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Thursday Wake-Up Call: CNN's Moving Parkland Town Hall, KFC Still Chicken-less and More

By Published on .

Fred Guttenberg
Fred Guttenberg Credit: CNN

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

CNN's Florida shooting town hall was important viewing Wednesday night, as students, teachers and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, expressed their fear and outrage over weak gun-control measures. Many verbally attacked Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who attended, as well as the NRA.

As The New York Times reports, Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed during the shooting that left 17 dead, was applauded by the crowd as he demanded that the Florida senator explain his opposition to legislation banning assault weapons like that used by the gunman. Rubio, meanwhile, was booed when he said that "gun laws alone" can not help prevent such shootings, the Times says.

YouTube Removes David Hogg Video

Meanwhile, YouTube admitted it mistakenly promoted a video on the Florida shooting that labeled Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg an "actor." As Ad Age's Garrett Sloane reported, the "David Hogg the actor" video, which used a local California CBS news report from six months ago that featured a story unrelated to the Florida shooting, was the No. 1 trending video on YouTube for a time on Wednesday. YouTube also autosuggested certain search terms that would lead people directly to the clip. Sloane reports that it and "many other [videos] claim to 'expose' Hogg as a 'crisis actor,' the term conspiracy theorists use to discount firsthand accounts by people in news stories that they insist are hoaxes. YouTube eventually removed that particular video, but not before it amassed nearly 200,000 views."

Layoffs at Vox

Vox Media has laid off 50 employees, or 5 percent of its workforce, with publications including Racked, Curbed and SB Nation hit hardest. As Ad Age's George Slefo reports, the cuts mainly focused on staffers who made social-media videos at smaller brands. Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff issued a memo about the layoffs, saying, "It has become clear, due to industry changes over the past few months and our long term budgeting process, that those initiatives won't be viable audience or revenue growth drivers for us relative to other investments we are making."

Just briefly

KFC's "one job": KFC tried to deflect increasing U.K. consumer anger over its restaurant closures in its latest Twitter post, headlined, "There's gossip in the hen house, here's the facts..." It then answered the question, "'You had one job KFC. How did you run out of chicken? Fix it now!" Its answer, in part: "We've got the chicken, we've got the restaurants, but we've just had issues getting them together. We're working flat out to get it fixed." Late-night hosts, of course, are not pulling any punches.

Ford president departs: Raj Nair, president of Ford Motor Co. in North America, has left the automaker after complaints of "inappropriate behavior," reports Michael Martinez of Automotive News. Ford said an internal investigation found that "certain behavior by Nair was inconsistent with the company's code of conduct."

Unilever HQ decision imminent: Unilever will decide in the next few weeks whether to move its HQ from London to the Netherlands as a result of Brexit. The Financial Times reports that the issue is expected to be decided at the next scheduled board meeting in the second week of March, and says that the U.K. government is "braced" for the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant to move to Rotterdam.

Apple's cobalt talks: Apple is in talks to buy cobalt directly from miners, reports Bloomberg, in hopes of ensuring ample supply of the key battery ingredient for its iPhones and iPads. Rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatens to create a shortage of the raw material.

Audi emissions probe continues: Volkswagen Group's "Dieselgate" problem continues. Reuters reports that "German prosecutors searched the homes of three new suspects in connection with Audi's emissions scandal on Thursday, further widening their inquiry into the carmaker's test-cheating scandal to include former executives."

Creativity Pick of the Day: "Tomb Raider" star Alicia Vikander has reunited with director Niclas Larsson for a sequel to her 2016 short film for Vogue, in which she became obsessed with a fortune telling machine. In "Magic Diner Part II," the Swedish actor plays a version of herself in which she's so successful that she's on all the front pages and even the Nobel Prize Committee wants to talk to her. But what will she do when the fortune machine runs out of cards? "Vogue" editor Anna Wintour (who graced front pages herself this week, after sitting next to the Queen of England at London Fashion Week) has a cameo in the piece.

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