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Your Friday Wake-Up Call: Twitter Bans Ads From Kremlin-Backed Media. And an Ikea Ad Annoys Single Women

By Published on .

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: CNN's "This is an apple" ad has entered the zeitgeist – you can tell by all the trolling and parodies it's inspired. Ad Age's Simon Dumenco has compiled the spoofs here. (It's Friday, come on, you've got time to watch.) The original CNN ad reminds everyone that an apple is not a banana, even if someone shouts "banana, banana, banana." Because that's something that apparently needs to be said in these unusual times.

Ad ban
Twitter is banning ads from two Kremlin-backed news outlets, RT and Sputnik, because U.S. intelligence officials believe they tried to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election. RT has spent about $1.9 million in advertising on the platform since 2011, and Twitter has decided it doesn't want the money: It says it will donate the same sum to outside researchers studying Twitter's impact on elections, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports. RT shot back that Twitter in fact tried to convince it to spend big on advertising around last year's election. As proof, it offered up what it said was Twitter's pitch deck.

RT, which used to be called Russia Today, has a sizeable following on the internet. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that "RT's main English-language YouTube channel has amassed 2.1 billion views and 2.2 million subscribers, roughly the same figures as CNN's primary YouTube channel." So this issue is bigger than Twitter. You may never have heard of RT until now, but you're not done hearing about it.

Going dry
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority banned alcohol ads on the city's buses, subway cars and stations. But as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports, that didn't add up to a huge amount of spending last year: just $2.8 million. Alcohol ads are making gains in other areas, like on NFL broadcasts. And beer brands are making deals with universities: Schultz mentions that Corona has a deal with the Texas Longhorns that includes the unusual slogan, "Horns Up, Limes In!" (Maybe you've got to be a Longhorns fan to get that.)

All the single ladies
An ad for Ikea in China struck a nerve. The spot showed a mother nagging her adult daughter about being single. "Don't call me 'mom' anymore if you come back here without a boyfriend!" the mother says. Just then the boyfriend turns up, and the delighted parents set the table in no time with some fancy Ikea furnishings.

The spot, created by BBH China, was meant to be humorous, and likely sought to strike a chord with everyone who has nagging parents. But in a country where single women are branded as "leftover women," and where young people face intense pressure to get married, some viewers found the spot insensitive and complained on social media. Ikea pulled it. In a statement, Ikea said gender equality was a fundamental part of the brand, adding "we apologize for the concern caused by this TV advertisement and sincerely apologize for giving the wrong perception." This summer, a Chinese Audi ad caused a similar backlash; it showed a woman inspecting her daughter-in-law to see if she's up to snuff.

Just briefly:

McDonald's: McDonald's is launching a global media review. It is "seeking to work with a roster of preferred agencies rather than a single partner," Ad Age's Jessica Wohl and Lindsay Stein report. OMD, the company's longtime agency, will be part of the process.

Amazon effect: CVS Health Corp. is in talks to buy Aetna Inc. for over $66 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. Why? The Journal says there are expectations Amazon will get into the pharmacy business, and CVS is thinking ahead about the competition.

Click the 'like' button: Facebook spent "more than $8.4 million this year on its 36-member federal lobbying team—putting it on track to spend more on federal lobbying than in any previous year," The Wall Street Journal says. Facebook also has been testing its messaging on PR professionals and Washington insiders, the report says.

Reboot: Spotify plans to cancel original video series as it tries to "reboot" its strategy on video, Bloomberg News says.

Weinstein: As Harvey Weinstein tries to defend himself against harassment allegations, he's suing the Weinstein Co. to try to get access to his personnel file and his email account, Variety reports.

Headline of the day: From Axios, "Trump: 'Really great advertising' will keep kids off drugs".

GIF of the day: Anna Wintour ate bacon-wrapped pizza on "The Late Late Show With James Corden," and Ad Age has the GIF.

Creativity pick of the day: To advertise mobile betting game Slotomania, 73 FCB agencies around the world made 1,440 short films – a film for every minute of the day. Read more by Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine, and watch it here.

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