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Ad Age Wake-Up Call: A PR Firm Gets Punished, While the Daily News Gets Sold

By Published on .

Good morning. Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: The New York Daily News, or "New York's Hometown Newspaper" as the slogan goes, has been sold – to Chicago-based publishing company Tronc. The deal means Tronc, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, now has a foothold in 10 U.S. media markets, including the top three markets, as Bloomberg News reports.

Journalists have been showering the 98-year-old Daily News with adjectives like "venerable," "storied" and "distinctive." The paper has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes. The Chicago Tribune calls Tronc's move to buy the paper from Mortimer B. Zuckerman "a stunning and bold bet on the future of newspapers."

And yet the Tribune also says Tronc paid just $1 for the tabloid, plus the assumption of liabilities. Is there any symbolism to be found in the fact that $1 is also the Daily News' cover price?

'Damning indictment'
British PR firm Bell Pottinger was founded in 1987 by a PR advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This week, it was thrown out of the UK's industry body, the Public Relations and Communications Association. The association says it "has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency's behavior." What happened? The industry group said a social campaign by Bell Pottinger, on behalf of a company called Oakbay Capital, was "likely to inflame racial discord in South Africa, and it appears to have done exactly that." Clients including luxury goods group Richemont and the South African bank Investec have dropped the PR company since the scandal broke, says the Financial Times, which put the expulsion on its front page Tuesday.

Consumer packaged goods, again
There are new rumblings of change or uncertainty coming from the consumer goods sector, where cutbacks in marketing spending by big companies have hurt advertising giants' revenues lately. Reckitt Benckiser Group, whose brands include Durex condoms and Lysol disinfectant, announced that four top execs were leaving, according to The Wall Street Journal. The execs were the heads of information technology, human resources, developing markets and category development.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal looks at how a former Procter & Gamble finance chief is trying to help win a board seat for activist investor Nelson Peltz, "who believes the maker of Tide and Pampers isn't moving fast enough to revive sales and profits." The Journal says Peltz's fund is soon to release a suggested blueprint for P&G going forward; it also will contain criticism about "the company's connection with millennials." (And since we're talking about millennials again, you might want to take another look at Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli's deep dive on why marketers are having a hard time with them.)

Just briefly:

Going client-side: Tony Weisman, the North American CEO of Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi, is moving to Dunkin' Donuts to be its new U.S. chief marketing officer, Ad Age's Lindsay Stein reports.

Cricket: Facebook just bid $600 million for a five-year deal to stream Indian cricket matches, as Recode says. It didn't win the bid, but the move raises the question of what big sports deals Facebook might chase next.

Google: China blocks the masses from accessing Google – you need special software to reach it. And yet Google is on a hiring push for artificial intelligence engineers there, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

They're with her: On Sunday, Hillary Clinton tweeted about a media platform called Verrit; it was promptly hacked, but it's back up now. The startup's founder talks to Business Insider about why it's stamping an "authentication code" on news and facts.

Imperfect pitch: Musical.ly, the lip-syncing app, has a lot of users in the U.S. Digiday says it's pitching some U.S. agencies ad products, but it's not getting much traction on that front.

Awwwwww: Zenith Senior VP-Strategy Evan Kory found a very creative, very elaborate way to propose to his girlfriend, involving outdoor ads and a lot of planning, as Ad Age's Megan Graham reports.

Campaign of the day: Toyota is taking emoji ad-targeting to the next level, as E.J. Schultz reports in Creativity Online. The car brand has 83 different videos to match your mood.

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