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Ad Age

May 08, 2020

By Lindsay Rittenhouse

Plus: S4 Capital released its first-quarter results this week, one agency gives mom what she truly wants this Mother’s Day and more

As we know, most production worldwide has come to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The issue has forced marketers and advertisers to get crafty in developing ads, something they are well trained to do. Agency execs say they are leaning on everything from drones to stock footage to animation to create spots for clients. Still, it remains a big challenge.

Genero, a self-proclaimed global creative platform for marketers, has developed an interactive map to assess the state of marketing and advertising production worldwide during this time. The Global Production Status Map provides marketers with a snapshot of the production restrictions in place in 80 global markets, “so they can make decisions about where, when and what to shoot,” says Genero. The company says it used data gathered from hundreds of its creators in its network and verified them against news and government sources. According to the map, Canada allows for medium-scale productions in certain areas like Vancouver with limited crews and social distancing as does China and Australia, among others; Iceland, as has been reported, has limits on gatherings of over 50 people but live production can move forward; and certain areas of the U.S. allow for small-scale productions depending on the state. Genero reports that 41.3 percent of the world currently allows for post production and studio product shoots; 31.3 percent allows for small-scale studio productions with talent; 26.3 percent allows for medium-scale productions with restrictions; and only 1.3 percent is open for full-scale productions.

“These are unprecedented times for the creative industry and obviously safety is the first priority,” Genero CEO and Co-Founder Mick Entwisle says. “But for marketers who haven’t had to hit pause completely, this map provides a range of options for moving forward with the relevant precautions in place. We’re so proud to see our creators around the world coming up with safe, innovative ways to keep producing content in such a challenging environment.”More Ad Age newsThe Martin Agency’s Kristen Cavallo on being proactive during the pandemicLindsay RittenhouseA regularly updated list tracking marketers’ response to coronavirusAd Age Staff18 brands getting in on virtual graduations and proms (with a slew of celebs)Ilyse Liffreing

S4 Capital’s first-quarter update

Alongside its first quarter earnings release this week, S4 Capital detailed the cost-cutting measures it has implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. S4 Founder and Executive Chairman Martin Sorrell says the company has reduced non-essential expenses; reduced hiring; some of its executives have taken pay cuts; and it has “adjusted” its “headcount numbers marginally to reflect changing functional and geographic patterns in client demand.” Sorrell says, too, that S4 will examine “office lease patterns in various cities” and terminate and consolidate real estate “where possible.” He says “many of our people are indicating a current preference to continue to work from home.” S4 employs a network of 2,500 people across 30 countries. MightyHive, part of S4, also announced that it would be offering clients a free trial of MightyDesk—a suite of tools that enables media buyers to scale their programmatic operations—throughout the second quarter due to the pandemic. That offers follows Publicis Groupe saying it would be offering clients a 100 percent refund should Epsilon fail to deliver on specific business outcomes.

S4 reported its first-quarter revenue rose 73 percent to £71.0 million ($88 million), its like-for-like sales were up 17 percent and gross profit was up more than 85 percent. The company broke out its gross profit figures by month: January was up 33 percent, February was up 21 percent and March lagged, up only 6 percent. S4’s new-business wins in the first quarter included assignments from PayPal, Quibi, Twitch, Domino’s, Fuji Television, Dole Food Co. and AkzoNobel. The company says “new business activity is still frenetic” and it also was added to the agency rosters of “two major multinational clients, one CPG and one pharma” in the first quarter.

“Our clients have continued to increase their investment in digital content, programmatic and data and analytics, but at varying rates depending on the individual categories,” Sorrell says. “Our tech clients, which account for approximately half of our revenue, have by and large continued to invest, particularly in purpose campaigns, although there has been some genuine postponement of spending from the first or second quarters into the second half. The other half, dominated by FMCG or CPG companies, pharma and retail is more mixed, with some cutting or reducing spend and, of course, investment in purpose campaigns too.”

This Mother’s Day, ‘Leave Mom the Fuck Alone’

Yard NYC is helping moms get the gift they really want this Mother’s Day: “to be left the fuck alone.” In a PSA, the independent creative agency tells kids to make their own damn meals, stop hijacking mom’s conference calls with colleagues and, please, let her pee in peace. The hilarious ad is part of a larger campaign created by Yard, aptly named “Leave Mom the Fuck Alone,” and provides some comedic relief to the woes parents are facing quarantined in their homes with their children. The campaign reminds kids that all moms might need right now is a break, done in the same vein as viral books “Go the Fuck to Sleep” and “All the Places You’ll Eff Up.” The project includes the short film below, a social media campaign and custom merchandise like tote bags, desktop wallpapers and Zoom backgrounds available for purchase here. All of the profits from the campaign will go toward helping mothers affected by the pandemic.

“Seeing so many moms leading the charge at work, carrying so much of the weight on the front lines and figuring out how to homeschool on the fly moved us to want to celebrate moms in a big way this year,” Yard NYC CEO Ruth Bernstein says. “As a mom myself, I know how difficult it can be to juggle everything and I applaud how moms are making it work. But we didn’t think the world needed another sad and sappy spot talking about ‘these unprecedented times,’ so we decided to cut through the noise and have a little fun.”