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Your Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Facebook's Cringeworthy Puerto Rico Promo. Plus, Google's Russian Ads Problem

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: What made Mark Zuckerberg think it was a good idea to send his cartoon avatar on a tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, while his real self stayed comfortably back at the Facebook office in California? The company was highlighting a partnership with NetHope and American Red Cross "to restore connectivity and rebuild communities," which is certainly a worthy cause. But the VR stunt seemed tone-deaf to some viewers. The Guardian called it "part disaster tourism, part product promotion." Zuckerberg was accompanied by Facebook's head of social virtual reality, Rachel Franklin. At one point, against a backdrop of homes on a flooded street, her cartoon persona quips: "It's crazy to feel like you're in the middle of it ... Yup."

Judge for yourself:

Chelsea Clinton had this to say about the video:

Soon after "touring" Puerto Rico, Zuckerberg and Franklin did another video. They teleported into outer space.

Russian operatives
Like Facebook and Twitter, Google has "uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company's platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election," The Washington Post reports. Google, the biggest global recipient of online advertising dollars, told the Post just last month that it had seen no evidence of this type of campaign. Since the whole election interference scandal is quite complex, Ad Age's Garett Sloane has a guide on what we know so far (and what we don't know.)

Also: The Kremlin recruited two YouTube rappers to bash Hillary Clinton, The Daily Beast says. One video, posted before the 2016 election, called her an "old racist bitch." The Beast says the content was pulled in August.

P&G's decision
Procter & Gamble, the world's biggest ad spender, is entrenched in the world's most expensive proxy fight. The outcome will be decided today, as shareholders vote on whether activist investor Nelson Peltz should have a seat on the board. Ad Age's Jack Neff writes, "For all the fuss, there is actually not as much at stake as you might think." Because even if Peltz wins, "he won't have the votes to change things on a board he's lambasted for overseeing years of stagnation or declining market shares," Neff says. Both sides have spent massive piles of cash in the fight: P&G has estimated its sum at $35 million, while Peltz' Trian Partners puts its own spending at $25 million. Trian even ran ads on NFL broadcasts Sunday in Cincinnati, where P&G is headquartered.

Backlash
ESPN "SportsCenter" co-anchor Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks after tweeting a call to boycott brands that support the Dallas Cowboys. Her tweets were a response to the team's owner, who said players had to stand for the national anthem or get off the field. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi notes, many of the Cowboys' sponsors also buy a lot of inventory from ESPN: "ESPN simply does too much business with these brands to allow one of its on-air representatives to suggest that fans should act against the interests of said brands."

Just briefly:

WPP and the NRA: Since 2007, WPP companies have collected $1.46 million in lobbying fees from the National Rifle Association, The Guardian reports. And meanwhile, the report says, "WPP sought to portray itself as being opposed to gun violence."

Tarnished: The Weinstein Co. is considering a name change after co-founder Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment scandal, and it is working with two agencies to find a new brand identity, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Hollywood Reporter says the new name is expected within 48 hours.

French touch: Paris agency BETC has opened in Los Angeles, as Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz reports. In an unusual move, it's launching a new dance workout product (in which it has a stake), along with noted French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied.

McSpicy: McDonald's ordered one of its former partners in India to stop using its brand name. But now the former partner, which ran about 150 restaurants, has gone "rogue" and is not letting go of McDonald's name or recipes, The Wall Street Journal says.

'Thor': That's the name of an initiative by broadcast and cable TV execs to "discuss developing a shared model to show how well advertisers' commercials worked," as Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes. They're banding together to counter the rise of digital media ads.

Ad of the day: ICYM, this Astral Tequila spot for Columbus Day "misses the mark worse than Columbus himself," as Ad Age's Simon Dumenco writes. And that's why it's worth watching. The spot stars Jonathan Goldsmith, the former Most Interesting Man in the World, as a guy trying to pick up ladies in a bar. There's a lot of controversy over Columbus Day, which dozens of cities marked instead as "Indigenous People's Day." Dumenco's take on the ad: "Here we have an attempt to milk the Columbus story for a quick chuckle. Hey, Columbus' arrival in North America was like an unplanned bar hookup! LOL?"

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