President Biden moves to undo the Trump era, and brands welcome change: Thursday Wake-Up Call

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.

Can I take your order?

Joe Biden was sworn in yesterday in as the 46th president of the United States and, in his inaugural speech, he referenced Langston Hughes and called for unity. But, in his first day, he set about undoing many of the previous administration’s actions.

He signed executive orders rejoining the Paris climate accord, requiring masks on federal property, blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline, prohibiting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, halting construction of the border wall and extending bans on evictions, foreclosures and interest on student loans.

President Biden also rescinded Trump’s travel ban that targeted mostly Muslim-majority and African countries, and halted the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization, marking the country’s re-entry into the community of nations, a sharp break with the rhetoric of the past four years.

Brand new start

Several brands, many of which had already been speaking out against the riots at the Capitol two weeks ago, weighed in on the transition. “Brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Bumble took to social media to share their celebratory reactions to the inauguration, even as others remain silent or have paused campaigns until after the inauguration,” writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing.

Patagonia thanked Biden for his action on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Audi applauded climate action with an ad for one of its electric cars, and iHeartRadio and Bumble celebrated Vice-President Kamala Harris’ historic ascension to national office.

Many brands had hot takes on other events of the day, including praise for 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who read a powerful poem that will serve as an inspiring call to action. But the most-memed person in attendance was, of course, Bernie Sanders, whose mittens became a fashion statement before he was quickly Photoshopped into hundreds of images, from album covers to historic photographs.

Contract killer

Biden also ended the 1776 Commission, a reactionary movement opposed to racial reconciliation, and overturned Trump’s executive order banning diversity and inclusion training at federal contractors.

That means advertising agencies that work with the government can finally resume those trainings, many of which had only been implemented following demands for racial justice last summer. Agencies had been caught between dropping their DE&I trainings and dropping their federal contracts, untenable options in either case.

On top of that, Biden barred federal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and new orders take aim at systemic racism in federal agencies and the distribution of government services.

Meanwhile, stocks hit record highs after Biden’s inauguration, despite dire warnings from the previous administration that the market would crash if Democrats took over. The Dow closed up more than 0.8% to 31,188, Bloomberg reports. The NASDAQ jumped nearly 2% and the S&P 500 gained more than 1.3%.

Livestream of the day

Anti-Asian racism has been on the rise since the spread of baseless conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Ad Age’s virtual town hall starts at 11 a.m. EST and will focus on challenges facing the Asian and Asian American community in the ad industry—including barriers to hiring and promotion, outreach, representation and discrimination.

Panelists include WarnerMedia’s Katie Soo, Nielsen’s Mariko Carpenter, TikTok’s Global Head of Marketing Nick Tran and Google’s VP of Marketing Marvin Chow, who will each be answering viewer questions. Join the event here.

Just briefly

Job codes: It’s a job posting that sounds inspired by “Ready Player One” (or “The Last Starfighter”). Hidden code on the White House site said, “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” an invitation to those who found it to join the U.S. Digital Service, Reuters reports, a tech department founded during the Obama administration.

Worth a shot: Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, is offering the vast resources of the retail giant to help the Biden administration deliver and administer coronavirus vaccines, according to CNBC. Of course, the company has also been pushing to have its workers included among those eligible for early access to the vaccines.

A.M.erica: As Biden swore the oath of office, The Lincoln Project released its first video of the new administration. Like Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign spot of the same name, “Morning in America” lays out a hopeful vision amid turmoil, in juxtaposition to the group’s attack against the Trump campaign in the early days of the pandemic, “Mourning in America.”

That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading, and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage. 

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