Mental Health Tips for Marketers; Small Biz Aid May Come at a Price for Big Brands: Friday’s First Things First

Plus, CPG brands came up with creative alternatives to free samples

Much of the federal aid meant to help independent businesses instead went to large corporations. Getty Images
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s 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.

What Agencies Are Doing to Support the Mental Health of Their Employees

We surveyed more than 75 marketers and agency leaders on what they’re doing to support their employees’ mental well-being. Agencies and brands such as DiGennaro Communications, Futurebrand and Publicis Groupe shared that they’ve extended free memberships for their employees to teletherapy and meditation apps.

For parents struggling to balance their time during the lockdown, agency Levelwing arranged check-ins to help employees with kids manage their workloads, while Michigan-based agency Doner created a yoga and nutrition program for staffers’ children.

Read more: Others have taken a more out-of-the-box approach, like agency Chemistry, which is footing the bill for Yale University’s online course The Science of Wellbeing, which teaches methods to achieve happiness. 

  • Note: Every week or so, we survey agencies and other companies about workplace culture and career tips. Send us an email at jessica.zafarris@adweek.com to receive future surveys.

IPG CEO Michael Roth Says Holding Company ‘Will Not Rush Back to Our Offices’

In an internal memo sent to holding company employees, IPG’s CEO Michael Roth said the holding company will ease back into office life, taking a different tone than Omnicom CEO John Wren did in a similar note. Calling the process “a marathon, not a sprint,” Roth discussed staggering teams and continuing remote work for some employees.

Read more: Roth said IPG can learn from how other industries handle the return to the physical workplace before making that leap.

  • Related: Omnicom is integrating two agencies within Omnicom Precision Marketing Group, merging Proximity Worldwide and Rapp Worldwide.

Will Consumers Punish Big Brands for Taking Small Business Aid?

The federal Paycheck Protection Program was meant to distribute $349 billion worth of aid to small businesses through the federal Small Business Administration. Owing to a single paragraph in the 900-page package, scores of large companies were able to obtain federal assistance as well.

A notable few were prominent brands including Potbelly, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse chain, the Los Angeles Lakers and Shake Shack, the last of which returned the $10 million it received. Will these big brands that accepted small-business aid money suffer any damage—reputational or financial—as a result?

Read more: We talked with experts, some of whom believe backlash is unavoidable, while others think these brands might dodge it because the pandemic could keep Americans at home long enough for their anger to wane.

With In-Store Sampling on Hold, Brands Get Creative

In-store food sampling, one of the most effective marketing tactics for CPG brands, is on pause, and as a result, some of them are finding creative ways to continue getting their products into the hands of consumers. For example, Ian Wishingrad, co-founder of the cereal startup Three Wishes, set up a drive-thru sampling experience in his driveway, attracting media attention in the process.

Read more: Other brands like Pipcorn have turned to digital options and freebies for consumers who have never purchased their products before.

More Updates from the Retail World

Today’s TV and Streaming Highlights

  • Thursday was a busy day for the TV and streaming world. Most prominent, perhaps, was the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to pay a $48 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission over to its attempted $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.
  • From a $400 million hit at WarnerMedia to an expected 50% decline in local ad revenues at Fox Corp., the ongoing pandemic has had major negative effects on ad sales at nearly every major media company, according to quarterly earnings reports. And most execs warn that the worst is likely yet to come.
  • ViacomCBS told investors that its bulked-up streaming service that would build off CBS All Access will begin to materialize sometime this summer, featuring original programming, plus titles from Paramount, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Smithsonian.
  • A+E Networks is touting the fact that it currently has 1,000 hours of new content ready for air, with another 1,000 hours and 50 new movies in the works, including projects with President Bill Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Ad of the Day: Ryan Reynolds Wants You to Bring Home the Simple Pleasures (and Regrets) of Bar Life

In a new spot for Aviation Gin, Ryan Reynolds wants you to bring back that spirit of reckless revelry by ordering bottles online, with 30% of proceeds being donated to the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild to support the bartenders who “really, really miss you.”

More of the Latest


@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.