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The ad goes to …

Disney, which owns ABC, has announced that Sunday's Academy Awards have sold out of ad space, despite coming off a down 2020 when ratings plunged. “Advertisers are still attracted to live events,” reports Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi.

As with this year's Super Bowl, a number of first-time advertisers have entered the Oscars mix—a group characterized as “COVID-thriving brands” by Jerry Daniello, senior VP, entertainment brand solutions, Disney Advertising Sales. Starbucks, Airbnb, Grey Goose, Apartments.com, Accenture and Freshpet are among those airing commercials during the telecast.

In another dive into this year’s Oscar ad race, Poggi also explores why brands like Verizon and Expedia are part of the mix. “For all the talk of the pandemic-related issues and concerns surrounding the coronavirus-delayed Hollywood hoopla—coupled with lackluster ratings of other recent awards shows and the preponderance of blockbuster films sidelined amid lockdowns—the Oscars will still serve as a launch pad for several big-budget marketing campaigns from the likes of Expedia, Verizon and General Motor's Cadillac, among others,” Poggi writes.

Snap to it

Snapchat reported surging ad revenue and a boost in its new video offering, Spotlight, when it released first-quarter results on Thursday. Spotlight, a competitive feature with TikTok, reached 125 million viewers in March, up from 100 million in January.

Meanwhile, Snapchat also saw ad sales rises 66% year over year to $770 million in the quarter. “Snapchat has been grabbing a larger piece of advertiser budgets in recent years as brands have been looking for new ways to reach younger audiences and adopt the latest technology like augmented reality and e-commerce ads,” reports Ad Age.

Unilever CMO

Ad Age’s Jack Neff sat down with Unilever's Conny Braams to discuss what it’s like to join a behemoth brand as chief marketing and digital officer right before the pandemic hit the U.S. and lead a sprawling in-house agency staffed by outsiders.

“Braams talks about the challenges of leading Unilever marketing during the pandemic, the rationale behind having a big ‘in-house’ agency when everyone is still at home and what a ‘return to normal’ might look like as the pandemic eases,” Neff writes.

Sails pitch

Princess Cruise Lines may not be cleared for sailing yet, given the ongoing pandemic, but the travel brand is trying to stay relevant with consumers.

Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz and E.J. Schultz look at Princess Cruise Lines’ latest social media campaign, “Why We Travel,” designed to keep the public in a traveling mindset.

“Cruise lines could be facing tough times for a while, and brands must wrestle with how aggressively to approach travelers,” writes Ad Age. “At the height of the pandemic, one analyst told Ad Age, ‘It’s going to take a miracle for the cruise line industry to recover in less than a decade,’ given all the negative press around cruises at that time.”

Just briefly

Facebook’s missteps: The social network failed to adequately purge conspiracy theorists who were promoting “Stop the Steal” election material in the run up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to an internal analysis from the social network. BuzzFeed reports on a series of miscalculations that left Facebook unprepared to uncover all the malicious accounts that organized on the service.

Jake Paul revealed: The New York Times looks into the rise of Jake Paul, a social media star who has been blamed for some of the worst excesses of “influencer” culture, and has recently been accused of sexual assault, according to The Times. “He remains the blueprint for many social media stars today,” The Times writes.

Check out Amazon: Amazon is ready to roll out its cashier-less checkout system to large supermarkets, not just corner stores, according to Bloomberg News. Amazon appears to have cleared a significant technical hurdle to handling shoppers en masse, Bloomberg reports.

Small Agency Awards: There are only three working days left to enter this year's Small Agency Awards. We want to hear how you survived the headwinds of 2020, how your creative product and strategic thinking helped a client's business and why the culture that you've built not only helps win clients, but also nurtures talent and builds a better future for the industry. Enter at adage.com/saa2021.

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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