Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for “Ad Age” under “Skills” in the Alexa app.
What people are talking about today
Samsung finally unveiled its new new phone/tablet with a foldable screen, the Galaxy Fold. It starts at $1,980. So how do you market a gadget that runs the risk of looking like a very expensive gimmick? Samsung released a video that shows the phone dancing and whirling in outer space. The soundtrack is Willy Wonka’s trippy anthem “Pure Imagination,” sung by Joanna Wang. The tagline: “We didn’t just change the shape of the phone. We changed the shape of tomorrow.” It’s far-out.
Anyway, for the frugal, there’s always the other kind of foldable phone, the flip phone. You can buy one for around $15.
Here we go again
Disney, Nestlé and Epic Games have reportedly paused advertising on YouTube after a vlogger discovered what he called “a wormhole into a soft-core pedophilia ring on YouTube.” The vlogger, Matt Watson, documented how the comments sections of videos posted by young girls are filled with advice on which specific moments to watch for revealing glimpses of their bodies. And he showed how those videos seem to appear on your screen, even if you’re not looking for them. Bloomberg News reports that Disney, Nestle’s U.S. companies and Epic Games have all pulled their advertising from the Google-owned video platform. A YouTube spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the company took “immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments.” But this kind of thing keeps happening, with advertisers complaining about harmful content, then going back to the platform eventually. Is this endless cycle of outrage and forgiveness actually accomplishing anything?
ABC has sold out of ad inventory for Sunday’s Academy Awards. “Despite the absence of a host and a slate of Best Picture nominees that includes a made-for-TV movie, advertisers don’t seem to have been particularly anxious about investing in this year’s Academy Awards broadcast,” write Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi and Jeanine Poggi. We’ll be seeing ads for Budweiser, Cadillac, Google, Hennessy, IBM, McDonald’s, Rolex, Samsung, Verizon and Walmart. Prices for a 30-second commercial are about the same as last year, at $2.1 million to $2.2 million. Which is less than half the price of a half-minute Super Bowl ad, which goes for around $5 million.
Also: After Kevin Hart dropped out as host, “conspiracy theorists think Whoopi Goldberg might be hosting the Oscars,” Vanity Fair writes. But ABC says that’s totally false.
Yesterday was the first day of bargaining between the SAG-AFTRA union and the ad industry for a new contract on commercials, Deadline reports. We don’t know much at this point; Variety says both sides have agreed on a news blackout until talks in New York wrap up. Meanwhile, the union for screen talent has been running print ads in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Variety and Ad Age. “When you make an ad, make it union,” say the ads, which list prominent actors supporting the push, including Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Julie Andrews, Tina Fey, Morgan Freeman and Rami Malek. The union singles out agency BBH; for months, the union has been protestingBBH’s decision to withdraw from the contract after two decades.
Brazen: “A company that claims to combat app piracy is a pirate itself, according to a report Oracle released on Wednesday,” Ad Age’s Garett Sloane writes. “Oracle claims the company, Tapcore, has been perpetrating a massive ad fraud on Android devices by infecting apps with software that ring up fake ad impressions and drain people’s data.”
Huh: Pinterest is no longer showing people results when they search for information about vaccinations. The Wall Street Journal calls it “a drastic step the social-media company said is aimed at curbing the spread of misinformation but one that demonstrates the power of tech companies to censor discussion of hot-button issues.”
Today in media news: President Trump tweeted that The New York Times is “a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.” Ad Age’s Simon Dumencoexplains what he’s mad about this time. (It probably involves this story: “Inside Trump’s Angry War On Inquiries Around Him.”) New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger responded: “The phrase ‘enemy of the people’ is not just false, it’s dangerous. It has an ugly history of being wielded by dictators and tyrants who sought to control public information.”
Quote of the day: “We know what our niche is. We’re not TV without pictures. We’re companionship,” says Bob Pittman, CEO of radio giant iHeartMedia. Listen to more of his conversation with Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker in this week’s Ad Lib podcast.
Ad of the day: Some consumers seem confused that Marriott’s rewards program has been renamed Bonvoy, as Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. Helpfully, Marriott just launched a campaign to educate people about the new branding. The ads were filmed by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. What? You can’t imagine the man who made the quirky French classic “Amélie” making commercials for an multinational hotel chain? Mais oui. Have a look.