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Industry reacts to Derek Chauvin verdict

Brands, agencies and industry figures have been reacting after Derek Chauvin on Tuesday was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in a Minneapolis courtroom. While the guilty verdict on three counts was celebrated as a vindication for the social justice and Black Lives Matter movements, many acknowledged the long road ahead to eradicating racism and police brutality.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, posted on Instagram: “While today’s verdict is a step forward in accountability, until we confront the ugly realities and root causes of what led us to this day, our people, our nation, will always fall short of their potential.” Amnesty International USA tweeted:  “In spite of this verdict convicting Derek Chauvin of killing George Floyd, we still have a system that’s racist to its core.” 

Others pointed to hope that the verdict would be a “turning point,” including Ben and Jerry’s, which called for “a new system of public safety that creates healthier and safer communities for all,” and Twitter’s Global Director of Culture and Community God-Is Rivera, who wrote: “May the system stop denying our humanity.” Among several agencies reacting, Goodby Silverstein & Partners said in an Instagram post: “We hope this moment creates a new and unbreakable trend in American history that demonstrates no one is above the law, and no one can take life at their discretion, no one. “ Perhaps one of the most succinct and pertinent tweets, however, came from NBA legend LeBron James, who simply posted the word: “Accountability.”

European ‘Super-League’ falls apart in two days

As the world reacted to the George Floyd murder verdict last night, in Europe a huge sports story was blowing up. On Monday, owners of top soccer clubs from the U.K.,Spain and Italy, including Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, announced they would leave the UEFA Champions League and create a closed European “Super-League” of clubs. The move would have major implications for sponsors and advertisers looking to reach soccer's huge audiences.

However, after condemnation of the move from fans, club managers, players, and world leaders including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, by Tuesday night all six of the U.K. clubs that had signed up had pulled out. This morning, Italian teams were also reportedly withdrawing. The Guardian has a useful timeline of what happened; it’s a salutary lesson of the power of fans and players versus the big bucks business of sport.

Negative numbers for Omnicom

Following news of Publicis’ return to organic growth last week, results from other advertising holding companies have been eagerly anticipated. However, Omnicom’s first quarter earnings, released yesterday, showed the group still recording negative numbers.

As Ad Age’s Brian Bonilla reports, the group reported a decrease in organic revenue of 1.8% in the first quarter of 2021. Although this was an improvement from the drop of 9.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020, Omnicom’s results were impacted by negative performance in the U.S, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. Asia Pacific was the sole region to see an increase in organic revenue of 2.5%. Nevertheless, Chairman and CEO John Wren insisted on an earnings call that he was optimistic, saying: “It is taking some time to turn the corner, and we are now on a clear path to return to growth.”

Nike splits with Kobe Bryant estate

Nike’s 18-year relationship with the late Kobe Bryant has come to an end  after his estate and the company failed to reach terms on an extension, reports Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz. Nike hasn't confirmed what was behind it but cited unnamed sources suggesting his wife Vanessa Bryant and estate grew “frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash. There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids' sizes.”

The termination sees the end of a storied advertising run; Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz takes a look back here at some of the most legendary Nike ads centered around Bryant, and his legacy.

Oscars hope for marketers

As Oscars finally takes place this Sunday, the Hollywood stars nominated for Academy Awards won’t be the only ones nervously biting their nails. Marketers are banking on the awards as they “desperately try to keep a firm grip on what value still remains for live TV events,” writes Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi. 

The broadcast will serve as a launch pad for big-budget marketing campaigns from the likes of Expedia, Verizon and Cadillac, with ABC asking about $2 million for a 30-second spot in this year’s show. But the Oscars will cap an awards season that saw nearly every major Hollywood spectacle hit record ratings lows.

Peak Netflix?

Have we reached peak Netflix? After the boom in subscribers it’s enjoyed during the pandemic, Netflix’s dramatic acceleration came to a squealing halt yesterday. The streaming service added just 3.98 million subscribers in the first quarter, missing Wall Street’s estimate of 6.29 million and its own forecast of 6 million.

Although Netflix has been warning for months that growth would slow after the pandemic, few expected it to stall so dramatically. The company partly blamed lack of new shows due to production slowing the pandemic; we’ll have to wait to see if it has a new “Queen’s Gambit” or “Bridgerton” up its sleeve. 

The TV industry spent the better part of the past year revamping corporate structures to put streaming at the center of  businesses. How will the 2021 annual ad haggle reflect these pivots? Hear from ad sales leaders, as well as top agency and brand executives, at Ad Age's TV Pivot on May 24 and 25. RSVP at

Just briefly

Dining in: Denny’s has picked Anomaly as its new creative agency following a formal review, reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl. It previously worked with EP+Co. as its agency of record since 2013. The appointment comes as the diner chain tries to rebound from the pandemic and to focus on innovation and inclusivity.

Mail sues Google: The U.K.’s Daily Mail, owner of MailOnline, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in the U.S. District Court of New York, reports Reuters. Among the allegations, the Mail is alleging that Google’s power over selling online ad space discriminates against it, saying Google "punished" publishers who "do not submit to its practices."

Super-charged: Apple’s “Spring Loaded” event on Tuesday saw the debut of its new “supercharged” iPad Pro and there’s a new ad to go with it. The spot “likens using the device to the thrill of space exploration and auto racing, with the help of some intense sound effects,” writes Creativity editor Ann-Christine Diaz. Take a look here. 

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. From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here. 

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