Live Updates: Tracking How Coronavirus Is Impacting Brands and Agencies

An updated list due to the pandemic

Keeping track of the all the latest closings, including Nike, Apple and Warby Parker. Getty Images

As the coronavirus—the infection that causes the illness Covid-19—has quickly spread across the world, global industries have struggled to adjust as businesses shut down and international travel slows to a trickle.

Starting in the end of February, Adweek kept a running list of how the pandemic is affecting the ad world, from event cancellations to layoffs and market updates.

On March 24, we launched another resource: Adweek Together, a daily live discussion at 1 p.m. on LinkedIn hosted by Adweek editors along with the leaders of the agencies, brands and companies we cover. Together, we’ll be seeking guidance, solutions and information as we work through the coronavirus crisis.

For more of our coverage related to the pandemic, visit our coronavirus and life in quarantine landing pages.

Editor’s note: All times are E.T.

April 16, 2020

8:30 a.m.: More than 5.2 million people made initial claims for unemployment insurance last week

The Labor Department announced the latest numbers this morning, which bring the total initial claims for the last four weeks to over 22 million.

April 15, 2020

7 a.m.: Tour de France 2020 has been rescheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 20

The annual race was previously scheduled to take place June 27-July 19, and will follow the same route, with no changes, from Nice to Paris. The women’s event, La Course by le Tour de France avec FDJ, will also be rescheduled to a date that has yet to be determined.

April 10, 2020 

1:45 p.m.: The XFL has suspended all of its day-to-day operations, and all team and league employees have been terminated effective immediately 

April 9, 2020

5:54 p.m.: Kia Motors donates $1 million to charities working to assist homeless youth during the coronavirus pandemic

The donation is a continuation of Kia’s support for homeless youth—which was also the theme of its 2020 Super Bowl spot—and its Covid-19 response efforts. It’s dubbed the new program “Accelerate the Good,” and has also donated personal protective equipment to medical workers in Orange County, California, where Kia is based.

Kia’s Super Bowl spot earlier this year told the story of Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who grew up homeless. The automaker’s new “Accelerate the Good” spot, created by Kia’s agency of record David&Goliath, stars the same youth actor that played Jacobs in the super bowl spot and features a voiceover discussing the ways that the pandemic uniquely affects young people living on the street.


8:30 a.m.: More than 6.6 million people made initial claims for unemployment insurance last week

The Labor Department announced the latest numbers this morning, which bring the total initial claims for the last three weeks to over 16 million.

April 8, 2020

3:11 a.m.: Dr. Fauci bobblehead sales raise more than $100,000 in donations to support healthcare workers

Last week, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum revealed a new bobblehead fashioned after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and face of the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic. For each bobblehead sold, the Hall of Fame committed to donating $5 to the American Hospital Association’s 100 Million Masks Challenge, an initiative to support frontline healthcare workers with personal protective equipment. By this morning, the Dr. Fauci bobbleheads had led to more than $100,000 in donations.

April 7, 2020 

7:46 p.m.: Nike announces partnership with Oregon Health & Science University to manufacture personal protective equipment for frontline workers

The company will be producing full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator lenses to protect against the coronavirus.

5:53 p.m.: Adweek introduces #MediaTogether, a place for media workers to share their stories and connect with others in the business

Following waves of layoffs and furloughs at media companies around the country, Adweek wanted to support the journalists faced with unexpected changes due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The project invites journalists to tell their stories in the hopes of building a network useful to those impacted—one that can connect those looking for work with those who can provide jobs.

9:50 a.m.: Hilton is teaming up with American Express to donate 1 million hotel room nights across the United States for medical professionals fighting Covid-19 

9:33 a.m.: Little Caesars will donate a million pizzas to frontline heroes over the coming weeks. Starting April 13, customers can also donate a pizza to first responders and healthcare workers via the chain’s app

7:22 a.m.: Lowe’s is refocusing its message on community support for essential workers in new 30-second spot 

7 a.m.: The Clio Awards have delayed their main ad awards program from October 2020 to April 2021 

1:48 a.m.: The MLB and the MLB Players Association are eyeing Arizona as a possible location to start the season as early as May 

The MLB and the MLB Players Association are focused on a plan that could lead them to kickoff the 2020 season as early as May. Their “fanless stadium” alternative has been reportedly deemed safe and has been backed by high-ranking federal public health authorities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. All 30 teams would be able to play games and/or train in the Phoenix area, including at Chase Field and 10 nearby facilities. Essential staff and players would be socially isolated in hotels and would only travel to and from the stadiums.

A multitude of obstacles and matters—such as how to keep players six feet apart during game time—will need to be resolved between the league, the union, and public health officials before coming to an agreement.

1:00 a.m.: Tripadvisor is donating $1 million to Covid-19 relief efforts focused on the travel industry 

April 6, 2020 

6:25 p.m.: Mattress Firm will temporarily pay partial rent on its store locations

5:05 p.m. R/GA New York partners with local New York businesses to create custom merchandise

All proceeds from the T-shirts and tote bags designed by the agency will go to support the businesses, which include Metro Community Laundromat, Keg & Lantern, Harlem Doggie Day Spa, Lighthouse, Astor Place Hairstylists, New Kam Hing Coffee Shop and Astoria Bookshop.

April 3, 2020

2:05 a.m.: Cannes Lions 2020 is canceled

Cannes Lions, that the annual Festival of Creativity, will not take place in 2020. On May 18, organizers pushed the Festival from its normal June dates to October in light of the pandemic.

“Our difficult decision follows in-depth consultations with our partners and customers and reflects the unprecedented societal, health and economic challenges currently facing the world, as well as our desire to remove any uncertainty about the running of the awards and event for our partners and customers,” organizers said in a statement. “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark.”

The next edition will run June 21-25, 2021.

April 2, 2020

12:42 p.m.: The Democratic National Convention has been postponed by about a month in light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis

The convention, where delegates will confirm their party’s candidate for the presidential race was originally slated to take place July 13-16. It is now scheduled to take place the week of Aug. 17, putting the DNC a week before the Republican National Convention, which is still scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.

8:30 a.m.: New unemployment claims soar

After a record 3.3 million unemployment claims last week, the U.S. Labor Department announced that it had processed 6,648,000 new claims this week. In the last two weeks, more than 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment as the U.S. economy has shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

7:38 a.m.: Unions demand better working conditions at Amazon warehouses

In an open letter released today, lead unions like the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, among others, demanded that Amazon close its warehouses until it can comply with CDC recommendations regarding social distancing and sanitization of work surfaces. That would include, according to the letter, that Amazon cancel rate and productivity requirements, provide paid sick leave for workers who are sick or have to take care of a loved one who is sick, cover childcare expenses during school closures and comply with independent sanitization inspections.

April 1, 2020

12:53 p.m.: New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority continues to run subway and bus services for essential workers, but asks everyone else to stay home

The MTA said it’s running as much service as it can with crews who are healthy and available to work, though service on many lines is limited.

11 a.m.: Wimbledon is canceled for the first time since World War II

The 134th tennis championships were scheduled for June 28-July 11.

10 a.m.: Southern supermarket chain Publix is offering rent relief in Publix-owned shopping centers 

Publix, a Southern supermarket chain that currently operates roughly 1,243 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, is offering rent relief to tenants in Publix-owned shopping centers that have closed due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The relief package includes waiving rent payments for two months and waiving payments for common area maintenance fees and taxes.

Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S.

8:10 a.m.: Home Depot announces 160 hours of paid time off for high-risk employees, limits number of people in the store at one time

The home improvement retailer had already added 80 hours of paid time off for full-time employees and 40 hours for part-time employees. Unlike other businesses that have added sick time contingent upon a Covid-19 diagnosis or doctor’s recommendation to self-isolate, Home Depot said that these hours are to be used at the employee’s discretion and paid out at the end of the year if unused.

March 31, 2020

4:17 p.m.: Amazon is helping Lyft drivers find work in their fulfillment centers to support grocery and packaging deliveries 

Amazon is collaborating with Lyft by encouraging its drivers to apply for roles in the jumbo e-commerce retailer’s fulfillment centers. Amazon recently opened up more than 100,000 new roles to support the increased demand for delivering critical supplies. In addition, Amazon is slightly increasing hourly pay in the United States, Canada and Europe through the end of April.

3:57 p.m.: Hobby Lobby quietly reopens stores in Ohio and Wisconsin, defying state-mandated lockdowns and prompting police intervention

The arts-and-crafts retailer reopened dozens of stores in the Midwest in defiance of official shutdown orders, distributing memos to employees on how to respond to authorities that may ask why the store was open. At least one store in Wisconsin was forcibly closed by police.

3:45 p.m.: Amazon’s firing of a Staten Island warehouse walkout organizer prompted New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to call for investigation

Amazon alleges that they fired Chris Smalls, a warehouse employee in Staten Island who helped organize a worker walkout on Monday to protest health safeguards and hygienic conditions, because Smalls went against the company’s quarantine and safety policies.

The sudden termination prompted New York Attorney General Letitia James to call for a federal labor investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. Shortly after James’ response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city’s human rights commissioner to conduct an investigation into the firing.

2 p.m.: London-based holding company WPP is cutting costs in light of the pandemic 

In light of the spread of Covid-19, WPP is implementing a hiring freeze, stopping discretionary costs, postponing planned salary increases for this year and suspending its $1.2 billion share buyback program (funded by its recent sale of Kantar). Moreover, members of WPP’s executive committee and board are taking a 20% reduction in their salaries or fees for a starting period of three months.

The London-based holding company predicts these cost-cutting measures will generate about $869-$993 million in savings for 2020.

Noon: Despite the overall grim environment for the retail sector amid Covid-19 closures, Nike had better than expected third-quarter results 

Despite having to shutter retail locations and curtail store hours in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Nike reported better than expected third-quarter results, with revenues up 5% globally to $10.1 billion.

Surprisingly, Nike reported only a 5% decrease in sales in Greater China for the quarter ending Feb. 29, even though most of the country was under quarantine during that time and roughly 75% of Nike-owned and partner stores in the region where closed or operating on reduced hours.

How’d the athletic retail giant make it though the overall grim environment for the retail sector? A robust e-commerce presence in China (and Nike’s unique situation in the country) helped.

9 a.m.: The Interactive Advertising Bureau postpones the NewFronts until June

Three weeks after shifting this year’s Digital Content NewFronts to a virtual event in light of the novel coronavirus, the IAB is now postponing the entire annual event for nearly two months. The NewFronts, which had been slated to take place April 27-May 6, have been moved to the week of June 22, the IAB said today in a blog post.

The delay comes a week after buyers indicated to Adweek that they would likely not be able to conduct upfront negotiations in the usual late spring/summer time frame as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the industry.

7:55 a.m.: ESPN will release a new docuseries about Michael Jordan and the 90s Chicago Bulls earlier than planned

The highly anticipated 10-part series, called The Last Dance, will air weekly over 5 weeks from April 19-May 17. Outside the U.S., the episodes will be available on Netflix the day after they air.

March 30, 2020

8:07 p.m.: Kohl’s and Gap announce indefinite furloughs of around 80,000 workers each

The retailers join Macy’s, food distributor Sysco Corp. and newspaper giant Gannett in furloughing workers due to the coronavirus-related economic slowdown.

6:42 p.m.: Airbnb to set aside $250 million to help hosts cover costs of Covid-19 cancellations

The company also extended the window for coronavirus-related cancellations through May 31, offering full refunds to guests who booked prior to March 14. Previously, Airbnb had committed to refunding trips through April 14.

12:28 p.m.: Whole Foods employees plan to strike Tuesday to protest lack of worker protections during pandemic

The strike at the grocery chain follows a string of actions from workers in essential industries related to the way the economy has changed as a result of the coronavirus. Today, Instacart and Amazon workers were on strike demanding better worker protections, and General Electric employees protested demanding that jet factories pivot to making ventilators.

12:10 p.m.: Facebook pledges another $100 million to support the news industry

The social media giant said today in a blog post that $25 million will go toward emergency grants for local publishers, while $75 million will go to additional market spending.

11:25 a.m.: Top execs at the Walt Disney Company will forego salaries or take pay cuts as parks stay closed

Walt Disney Company executive chairman Bob Iger will forego his entire salary amid the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut. Other executives will have their salaries cut by 20-30%, according to reports.

9:02 a.m.: Amazon launches a blog promising daily updates about its coronavirus response

The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the company’s ecommerce systems, prompting the addition of 100,000 temporary workers to help fulfill orders. The blog features announcements regarding health and safety procedures and corporate philanthropy related to the pandemic.

8:47 a.m.: The International Olympic Committee sets new dates for postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The Summer Olympics, postponed last week as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, have been rescheduled. The Games—which will still be called the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020—will take place from July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympic Games will be held from Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021. The new dates were agreed upon today by the the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the governments of Japan and Tokyo.

March 28, 2020

1:37 p.m.: Oregon launches blunt Covid-19 message: Stay home or you could accidentally kill someone

The posters, video spots and social media posts, created by Portland agency Wieden + Kennedy, are equally impactful and blunt with messages like “Don’t Accidentally Kill Someone” and “Keep Portland Weird Alive.”

March 27, 2020

5:08 p.m.: Visa’s CEO commits to no coronavirus-related layoffs for the company’s 20,000 employees

2:12 p.m.: Google and parent company Alphabet commit $800 million in ad grants and direct financial support to small businesses, health organizations and governments

The tech giant will give $250 million in ad grants to the World Health Organization, $340 million to small- and medium-sized businesses and $200 million to non-governmental organizations and financial institutions that help small businesses access capital.

1:29 p.m. The U.S. House of Representatives passes a $2 trillion spending bill to combat the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic

7:15 a.m. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces via Twitter that he has tested positive for Covid-19

March 26, 2020

3:10 p.m.: PopSugar postpones its third annual Play/Ground festival, which was to be held in June in New York City

11:11 a.m.: NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell shared in a staff memo that he has Covid-19

9:37 a.m.: Airbnb’s CEO announces via Twitter that the company will provide housing to 100,000 Covid-19 responders around the world 

8:30 a.m.: Today would have been Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Instead, the league is celebrating the day virtually

With the start of the season postponed for at least two months, the league is streaming 30 games today across multiple platforms. It also set up a coronavirus information page on its website to support fans and combat disinformation.

Major League Baseball

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.
@monicroqueta Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.