ad for the right price.
Ratings were down 13% from four years ago for the first presidential debate, but it looks like there might not be a second one to pick up the slack. The Commission on Presidential Debates announced it would change the rules for future events, after near-constant interruptions from President Trump, but he’s shot down that idea—at least for now. And that was before he announced he had contracted COVID, which of course really puts the second debate in doubt.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the debate should be “one and done,” given how little actual information was relayed to audiences. Typically, debates are seen as a good opportunity for challengers, since sitting presidents get to make news all the time.
If the first debate is indeed the last one this cycle, expect political ads to play an even more outsized role going forward than they already do. Both candidates will need to try even harder to get their messages across without primetime events.
Many leaders pledge changes on Day 1, but Ford’s new CEO Jim Farley delivered. “Joy Falotico, chief marketing officer since 2018, will step down from the role to focus on her other job leading the company’s Lincoln brand,” writes Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz. “Ford said it would name a new CMO ‘shortly.’ A spokesman confirmed to Ad Age that the automaker would be hiring someone from outside the company but declined to give more details.”
While Farley was chief operating officer before becoming CEO, he came up through marketing and comms, and he’s shaken up agency relationships before, like in 2018 when he was said to have an influential role when Ford brought on BBDO and Wieden+Kennedy at the expense of WPP’s dedicated Ford agency GTB.
Bread, by any other name, would taste too sweet. So says the Irish Supreme Court about Subway’s in-house baked bread…er, “bread.” At 10% sugar by weight, it’s too sweet to legally qualify, according to Irish law, which limits real bread to no more than 2%.
A franchisee originally brought a suit claiming it shouldn’t have to pay tax on its 6-inch and footlong sandwiches because bread is a “staple food.” So much for that plan.
But maybe Subway bread is just joining an elite club of former foodstuffs. Think of the “creme” inside Oreos, which contains no dairy, and certainly no cream. Bacos “bacon” bits were mostly soy and completely kosher. So grab a sandwich (guaranteed sand-free) and put some “bredd” on the table.
(No) kids these days: Unfettered by office hours and freed by on-the-go wi-fi, young people (read: no kids, mortgage is still a pipe dream) are packing up and heading out on the open road, remote working while on sightseeing vacations. It’s not exactly backpacking through Europe, since most countries won’t let Americans in, but there are plenty of national parks, state capitols and Waffle Houses to visit in the lower 48. And small towns across the country can use every tourist dollar they can get.
The greatest showman: Hugh Jackman appears as God (and possibly a cheeky lawyer) intended, in the buff but for a nice pair of dress shoes in a spot for R.M Williams by Maximum Effort, the agency founded by Jackman friend and foil Ryan Reynolds. Jackman takes his contract seriously, and very literally, with revealing results.
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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