Thursday’s First Things First: What’s Next for Brands and Events as COVID-19 Rages On?

Plus, meet Austin’s 25 Brand Stars who share a Texas-sized spirit of innovation

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Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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Austin’s 25 Brand Stars Share a Texas-Sized Spirit of Community and Innovation

Before we cover how COVID-19 is impacting the industry below, we first want to take some time this morning to celebrate some brilliant marketers.

Austin, Texas, is perceived as one of the hippest markets in the United States: BBQ, the music scene and, of course, South by Southwest. From global operations to evolving brands, Austin beats to its own drum, famously keeping it—whatever it is—weird. But there is no question that Adweek’s inaugural Austin Brand Stars are committed to a future that befits a community who works to rise together.

Read more: Meet 25 innovators, community builders and visionaries who infuse Austin with a magic all its own.

Brands, Events and Advertisers Look to the Future Amid the Coronavirus Crisis

What Brands Can Do If the Coronavirus Crisis Drags On for Months

Much of the retail sector, along with many a popular food chain, has shut down stores and operations due to the spread of the coronavirus. Nobody knows how long this restrictive period will last, but the mere uncertainty of the pandemic’s duration calls into question just how well companies are equipped to manage a long-term disruption to their business. Taking it on the chin for the next quarter is one thing, but business may well be severely disrupted into the quarter after that—or longer.

Read more: In order to survive, brands may need to pivot to ecommerce and alternative marketing solutions in the coming months.

  • Related: Distressed retailers, already struggling to attract shoppers and service debt, may find it difficult to remain solvent due to the spread of the coronavirus and measures taken by governments and companies to contain it.

Entertainment Brands Chart Their Next Steps After Canceled SXSW

Entertainment brands that have long used the festival as a launching pad for major shows, films and media projects, are now scrambling to shore up new strategies. The emerging plan, according to some of them: swallow the losses, salvage and recycle what they can and try to figure out when they can gain back impressions they were counting on.

Read more: It’s no small task—and the more difficult challenge is looking for ways to make up lost media impressions. Learn how some brands are tackling it.

With Handshakes on Hold, Media Ad Sales Teams Must Navigate a New World Order

Media is a people business built on relationships. Pressing the flesh wins deals in ways that spray-and-pray pitches don’t. But when the industry works from home, where meetings are done via Zoom and relationships are strained because we’re all being socially distant, ad sales teams have to quickly reinvent their processes, if not their whole way of operating.

Read more: Here’s what media ad sales teams will need to grapple with in this “new normal.”

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Best of the Rest: Today’s Top News & Headlines

Rite Aid Unveils Brand Refresh and New Store Layout

For the first time in more than four decades, Rite Aid is rebranding. The drugstore chain revealed a new logo during an analyst call this week, as well as announcing a new strategy and store layout that it’s dubbed the “store of the future.”

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@JessZafarris Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.