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Ad Age Wake-Up Call: Netflix Signs Shonda Rhimes and Other News to Know Today

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: TV producer Shonda Rhimes is heading to Netflix after a 15-year streak of hit-making at ABC Studios, The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall), calling the move "the clearest sign yet of an arms race for talent between new and old entertainment industry giants." The "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" producer will start working on new Netflix shows while staying involved in her existing ABC Studios series, Variety says. It's another sign competition is ramping up between between Walt Disney Co. (which owns ABC) and Netflix. Less than a week ago, Disney said it would stop giving Netflix access to its new films as it builds its own streaming services.

Tiki Torches
White supremacists brandished tiki torches Friday in Charlottesville, Va. as part of the "Unite the Right" rally. Afterward, the maker of those torches wanted to clarify its stance: "TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed," the brand said on Twitter, as recounted by Ad Age's E.J. Schultz. "We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way." On a side note, tiki torches were a bizarre symbol for white supremacists, since they have "roots in Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures," as CNN points out. Meanwhile, Twitter users have been crowdsourcing the identity of white supremacists who marched; one of them was fired from his job at a California restaurant chain called Top Dog, NBC reports.

Facebook's Little Secret
China's government blocks internet users on the mainland from accessing Facebook. So the Silicon Valley giant tried a sneaky move: It released a secret app for China that "shares the look, function and feel of Facebook's Moments app," The New York Times reports. The app is called "Colorful Balloons" and does not bear the Facebook name. The app apparently isn't having much success in China, as Quartz reports. It's been rough going in China for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who has apparently tried everything to get authorities there to warm to him. Like learning Mandarin.

Just Briefly:

Flying High: Travelers on Virgin America's domestic routes have been seeing commercials for Wikileaf, a price-comparison app for the legal cannabis market, as Ad Age's Will Jarvis reports. The ad is a curious mix of product plug and PSA, since it's reminding people not to pack their weed when they fly.

Bai Bai Bai: You may recall beverage marketer Bai Brands' sophomorically funny Super Bowl spot starring Christopher Walken, Justin Timberlake and the lyrics of boy band 'NSync. ("If I sound crazy, it ain't no lie baby. Bye, bye, bye.") The New York Times checks in with Bai to find out how the brand is growing up.

Bots 1, Humans O: Artificial intelligence from an Elon Musk-backed startup just beat professional e-sports players. The Verge says the bot "could be the best new player in the world."

Buyer Beware: Amazon is refunding some people who bought possibly fake sunglasses for the solar eclipse, CNN Money reports.

Number of the Day: $2 billion. That's how much producer Shonda Rhimes's shows for ABC Studios have generated in revenue from ads, rerun sales and international licensing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Another number of the day: $10 million. Variety says that was Rhimes' estimated annual earnings under her deal with ABC Studios.

Campaign of the Day: For anybody in need of some sunshine today: Facebook Live is bringing together five versions of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" from different museums. The works have never been shown together in one place, as Creativity Online's Alexandra Jardine reports. The experience happens at 12:50 p.m. E.T. Monday, and you can watch it here.

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