Lessons From Cannabis’ Lockdown Boom; Pandora’s Audio Experiences: Wednesday’s First Things First

Plus, stars read Harry Potter chapters for homebound listeners

Pandora's new campaign focuses on how an audio experience can transform a space. - Credit by Pandora
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.

5 Ways Quarantine Has Changed the Cannabis Industry Forever

The cannabis market has seen an unprecedented green rush, with record-breaking sales since lockdowns went into force in March. This growth may provide a few key predictions into what the future of retail weed might look like.

For instance, drive-thru, pickup and delivery might be here to stay, with online marketplace Jane Technologies reporting massive boosts for online orders and some companies switching exclusively to delivery. Massive year-over-year 4/20 sales increases from some retailers, especially in California, suggest that cannabis has become a cultural staple. Meanwhile, edibles and THC-infused beverages are seeing a great deal of growth as consumers seek out alternatives to smoking.

Read more: Although previously dominated by top-tier luxury brands, the market is likely to give way to more mid-tier and lower price-point products.

Ad Tech Is Undergoing an Identity Crisis That’s Been Worsened by the Pandemic

Covid-19 has prompted a mass contraction in ad spend. The resulting mass furloughs and layoffs have put independent ad-tech players at risk. The devastation in the media sector has led some to appeal for Google to push back its plans to kill the cookie, though it doesn’t seem likely. Adweek talked with ad-tech experts who made two predictions:

  • Expect the crisis to prompt innovation among independent players.
  • Legacy publishers are likely to continue to side with indie ad tech through initiatives like Prebid and launch their own offerings.

Read more: Expect more first-party data owners to take measures to negate their earlier reliance on a walled-garden providers.

Pandora’s New Campaign Responds to a Surge in Smart Home Device Listening

Pandora is responding to an uptick in listeners who are using at-home devices by rolling out a new campaign, “Discover Your Great Indoors,” which invites listeners to transform rooms of their homes with audio experiences. Adweek talked with Pandora’s Lizzie Widhelm, who said she has been advising advertisers to develop creative that accounts for co-listening and other at-home behaviors.

Read more: Widhelm anticipates that this usage trend could continue, fueling new advertising opportunities for the company and the devices.

More Creative Campaigns Aimed at Homebound Consumers:

ViacomCBS Sets Revised Upfront Plan, With Virtual Presentations Over 2 Days

We now have some clarity over how some of this year’s rescheduled upfront action will proceed. ViacomCBS is now hosting its upfront event over the course of two days, May 18 and 19. The first day of the ViacomCBS Upfont @Home presentation will focus on the company’s combined assets and solutions. During the event’s second day, ViacomCBS will unveil CBS’ fall programming lineup, and spotlight programming from CBS All Access, CBS Sports and CBS News.

Read more: Get the full scoop on what buyers will get a look at during the presentation.

Related: WarnerMedia Prepares For Joint, ‘Flexible’ Upfront Marketplace Alongside Xandr

WarnerMedia is taking a different route than ViacomCBS, as it will not host a virtual presentation. While WarnerMedia and Xandr are technically two separate companies, they’ll work together to handle all advertising business—both upfront and scatter.

Read more: WarnerMedia and Xandr explain the adjustments they’re making to service media buyers.

Soda Brands Are Moving Into the Niche Energy Drink Category

As the energy drink market continues to grow—U.S. sales increased to $14.2 billion in 2019 from $10.1 billion in 2014, per Euromonitor—beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are making moves into the category. These moves could transform the energy drinks sector from one that targets young men doing intense sports into something more broadly marketed to all.

Read more: These companies may be able to subvert some challenges that other energy drink brands have encountered, including taste preferences associated with brands like Monster and Red Bull.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Harry Potter and the Lockdown at Home: Spotify Brings the Wizarding World to Listeners

As part of a program called Harry Potter at Home, Daniel Radcliffe and other actors including Stephen Fry, Dakota Fanning, David Beckham, Noma Dumezweni and Eddie Redmayne will read chapters from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Book chapters will be released weekly through the end of June via Spotify and the program’s site.

Celebrating Employee Successes in a Remote Work Environment

David Krupp, CEO, Americas, Billups

“We have adopted the mantra that ‘saves are wins’ during Covid-19, so we communicate and celebrate when we retain business, sharing what measures were taken, and providing guidance for others who are facing a similar challenge.”

Jillian Pap, Director of People Experience (PX), Goodway Group

“Once a month, we host a podcast with our president, Jay Friedman, and a co-host from a team who has done compelling, and innovative work. This is a chance for our teams to go into detail about not only what they accomplished but how. We celebrate the result as well as the thought process that brought us to the finish line.”

Genevieve Robles, Director, Talent Experience, Forsman & Bodenfors New York

“Share them! We send all agency emails to recognize wins and we announce them during our video calls. During smaller team meetings, we talk about our wins from the week – both personal and work-related.”

More of the Latest


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