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Ad Age Wake-Up Call: CEOs Face Hard Decisions About Trump, 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: CEOs and brand leaders are rethinking their messaging, and how close they want to get to the White House, in the post-Charlottesville Trump era. Wal-Mart's CEO Doug McMillon wrote to employees that Trump "missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists," CNN reports. But McMillon stayed on one of Trump's presidential advisory boards, while six others – including the CEOs of Merck, Under Armour and Intel – dropped out this week, amid all the critiicsm over Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. A non-profit called Color of Change is pressuring the CEOs of PepsiCo and Campbell Soup to depart, too.

Trump has poured gasoline on his feud with CEOs, as Politico notes. Business leaders who leave his committees are "grandstanders" who aren't taking their jobs seriously, Trump says. Also, it seems undeniable now: "CEO life has become politicized," says an expert quoted by Bloomberg News. Another point worth noting: If more business leaders are speaking out, that's partly because Trump's tweet attacks on corporations don't seem to pack the same punch as they did soon after the election, as The Wall Street Journal notes.
Handy Guide: Several publications have lists on which CEOs have stayed on Trump's advisory panels and which dropped out. The New York Times' is here and Recode's is here.

More on Charlottesville
Tech companies also have had big decisions to make after the violence in Charlottesville. What to do when white nationalists use your services? It seems a shift is is happening. Discord, a group chat app, banned several big alt-right communities, as The New York Times reports. WordPress booted Vanguard America, and Fast Company says that move was somewhat surprising since WordPress insisted just a few months ago that it would not censor, period. The Southern Poverty Law Center says far-right organizers used PayPal to raise money for the Charlottesville event; but a PayPal statement says the payment service "works to ensure its services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance."

Free falling
It's been a rough summer for TV, as Ad Age's Anthony Crupi reports. "The ratings free fall accelerated further in July as the exodus of younger viewers from traditional TV carried on with what's become to seem a sort of grim inevitability," he writes. According to Nielsen C3, broadcast ratings in July fell 17% from the comparable month in 2016. "Many execs fear that younger consumers who've hightailed it for the more immediate gratifications of digital media are unlikely to return to the cozy precincts of traditional TV," Crupi writes.

Nuh-uh
The co-founder of Netflix has a plan to let people watch a movie a day in theaters for a monthly subscription of $9.95. Mitch Lowe's startup is called MoviePass, and $9.95 is a lower price than it charged previously. But AMC, the world's largest theatre chain, is not buying it. The Los Angeles Times says AMC "criticized the service in a sharply worded news release with bold type proclaiming, 'Not welcome here.'" It also dissed MoviePass as a "small fringe player."

Just briefly:

Opioid crisis: The state of South Carolina is suing the maker of painkiller of OxyContin for what is says is deceptive marketing of opioids. The Wall Street Journal says the suit argues the company "plays down opioids' addictive nature." New Hampshire has filed a similar case.

Calling all poets: Creative agency Droga5 is launching a free crash course on the creative side of advertising that's "aimed at drawing in people who may not have otherwise landed in the industry," as Ad Age's Megan Graham reports. Sadly for the poets and struggling musicians who might apply, Droga says graduates should not expect a job.

Censored: A lot of things are banned in China, from Facebook to bizarre architecture to live streams of women eating bananas. (Seriously.) New on the list: company names that are too long and too weird, Sixth Tone reports.

Disneyland it ain't: Lionsgate is planning a theme park in South Korea, Variety reports. And yes, it will have a "Hunger Games" attraction.

Grindr: The gay dating app Grindr has a new digital magazine called "Into," and the first advertisers are Halo Top ice cream and FX, AdWeek says. The hookup app isn't always "brand-safe," which explains the move into publishing, as Digiday notes.

Number of the day: 6. The number of leaders who dropped out of Trump's manufacturing advisory committee post-Charlottesville.

Campaign of the day: There are baby horses in this ad from Dignity Health, spotted by Creativity Online's Alexandra Jardine. Baby horses. Enough said.

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