Cannabis Sales Surge; Adweek’s Wholesome April Fools’ Alternative: Thursday’s First Things First

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Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s 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.

Considered an Essential Business, Cannabis Sales Surge as Consumers Hunker Down

Ever wonder what everyone’s doing in their socially distanced spare time? Before the coronavirus pandemic, April 20, 2019 (ya know, the unofficial holiday of cannabis), was the high-water mark for legal cannabis sales. Those records have been shattered as industry sources report double- and triple-digit increases in sales from Maryland to Illinois to the Pacific Northwest in the wake of shelter-at-home rules.

Read more: Dispensaries and cannabis brands have been pivoting quickly to delivery, curbside pickup and online ordering to comply with social distancing mandates.

With the U.S. Stuck Inside, Where Does That Leave Out-of-Home Advertising?

With everyone stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, out-of-home advertising, such as signs on top of taxi cabs, subway advertisements, billboards and bus shelters, are no longer attracting the consumer attention they usually do. So what can advertisers that usually rely on OOH do? It turns out that as certain locations see a major drop-off in foot traffic, others like grocery stores, gas stations and and pharmacies have seen an uptick.

Read more: These shifting strategies require constant evaluation of the situation as it changes, and that’s why programmatic may be the key to success for OOH advertisers.

How the Ad Council Created 4 Coronavirus PSAs in a Pinch

While the Ad Council is no stranger to crisis—it was founded during World War II, after all—the coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges. Since March 13,the nonprofit has produced four unique campaigns working with dozens of partners across the media and industry as well as government agencies, the White House, and digital and out-of-home partners.

Read more: Here’s how the organization developed the PSAs in record time and garnered more than $4 million in donated media support in a single weekend.

Have you been following #AdweekTogether? On our daily live show that’s broadcast on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and our website, we talk about the challenges the advertising and marketing world are facing today—and how we can overcome them, together. Watch the latest episode here.

Why More Media Companies Are Cutting Salaries Instead of Laying Off People

Future Media GroupVice, BuzzFeed, Gannett and American Media Group have cut the salaries of their staff as a way, they say, to avoid more layoffs. Other publishers are likely to offer something similar. The hope is that these measures will preserve staff morale and keep the businesses running so when people can physically gather again, and marketing budgets are restored, publishers’ businesses will be able to handle the demand.

Read more: Some companies are banking on the pandemic as being a “short-term shock” to businesses. But not all publishers have avoided layoffs.

The Primary on Hold: Biden and Sanders Haven’t Run TV Ads in Weeks

In this brave new world, the two remaining Democratic candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—have gone off the airwaves completely: Neither Biden nor Sanders has run a television ad since March 17. For overall ad spend, the presidential race has “slowed considerably,” and digital advertising has been largely aimed at fundraising rather than persuasion.

Read more: The candidates’ virtual events have struggled to cut through the noise, but PACs are leading the charge with TV ads attacking Trump for his COVID-19 response.

More Coronavirus Updates from Advertising, Marketing and Media:

Best of the Rest: Today’s Top News and Highlights

For April Fools’ Day, Adweek Surprised Rising Ad Talents With Unexpectedly VIP Zoom Calls

This year, traditional April Fools’ Day gags feel pretty out of sync with the state of the world, as a global pandemic continues to leave people locked in their homes and riddled with anxiety. Instead of a prank for April Fools’ Day, Adweek invited a small group emerging ad professionals to call into one-on-one video chats via Zoom, then let them in on the secret: They would actually be talking to some of the biggest names in the industry. Watch to catch advice from DDB’s Wendy Clark, Make Love Not Porn’s Cindy Gallop, Vayner Media’s Gary Vaynerchuk, Burger King’s Fernando Machado, and Isaiah Mustafa (a.k.a. the Old Spice guy).

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