Monday Wake-Up Call: The NRA Slams Brands' Boycott Movement as 'Shameful,' and Other News

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Credit: iStock/Michal Oska

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today
The 2018 Winter Olympics are officially over, after a closing ceremony that included K-pop sensations EXO, skating pandas and the reappearance of the famous shirtless, oiled-up Tongan flag-bearer. Also, according to Time.com, "the internet is freaking out" over a human-faced bird puppet that danced to EDM at the show in PyeongChang Stadium. Comcast-owned NBC is set to announce final Olympics viewership numbers on Monday, after steep declines in Nielsen ratings during the event's final days, Variety says. And the New York Post says that "despite ugly forecasts, NBC is touting the health of its current advertising revenue. NBC execs expect the final tally to reach $940 million, a record that's up from about $800 million four years ago."
Also: Russian military spies were behind the cyberattack that hit the Olympics' opening ceremony, The Washington Post reports, quoting unnamed U.S. officials. The hackers reportedly tried to make the attack look like the work of North Korea.

'A shameful display of political and civic cowardice'
After the assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people, brands including Delta, United, Hertz, Enterprise and Symantec ended discount programs for NRA members, as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz and Adrianne Pasquarelli report. Over the weekend, the NRA struck back. In a statement, the NRA called their decisions "a shameful display of political and civic cowardice" that punishes "members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community." And it added that "the loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world."

There's still social media pressure on other companies to sever relationships with the NRA. And as of this weekend, The Washington Post says, "none of the video-streaming giants, Apple, Google's YouTube, or Amazon … have acknowledged a petition and viral demands to take NRA videos offline."
Also: Emma Gonzalez, the Stoneman Douglas student whose impassioned plea for gun violence prevention went viral, now has more Twitter followers than the NRA, as People reports.

A new 'Idol'
As Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes, Macy's and Zyrtec (yes, the allergy medication) are major sponsors of ABC's reboot of "American Idol," where the singing contest's narrative will be refocused to "highlight the contestants' journey." In its new form, the show is apparently looking for a more heartwarming formula, and it's doing away with "bash sessions for embarrassing auditions," as Poggi writes. At least one former contestant, Danny Gokey, is on the record as saying he thinks that's a mistake, because funny auditions hook viewers in, as he told Variety. On the other hand, maybe a more earnest and heartwarming approach is just what the world needs right now, in our era of peak social media snarkiness?

Just briefly:
The Weinstein Co.: The film studio co-founded by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, says it will file for bankruptcy protection after talks on a potential sale collapsed, The Los Angeles Times reports. WPP Group has for years had an equity stake in the studio.

ICYM: Droga5 has laid off about 5 percent of its staff in New York, or about 40 people, Ad Age's Lindsay Stein reports.

Number of the day: "Black Panther" has crossed the $700 million mark globally, though it has yet to debut in China and Japan, The New York Times reports.

RIP: Sridevi Kapoor, "Bollywood's First Female Superstar," as The New York Times calls her, has died at age 54. While she was beloved for her contribution to Indian cinema, she also appeared in ads for everything from hair oil to jewelry to detergent to masala, as our colleague Collin Furtado at Ad Age India reports. Here she is in a retro haircare ad; and below she appears in a spot from just a few years back, for Indian jeweler Tanishq.

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