Retailers Start Shutting Down; Frozen 2 Drops Early: Monday’s First Things First

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Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s new daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Odds are you’re reading this not on your way to work (or at your desk) as many agencies and brands have shut down their offices across New York, San Francisco, Boston and the rest of the U.S (that said, many holding companies have kept offices open, but are giving employees flexibility on whether to come in). Last night, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took the unprecedented step to stop bars and restaurants from serving customers, unless it’s for takeout or delivery.

Retailers are also shutting down as Lululemon, Nike, Warby Parker, Apple and many more won’t open their doors, most for two weeks to help flatten the curve of the outbreak. Meanwhile, French luxury giant LVMH is turning three of its perfume and cosmetics factories into sites to produce hand sanitizer. Grocery stores are scaling back hours—Walmart and many others will no longer stay open around the clock in order to clean their stores and restock their shelves overnight. America’s largest cruise lines have suspended operations for 30 days to help curb the spread of the virus, while airlines are facing layoffs and bailouts.

The tourism industry faces a daunting challenge after the president banned European travelers last week as 850,000 Europeans would have normally traveled to the U.S. during this period. In Seattle, which typically has one of the highest hotel occupancy rates in the country, hotels are just 52% full.

The TV networks are also scrambling. Disney and WarnerMedia could lose out on nearly $700 million of ad revenue if the rest of the NBA season is canceled. Regional sports networks will miss out on at least two weeks (but likely longer) of revenue for MLB games. Plus, March Madness is already canceled. TV/video editor Jason Lynch did a deep dive into how networks are adjusting to life without sports. One sports league that could have its moment is esports. With no crowds necessary and most competitions taking place online, esports could explode onto the scene over the next couple months.

There is some positive news out there. Our Agency Spy blog asked readers for the best things agencies are doing to help out the ad world or their local communities. Check out the responses here. Also, for anyone who has young kids at home (raises hand—I’ve got a toddler and a baby), Disney+ gave parents a break by releasing Frozen 2 on the streaming service three months early. Now if only Netflix would give us Ozark early.

Before we continue on in the newsletter, I’d like to share a note from Lisa Granatstein, our editor, svp programming, who has been a key leader in our newsroom during this crisis:

“For many years, more than I really care to admit, I’ve covered the ebb and flow of marketing and media, watching the industry successfully navigate emergencies of epic proportions, from 9/11 to the 2003 Northeast blackout and hurricanes. Each time, advancements in technology enabled us to better communicate and serve our customers. Each time, the show went on.

Now we’re facing our latest challenge, the COVID-19 virus. While events like SXSW, the NAB Show, video game trade expo E3, and a slew of NewFronts and Upfronts presentations are being canceled as we speak, platforms like Google Hangout, Slack, Skype and Zoom are presenting new opportunities for businesses and clients alike.

One way or another, the show will go on.

Here too, at Adweek, we’ve had to adjust our schedule. Earlier this month, more than 700 marketing execs joined us at our second annual Challenger Brands Summit in New York. Since then, like other companies, we’ve had to put a pin in a couple of live events. Instead, we’ll be offering our partners gearing up for NewFronts and Upfronts a virtual conference capability that we’re calling Adweek Spotlight. It’s a customized, streamed event in HD that will amplify network presentations in conjunction with editorial thought leadership.

The Adweek editorial team remains committed to helping our community do their jobs better, and that means providing the insight and foresight on the virus’ business implications in print and online, which includes a regularly updated events tracker and breaking-news email alerts.”

Read the rest of Lisa’s editor’s letter here.

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