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Ad Age Wake-Up Call: A Firing at Google and Other News to Know Today

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Good morning. Welcome to Ad Age's Wake Up Call, our new daily roundup of advertising, marketing, and digital-related news. The news everybody is talking about today: Google has fired an engineer who wrote a 3,000-word manifesto against the company's diversity policies, the New York Times reports. Among his claims: Women are underrepresented in tech partly because they're more neurotic than men.

The engineer told The Times he will probably pursue legal action after being fired. Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai is breaking off his vacation to deal with the uproar. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg weighed in: "Inequality in tech isn't due to gender differences. It's due to cultural stereotypes that persist." Her co-author, Wharton professor Adam Grant, phrased it differently. "There are only a handful of areas with large sex differences: men are physically stronger and more physically aggressive, masturbate more, and are more positive on casual sex. So you can make a case for having more men than women… if you're fielding a sports team or collecting semen."

'No boys allowed'
The ad industry has its own problems with gender representation. Which means it's newsworthy that Portland independent digital agency The Program has an all-women brand team leading its global Nike account. The agency's founder and VP-strategy told Ad Age's Lindsay Stein that "it just happened – it was very organic. We try to find the most talented and smartest people who make the most sense [for each brand] and now we have this team at the helm of our largest relationship." When the founder (a guy) walked into a team meeting recently, the women told him "no boys were allowed." That was a joke, of course. Or was it?

Amazon's little secret
Amazon is getting ever trickier in its quest for world domination: It owns a small trove of "secret" brands that it's selling without its own name on them, according to a detailed report by Quartz. That means if you go online and buy Arabella-brand lingerie, Happy Belly fresh food or Mama Bear baby products, you're actually buying Amazon products. Quartz found 19 brands that fit the bill, across a wide range of categories. What's then deal? Quartz says Amazon might want to "give the impression to customers that there are tons of options to choose from, when in fact, they're really just choosing between different Amazon brands."

Fakeout
Marketing agency Mediakix did a little experiment: It set up two fake Instagram influencer accounts and populated them with photos of blondes, beaches and cute stock travel photos. As Highsnobiety recounts, "Mediakix found they could buy up to 15,000 (followers) per pop without being suspected of wrongdoing. And the cost per 1,000 followers? Between $3-$8." The agency says it's a "form of ad fraud that's becoming more and more commonplace and could be siphoning tens of millions of dollars from brands."

Just briefly:

Netflix made its first purchase. It's buying Millarworld, a comic book publisher, for an undisclosed price.

The latest in baseball sponsorship: Branded rain delays. Branded tarps to keep the field dry are a new revenue stream for the sport, as Ad Age's Will Jarvis reports (added bonus: fun photos.)

You're going to see a lot more of #ShotOnIphone. Apple at last has an Instagram account. As Creativity Online's Alexandra Jardine reports, "Instagram users can tag photos with the hashtag #ShotOnIphone to have them considered for curation" on Apple's own account. That's a pretty obvious way to scatter a brand slogan all across Instagram.

McDonald's $4,000 Szechuan sauce. "As of Monday at noon, bidding had reached $4,050" for a jug of McDonald's Szechuan sauce being auctioned on eBay, Business Insider reports. (Ad Age took a look at the sauce phenomenon last week.)

Bra size discounts: A restaurant in China is getting flak for a super-sleazy promotion aimed at women, according to the BBC: The bigger the bra size, the bigger the discount.

Campaign of the day: There's now a dishwasher-themed water park in New York, courtesy of LG.

Number of the day: 3 billion. The number of people using social media globally crossed the 3 billion mark, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite. Another number to throw around: The report also says there were 1 million new users per day over the past quarter.