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Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters. 

Worth another look

Sometimes, even the paper of record needs to make a case for itself. In 2017, The New York Times was mulling how to address rampant misinformation coming from a new presidential administration while also boosting subscriptions. The result was “The Truth Is Worth It,” a deceptively straightforward look behind the scenes at some of the paper’s biggest headlines.

The new Ad Age docuseries “Backstory” kicks off with a look at the campaign, with firsthand accounts from David Droga, New York Times chief marketing officer David Rubin and other members of the creative and client teams.

Just as the ads in the series walk through edits and iterations and the story developed in the field, “Backstory” follows the winding path of the creative process as told by the people who wrestled it into existence in the first place.

Spring re-awakening

As vaccines roll out and the (perceived) threat of COVID-19 diminishes, marketers are preparing to unleash media spending in support of a roaring 20s-style return to consumerism.

“From retailers to airlines and hospitality, special-occasion brands and media vendors, the marketing industry is looking to spring, typically a time of rebirth and renewal, to reconnect with customers,” writes Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli. “Consumer sentiment is switching from 'hesitation to hope,'” as Marriott International marketing exec Brian Povinelli puts it, which is “fueling an anticipated spending surge from consumers releasing their pent-up shopping demand.”

For more insights on the spring spree, including the results of an exclusive Ad Age-Harris Poll, read on.

Suiting up

An Amazon employee filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company alleging that Black workers and women were hired at lower levels and compensated less than their white counterparts. A recent investigation by Vox detailed similar circumstances at Amazon, with Black employees less likely to be hired, promoted and fairly compensated.

It’s a standard scenario at many tech, media and advertising companies, but all the more aggravating given that Amazon surely has the resources to tackle the problem if it was a priority. The retail giant reported its largest quarterly revenue in company history just a few weeks ago.

If change does come, it might start at the grassroots level. An Amazon warehouse in Alabama is attempting to unionize, according to Bloomberg, with workers saying they were inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sharp as a tax

As Congress deliberates the specifics of another COVID relief bill, Senator Elizabeth Warren has revived a proposal for a wealth tax on the very richest Americans, a plan similar to a plank of her presidential run.

It’s a popular idea, according to The New York Times, which has the potential to raise trillions of dollars in revenue over a decade, by tapping the resources of the very people who have benefited the most from the K-shaped economic recovery—billionaires and multimillionaires. It’s also just one of the ideas being floated by congressional Democrats at a time when it’s unclear how far to the left the Biden administration will ultimately be willing, or able, to tack.

At the same time, one group of people who definitely will be paying taxes is anyone who received unemployment benefits during the pandemic, according to the Washington Post. Now that tax season is upon us, millions of people who have lost their jobs in the last year are realizing that unemployment is taxable income, so if they didn’t prepay their tax liability or save some of each check to pay later, they’re now looking at hefty sums owed to the very government that might be cutting them another check soon.

Today's the day

Today is the final deadline for Ad Age's 2021 A-List and Creativity Awards. Like every year, the Ad Age editorial team awards the best agencies with a spot on the A-List. Debbie Vandeven, global chief creative officer of VMLY&R, leads the Creativity Awards Work jury. Bonnie Wan, partner and head of brand strategy at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, heads the People jury. Dara Treseder, senior VP and head of global marketing and communications at Peloton, leads the Business jury. And Diane Jackson, chief production officer at DDB Chicago, heads the Production jury.

Just briefly

Smoke show: Seth Rogen is finally doing what he was meant to be doing. The (insert stoner movie here) actor has spent the last 10 years working on his cannabis brand, Houseplant, complete with multiple strains named for weather systems, simply designed smoking accouterments and musical homages on vinyl.

Get a room: Faced with the increasing popularity of upstart Clubhouse, Instagram has introduced Rooms, a feature allowing up to four people to broadcast live simultaneously, twice as many as previously allowed. Audiences can still buy badges for hosts, and Instagram is planning to roll out additional moderator controls over the next few months.

Dare to skip the dairy: Starbucks has teamed up with Oatly to offer new oat milk-based drinks available in stores beginning today, according to Business Insider. In addition to the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and the Honey Oatmilk Latte, all stores will carry oat milk as one of the chain’s standard milk alternatives.

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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