Morning Consult Brands: Tokyo 2020 Chief Does Not Rule Out Calling Off Summer Olympics
 

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July 21, 2021
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  • Toshiro Muto, who runs the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee, did not rule out a last-minute cancellation of the games, if the COVID-19 situation worsens, saying he would continue to watch infection numbers and have further conversations with organizers if necessary. A Tokyo 2020 spokesman added later that organizers were “concentrating 100% on delivering successful Games.” (Reuters)
  • AT&T Inc. is in talks to sell ad unit Xandr to Indian ad tech company InMobi, according to sources, who said the telecommunications giant mismanaged the unit and is losing tens of millions of dollars annually. Some sources said a $1 billion sale would be considered a success for AT&T, though people familiar with the company’s financials believe such an asking price is too high. (Axios)
  • Netflix Inc. projects it will add 3.5 million new subscribers in the third quarter, up from 2.2 million during the same time in 2020, despite signing up just 1.5 million new users globally in the second quarter. Netflix also laid out plans to add video games to the service, a new category aimed to attract nonsubscribers. (Variety)
  • Omnicom Group Inc. saw positive organic revenue growth for the first time since the pandemic began, reporting a year-over-year increase of 27.5 percent from $3.6 billion from $2.8 billion during the second quarter. Looking ahead, Chairman and Chief Executive John Wren said he predicts a rise in business activity for a wide range of sectors, including packaged goods and retail, and added that the holding company plans to hire more employees once new business comes in and clients start spending again. (Ad Age)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

Advertising
 

Out-of-Home Ad Costs Are Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Ilyse Liffreing, Ad Age

Looking for an out-of-home billboard for an upcoming campaign or event? Then act quickly and be prepared to pay a premium.

 

Marketers Spend Big on Back-to-School—Despite Looming Delta Variant

Adrianne Pasquarelli, Ad Age

Pre-pandemic, an early July email with the subject line “Are You In The Back-To-School Spirit Yet?” might elicit a groan from consumers.

 

TikTok launches native ad format with Spark Ads

Chris Sutcliffe, The Drum

The interruptive nature of many advertisements is an obstacle for brands. When a user’s journey through a platform or an app is disrupted, the favorability they feel for the brand is negatively impacted.

 

Ad tech bounces back

Sara Fischer, Axios

There’s been an explosion in advertising and marketing tech deals this year, according to new data, a sign of life for a sector that not long ago was looking ready to crumble with the deprecation of third-party tracking cookies.

 

Kanye West Confirms ‘Donda’ Drops Friday in New Beats by Dre Ad Starring Sha’Carri Richardson

Ellise Shafer, Variety

Kanye West has confirmed that his new album, “Donda,” drops on Friday. The release date was established during Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday within a Beats by Dre ad featuring track star Sha’Carri Richardson, which West scored and edited.

 

The NFL is taking a big chunk of its advertising in-house in a loss for ad giant Omnicom

Patrick Coffee, Insider Premium

The National Football League has become the latest big advertiser to take a big chunk of its advertising in-house, according to two people with direct knowledge.

 
Media and Entertainment
 

Substack makes first major podcast investment

Sara Fischer, Axios

Substack is funding the launch of a new podcast network called Booksmart Studios, executives tell Axios. It’s the newsletter company’s first major financial investment in podcasting.

 

With ‘Black Widow’ ticket buying suddenly drying up, growing questions for Disney’s Marvel about what did it in

Steven Zeitchik, The Washington Post

Maybe it’s the model. Or maybe it’s Marvel. Disney’s highly anticipated Marvel film “Black Widow” suffered a brutal blow at the box office this weekend, falling 67 percent compared to its opening weekend and dashing hopes at the company for a July hit.

 

Comcast and ViacomCBS face prisoner’s dilemma as they consider ways to work together

Alex Sherman, CNBC

The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard game theory situation often taught in business school. Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts and ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone are living it in real-time as they consider working together.

 

On Fox News, Vaccination Pleas Intensify, but Skepticism Persists

Michael M. Grynbaum et al., The New York Times

The morning anchor’s plea was urgent and framed in the starkest of terms: Get the Covid-19 vaccine, or you could die. 

 

Vice Media’s SPAC Talks Stall

Jessica Toonkel, The Information

Vice Media’s plan to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company has stalled as the company struggles to raise additional financing for the deal amid questions about Vice’s valuation, according to people familiar with the situation.

 

HBO Max Lets Snapchatters Sample Original Shows

Kelsey Sutton, Adweek

HBO Max is offering up free episodes of some of its original programming on Snapchat as another way to win over younger viewers and get them talking about the streaming service’s shows.

 

Fox has quietly implemented its own version of a vaccine passport while its top personalities attack them

Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Tucker Carlson has called the idea of vaccine passports the medical equivalent of “Jim Crow” laws. And other Fox News personalities have spent months both trafficking in anti-vaccine rhetoric and assailing the concept of showing proof of vaccination status.

 

Bezos donates $100 million each to CNN contributor Van Jones and chef José Andrés

Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and world’s wealthiest man, said Tuesday after flying to the edge of space that he planned to award $100 million each to CNN contributor Van Jones and chef José Andrés.

 
Social Media and Technology
 

YouTube adds a new way to tip creators

Catie Keck, The Verge

YouTube viewers will soon have a new way to throw their support — and money — behind their favorite creators. A new tool called Super Thanks that lets you tip creators is now being tested on the platform.

 

Facebook onboards another 31 newsletter writers on Bulletin

Amanda Silberling, TechCrunch

Late last month, Facebook announced Bulletin, its newsletter platform. 

 

Instagram adds new controls for limiting ‘sensitive’ content in the Explore tab

Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch

Instagram is giving its users a tiny bit more power to see what they want — and not see what they don’t want — in its content discovery hub.

 
PR and Marketing
 

Amazon Denied a Worker Pregnancy Accommodations. Then She Miscarried.

Lauren Kaori Gurley, Motherboard

Patty Hernandez, a 23-year-old Amazon warehouse worker in Tracy, California, miscarried after pleading with her manager and human resources for lighter duty.

 

Ben & Jerry’s Decision to Stop Sales in West Bank Puts Unilever in Tough Spot

Dov Lieber and Nick Kostov, The Wall Street Journal

Unilever PLC was engulfed in controversy Tuesday after its ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s said it would no longer sell its products in Jewish settlements located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem.

 

Chipotle customers come flocking back for lunchtime burritos despite the chain’s 30-cent price hikes

Mary Hanbury, Insider

Chipotle’s sales surged during the second quarter of 2021 as customers came flocking back to its restaurants despite price hikes on burritos and tacos.

 

Product Placement, Now Starring in the Streaming Era

Kelly Gilblom, Bloomberg Businessweek

Brands are increasingly spending big bucks to get their goods featured in shows and films as the rules of marketing change and viewers’ attention fades.

 

Low-Wage Workers Now Have Options, Which Could Mean a Raise

Eduardo Porter, The New York Times

McDonald’s is raising wages at its company-owned restaurants. It is also helping its franchisees hang on to workers with funding for backup child care, elder care and tuition assistance. Pay is up at Chipotle, too, and Papa John’s and many of its franchisees are offering hiring and referral bonuses.

 

Virgil Abloh Gets a Seat at the Power Table

Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times

Virgil Abloh — the fashion designer, DJ and pundit of pop culture — is about to become the most powerful Black executive at the most powerful luxury goods group in the world.

 

Nordstrom pivots as shopper habits change during pandemic

Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press

Like many of its peers, venerable department store chain Nordstrom is having a tough time keeping pace with customer demand for new clothes because of supply issues.

 

Ulta Beauty’s first mini shops in Target will open in August as both retailers chase new customers

Melissa Repko, CNBC

Starting in August, Target customers will be able to walk into select big-box stores and buy premium brands of mascara, lipstick and hairspray that they typically only find at specialty stores or at the mall.

 

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Rocketed to Space—And Brands Reacted

Sydney Gold, Ad Age

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took a quick vacation from being the wealthiest man on Earth on Tuesday, opting to briefly become the wealthiest man in space.

 

Disney Publicity Veteran Darrell Borquez Joins Shelter PR

Marc Malkin, Variety

Longtime Disney film studio publicist Darrell Borquez has joined Shelter PR as the agency’s VP of publicity. Borquez, who spent 15 years at Disney, will work closely with Shelter’s personal representation and film and television departments.

 

Julian Duncan Named Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer of NBA’s Houston Rockets

Jason Notte, Adweek

Football took Julian Duncan to Dusseldorf and Saskatchewan. Nike and Under Armor brought him into sports marketing. The Jacksonville Jaguars placed him in the C-suite. Now, the Houston Rockets are bringing him home.

 

Grey Goose and Uninterrupted Explore Moments That Sparked Iconic Athletic Careers in New Series

Shannon Miller, Adweek

When he was 12 years old, Muhammad Ali—known then as Cassius Clay—was robbed of his treasured red Schwinn bicycle. When he reported the theft to the police, he told the officer that he wanted to “whup” the criminal in retaliation.

 

“We’re Not Allowed to Hang Up”: The Harsh Reality of Working in Customer Service

Ariana Tobin et al., ProPublica

In their own voices, seven customer service representatives reveal what it’s like being caught between abusive callers and demanding employers.

 
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