Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: The award for copywriter of the week goes to … a guy from Houston who needed to sell his '99 Toyota Corolla. Jason Hlavenka is not an adman (actually, he's a software designer), but he clearly has a gift. His hilarious and profane Craigslist ad is a "copywriting masterclass on how to make something desirable with just brutal, brutal honesty," as Fast Company writes. Yes, there have been other funny viral ads for used cars, but it's Friday, and frankly, this one is really good. Here's a much-too-brief excerpt from Hlavenka's ad for his elderly, gray 1999 Corolla:
This car will outlive you, it will outlive your children.
Things this car is old enough to do:
Consent to sex: yes
Rent a car: it IS a car
This car's got history. It's seen some shit. People have done straight things in this car. People have done gay things in this car. It's not going to judge you like a f***king Volkswagen would.
But really, you should read the whole thing here. As Jalopnik reports, the car sold already, for $1,700 -- not because of Hlavenka's Craigslist copywriting verve, sadly, but through the "for sale" sign he stuck on the car.
Amazon's ad business hit about $2 billion in revenues in the first quarter, and Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, calls advertising "a strong contributor to profitability." In the first quarter, the Amazon business category that consists primarily of ads generated $2.03 billion, up a whopping 139 percent from the same quarter a year earlier. Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes that the company boosted outreach to Madison Avenue, cut deals with holding companies and agencies, and is "making a strategic shift into programmatic advertising that is paying off." Apparently.
Also: The price of Amazon's Prime service in the U.S. is going up about 20 percent, to $119 a year. (Which is not quite the sexy number $99 was. Just saying.)
NBC News, Matt Lauer and … Tom Brokaw?
A new Washington Post report casts an unflattering light on NBC News. First, it quotes former "Today" host Ann Curry as saying she notified two members of management back in 2012 after a staffer told her that Matt Lauer sexually harassed her. NBC told the Post it has no record of the warning, which happened five years before Lauer was fired. But the most surprising nugget, buried in the story, is this: Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent, says venerated anchor Tom Brokaw made unwanted advances against her twice in the 1990s, though she didn't report them. A second, unidentified woman also said Brokaw acted "inappropriately" toward her; Brokaw told The Post that nothing untoward happened in either case. The Post writes:
NBC acted quickly to dismiss Lauer, but it is facing a wave of internal and outside skepticism that it can reform a workplace in which powerful men such as Lauer were known to pursue sexual relationships with more junior women.
Meanwhile, it's been five months since Lauer's dismissal, and the company hasn't released any details about its internal investigation, though the network told The Post it will wrap up soon.
Also: Vester told her story to Variety too.
London's D&AD Awards bestowed its highest honor, the Black Pencil, to Tide's Super Bowl campaign "It's a Tide Ad" and State Street Advisors' "Fearless Girl." Which is not that surprising. But a third Black Pencil went to a lesser-known campaign from the tiny Pacific nation of Palau, a scattering of islands with a population of just 20,000. The islands have many more visitors annually than residents, and the environmental impact of tourism is a big worry. As Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes, the campaign from agency Host/Havas "required visitors to Palau to sign a passport pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island." So the campaign actually became part of the country's immigration policy. Watch the case study video on that here, and read more here from Jardine about D&AD winners.
Not just for breakfast anymore: Starbucks is making a marketing push to encourage afternoon visits, writes Ad Age's Jessica Wohl.
Creators League: PepsiCo has been "reaching out to external partners about taking some oversight, or even investing in" its in-house content studio, the Creators League, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes.
Subway: Subway plans to close 500 of its 26,000 U.S. locations this year. "It's just not what people want anymore," a retail consultant tells The Washington Post.
Joy Reid: The Daily Beast has suspended columns by MSNBC host Joy Reid amid questions over whether she wrote anti-gay comments on her blog years ago, a CNN journalist posted on Twitter. Reid says she didn't write them, but "the anchor's claim that her blog was hacked to include homophobic posts looks implausible," The Atlantic writes.
Football: The NFL is re-upping Amazon to live-stream "Thursday Night Football" for the next two seasons, Anthony Crupi writes in Ad Age.
Why?: Snapchat released its second generation of Spectacles, though the first version wasn't a hit. The Verge writes: "Given Snap's struggles in hardware, it's fair to ask why the company is trying again. The reason is that hardware has the potential to be a much better business for Snap than software does."
Quote of the day: "To all young girls out there who aspire to take up sports. Make no mistake: you need strong arms, not smooth arms, on a sports field," Sana Mir, the former captain of the Pakistan women's cricket team, wrote in a viral Facebook post criticizing an ad for Veet hair remover. The spot showed an actress getting praise for her smooth arms while playing basketball in high heels. Read more on NPR.
Creativity pick of the day: AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign warns people of the dangers of texting while driving. The latest ads in the powerful series used a forensic artist and visual effects from The Mill to imagine how two young men might look today if they hadn't been killed. As Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz writes, "the families involved worked with AT&T and team for nearly 6 months on the production." Watch the ads from BBDO New York, directed by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris here. And don't skip the short documentaries interviewing the families of the victims -- their stories about living with loss may actually be the most powerful deterrent to texting while driving.