As coronavirus—the infection that causes the illness COVID-19—threatens to move from epidemic to pandemic, brands and event teams around the world are working to respond with appropriate precautions.
Since China reported initial cases of an unusual pneumonia to the World Health Organization in December, governments in nearly 70 countries globally have reported cases of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90,000 people have been infected with the virus and over 3,000 deaths worldwide have been reported, per the WHO.
We’ll keep a running list of how the epidemic is affecting the ad world, from event cancellations and precautions to brands’ travel restrictions.
Editor’s note: All times are E.T.
March 3, 2020
4:31 p.m.: The Dow fell nearly 800 points following emergency rate cut decision
Stocks rose after the Federal Reserve announced its decision to cut its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point in an effort to bolster the economy as Covid-19 fears disrupt the market. The decision was the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008, CNN reported.
However, after the initial points jump following the announcement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 800 points. The S&P 500, Nasdaq, Gold and 10-year Treasury indices ended the day’s session off more than 2.5%.
3:49 p.m.: Google cancels its I/O developer conference
Google I/O, the tech behemoth’s largest programmatic event of the year that was set to take place from May 12-14 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Ca., has been cancelled. I/O 2020’s estimated 7,000 attendees will be refunded in full by March 13 and, instead of having to enter next year’s drawing, they will automatically be granted the option to buy a ticket for next year’s conference. Google is currently “exploring other ways to evolve I/O to best connect with our developer community,” an email sent to attendees states.
3:43 p.m.: Growing coronavirus concerns force Andy Awards to go virtual
The International Andy Awards, hosted yearly by The Ad Club—a trade association for the advertising industry that honors global creative talent in the industry—will change the way jurors conduct their deliberations this year due to the growing coronavirus concerns related to travel. 2020’s cohort of jurors, which hail from 13 different cities around the world, will proceed with their judging duties remotely, and discussion and announcements will be made via a livestream during the event’s originally planned dates (March 15-20).
Per Gina Grillo, president and CEO of The Ad Club, the association feels like the Andys have an obligation to set an example as the first show of the season for “the other shows that may be facing this in the weeks and months to come.”
1:20 p.m.: “Full steam ahead” for NBCU’s Tokyo Olympics plans
At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference today Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said while NBC’s plans for the Tokyo Olympics are “full steam ahead” the company is seeing the effects of coronavirus on its theme parks in Osaka, Japan which have been closed for two weeks. “That’s probably going to mean about a 7 to 9% decline at the NBCUniversal level for the quarter,” Roberts said. The epidemic has impacted construction at a new Universal theme park in Beijing where 13,000 construction workers were off the job for several weeks. “We’re back working and I am pleased to be able to say today that our China team believes we will open the park on time despite the disruption that occurred,” Roberts said.
11:30 a.m.: Mashable drops out of South by Southwest
Mashable’s back-out from South by Southwest was announced in a tweet posted on the digital media company’s official social account. The decision to cancel the Mashable House and MashBash experiences were “a really tough call.”
11:28 a.m.: Salesforce prohibits all overseas travel for its employees
Salesforce’s chief legal officer Amy Weaver, published a blog post announcing the company’s decision to suspend non-essential travel for its 50,000-or-so global employees, prohibiting all international travel and restricting most domestic travel throughout March. Upcoming in-person events for the company this month, including World Tour Sydney in Australia, have been converted into virtual events. The company is also “enhancing office protocols to ensure the healthiest work environment possible,” CEO Marc Benioff tweeted.
10:45 a.m.: Intel joins Facebook and Twitter in backing out of South by Southwest
Intel announced early this morning that it is joining the fray of high-profile tech companies pulling out of on-site activities at South by Southwest, the 10-day multidisciplinary international festival in Austin, Texas running from March 13-22 this year. Though the Austin Public Health has stressed that no health departments in the state have raised concerns about canceling any gatherings in light of the outbreak, more than 35,000 people have signed a petition to cancel South by Southwest.
10:01 a.m.: Virgin Voyage’s to carry on with inaugural cruise after canceling press tour.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyage’s cruise line canceled its press tour Sunday but told Adweek that there are no plans to cancel the Scarlet Lady’s first cruise on March 26th.
- Public health expert warns virus not going away – KSAT San Antonio
- Tesla asks employees to resume production at Fremont car plant despite coronavirus health orders – CNBC
- Major health groups and charities urge Trump to reverse World Health Organization funding decision – CNN
- Public health officials push back on May opening | TheHill – The Hill
- Analysis | The Health 202: Los Angeles is racing to discover the true coronavirus infection rate – The Washington Post
- Some Public Health Officials Not Releasing Coronavirus Hospitalizations : Shots – Health News – NPR
- Covid-19 health-care crisis could drive new developments in robotics, editorial says – The Washington Post
- Lost Your Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Crisis? Here Are Your Options – The Motley Fool
- El Paso virus cases jump to 35 as health leaders warn of increased risk of ‘community spread’ – KVIA El Paso