See Adweek’s Retail Award Winners; DJ Khaled Talks Branding Successes: Monday’s First Things First

Plus, Corona beer deals with associations with coronavirus

Fresh off his wild Hard Rock Super Bowl spot, DJ Khaled spoke to Adweek about how he continues to evolve his brand. Rose Marie Cromwell for Adweek
Headshot of Jameson Fleming

Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s new daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Adweek Retail Awards: 31 Standout Brands Whose Resilience in the Face of Challenges Inspired Innovation

One of the biggest trends in retail and brand marketing in 2019 was the explosive rise of new brands and products.

  • With a chicken sandwich that absolutely jumped onto the scene in 2019 and boosted comparable sales by a whopping 34% in the fourth quarter, there’s no wonder why we named Popeye’s the top QSR brand of the year.
  • You couldn’t swing a dead cat in the summer of 2019 without hitting some hard seltzer. Naturally, that means White Claw is our top spirits brand.
  • Pepsi or Coke? McDonald’s or Burger King? Impossible or Beyond? In this case: It’s Impossible. Plant-based meats had their moment in 2019, and Impossible burgers scored the biggest spotlight, snagging deals with the aforementioned Burger King, White Castle and most recently Disney.

In our inaugural retail awards, we looked at much more than just the top brands across a number of segments. We broke down a number of third-party solutions that help brands grow, including the best anti-fraud company, the best retail analytics company and best ecommerce platform.

Read more: See all 31 winners and explanations detailing their successes in 2019.

How DJ Khaled Has Made Confidence a Brand—and a Formula for Outsize Success

DJ Khaled is everywhere—Super Bowl ads, movies, soundtracks, albums. You name it, he’s already done it (probably in just this year, too)—including welcoming a new son. While Khaled has already accomplished so much, it may all just be part of his Act 1 as the superstar has plans to launch a new business venture, a youth center and expand his movie career. Khaled will take the main stage this week at Adweek’s Challenger Brands Summit in New York to talk about what marketers can learn from his success.

Read more: Khaled spoke with Adweek senior editor Nicole Ortiz about his exploding career and what’s on the horizon.

Related: Khaled is the one of a long line of celebrity brand savants to grace the cover of Adweek and Brandweek recently.

Is Corona Beer Facing a Brand Crisis Because of Coronavirus?

It’s hard to believe this is a question we had to ask, but recent data suggests that yes, Corona beer is suffering through an unfortunate association with the coronavirus spreading throughout the world. A recent survey found that 38% of beer-drinking consumers would not buy Corona under any circumstances now—and 16% were confused about whether the beer is connected to the outbreak. Corona didn’t help its cause when recently a new hard seltzer with the tagline “Coming ashore,” which was met with swift criticism. Things aren’t all bad for the beer brand. While searches confusing it with the virus totaled nearly 75,000, searches for the beer increased 406% from December to January.

Read more: It’s a bizarre time to be Corona beer. Experts weighed in on how the brand should handle the situation.

Related: As the virus has spread through China, ecommerce behemoths Alibaba and JD.com stepped up to provide a number of resources, including an AI algorithm that can identify coronavirus cases and videoconference services. In the U.S., Shopify canceled its annual developers conference over concerns about the virus.

10 Wins in 100 Days: How Pereira O’Dell Got on a Hot Streak

Pereira O’Dell can’t stop winning. The agency snagged a mix of new business and expansions of duties for brands like AB InBev, Zelle, Adobe (which the agency defended in a review), Intel, Lucky Brand and others in a span of just 100 days. So how did it do it? POD’s managing director in New York, Mona Gonzalez, spoke with Adweek about the success, revealing the benefits of becoming a bi-coastal agency and working in smaller teams.

Read more: The full interview explains what’s behind the agency’s blistering trail of victories.

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

Ad of the Day: Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin Toast an 84-Year-Old Leap Baby for Finally Turning 21

Ryan Reynolds argues in a new Leap Day spot for Aviation Gin that there’s no better way to celebrate your 21st birthday if you were born on Leap Day in 1936 than making your first legal alcohol purchase you guessed it: Aviation Gin.


Confessions of the Adweek Executive Mentees

The inaugural Adweek Executive Mentor Program (which will double in size in 2020) connected 110 of the world’s top leaders with 116 executive mentees—the up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow. The mentees share their experiences with the program, as well as these key takeaways:

“Always ask yourself, how are you audaciously achieving? In that answer, you’ll find that there is always more room for you to grow.”  — Neville Hall, Jr. (mentored by Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, chief business officer, Beautycon Media).

“If you are going to rebel, rebel from inside the organization.” — Matt Story (mentored by Victoria Russell, chief of diversity, equity and inclusion, Papa John’s).

 


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