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Marketer's Brief: Marcel Has a Fan at Walmart

Published on .

Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to eschultz@adage.com.

Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun's decision to forgo Cannes and other industry events for a year to focus on developing the Marcel artificial-intelligence platform drew plenty of criticism across the ad industry. But the nation's largest retailer is a big fan of the controversial move. Walmart is an every-day-low-cost operation, said U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Tony Rogers. "So I never go to Cannes," he said. "I'm always going to be for putting that money toward the customer and toward the business." Marcel could help on Department W, which marshals work from 14 Publicis shops plus outside agencies for Walmart. Rogers also was happy to hear that Interpublic's R/GA won a media Grand Prix for subsidiary Jet.com's Super Bowl online counter-programming. Despite the concentration of most Walmart business with Publicis agencies, Rogers said R/GA remains "a valued member of the team."

Pepsi is seeing red

Mountain Dew Code Red.
Mountain Dew Code Red.

The cola wars have always been a battle of red (Coke) versus blue (Pepsi). But in Utah, Pepsi is is about to blur the color divide. Salt Lake City's KSL.com reports that PepsiCo will make significant branding changes at the University of Utah as it takes over from Coca Cola as the official beverage provider for the university -- all because blue is the color of in-state rival BYU, while Utah owns red. All signage, including on vending machines and coolers, will feature Pepsi's logo absent its normal blue background, KSL reported. The university will also include a greater mix of PepsiCo's red products, like Code Red Mountain Dew, according to the report.

Unilever invests in AI startup after trying it

After Unilever tried MachineVantage for a year on several brands, its Unilever Ventures arm is investing in the company, which uses A.I. and machine learning to guide marketing and product innovation. MachineVantage was opened last year by A.K. Pradeep, who founded the neuromarketing firm NeuroFocus in 2005 and sold it to Nielsen in 2011. His new effort has won investment backing from Nielsen competitor IRI.

Dannon says au revoir to Stonyfield

Fresh after the debuts of Oui by Yoplait from General Mills and Chobani Smooth, a non-Greek style yogurt from leading brand Chobani, comes the latest shakeup in the yogurt category. Danone on Monday said it plans to sell its Stonyfield brand to fellow French company Lactalis for $875 million. Selling Stonyfield, an organic brand that generated about $370 million in sales last year, was necessary for Danone to get the U.S. Department of Justice's nod on its acquisition of WhiteWave. Meanwhile, Stonyfield recently hired GYK Antler as its first creative agency of record. GYK Antler had previously been one of a number of agencies working on Stonyfield on a project basis. Stonyfield was the 6th largest yogurt brand in the U.S. last year, according to data from Euromonitor International. The sale of Stonyfield should close sometime in the third quarter of the year.

Number You Need to Know

$9.05 -- Blue Apron's stock price as of Wednesday morning, below its $10 debut last week and less than the cost of one serving in its meal kits.

Would You Buy This?

WaffleWaffle's products.
WaffleWaffle's products. Credit: Barker for WaffleWaffle

Who needs bread when you could use waffles? WaffleWaffle is promoting three egg, cheese and meat frozen breakfast sandwiches and a frozen breakfast bowl with updated packaging and a digital campaign from Barker.

Tweet of the Week

DDB North America President-CEO Wendy Clark took on Kotex's holiday tweet.

Moves

StubHub has named Olivier Ropars as its VP and CMO. He comes from eBay where he was head of global performance marketing.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl

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