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: Happy Black Friday shopping! So what if the faux holiday is still over two weeks away? Best Buy's Black Friday discounts started yesterday, and Walmart's launch today, as The Washington Post reports. These are rough times for retail, and shops are competing for our attention sooner than ever. Will the strategy pay off? Who knows. In the meantime, some news you can use: There are $6 pajamas on sale at Walmart.
Twitter has a new offering targeted at small businesses, a subscription ad service that costs $99 a month, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes. For that fee, Twitter subscribers get up to 10 promoted tweets a day, and the service is designed to be automated and hassle-free. Twitter's ad business isn't doing so well, with ad sales down 8% in the third quarter from the year earlier. The question here is, does Twitter need small businesses more than small businesses need Twitter?
And now a word from our sponsor
ESPN "SportsCenter" is trying out live commercials – having anchors plug a brand on the set, a throwback to the early days of TV. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, live commercials are "the latest salvo in the never-ending battle to dissuade TV viewers from skipping out on the ads." ESPN's first try starred anchor Kenny Mayne as well as a guy named Jim, who stood there looking uncomfortable in Fruit of the Loom sweats. It wasn't actually live, though future efforts will be. And the stunt concluded with a bizarre 80s'-style jingle: "I'm feeling sweet in sweats!" The whole thing was intentionally awkward and cheesy – will that be intriguing enough to make viewers stick around?
Official pizza of the NFL
Papa John's CEO blamed falling pizza sales on the NFL's handling of the anthem protests. And then the pizza chain got embraced by a neo-Nazi website, and the brand had to say it doesn't want hate groups eating its pizza.
So, what's next? Papa John's, the NFL's official pizza sponsor, is distancing itself from the league. As Ad Age's Jessica Wohl writes, the chain has been "removing NFL imagery and 'official sponsor' wording from ads. It's airing more 15-second spots focused on the chain than 30-second ones about football." And it's also reevaluating whether to continue as the official pizza sponsor of the NFL and the Super Bowl. The brand's newly named creative agency, Laundry Service, doesn't start work until January – this must be an odd time to be watching from the sidelines.
Hold on: AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner seemed like a done deal. But the Justice Department is scrutinizing it, and an AT&T exec says the timing is now uncertain, Bloomberg News reports. People are watching what happens next carefully, because President Trump is no fan of CNN, which belongs to Time Warner.
Loyal fans: Fans of "Stranger Things" crashed the website of a Minnesota museum selling a dinosaur hoodie that appears in the show, CNBC says. And they bought $400,000 worth of sweatshirts, too. The Science Museum of Minnesota says it's loving the opportunity to be connected to a popular show.
No growth: Burberry Group announced that it doesn't expect to see sales growth until fiscal 2021, and shares dropped, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Streaming wars: Apple outbid Netflix for a show featuring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, Bloomberg News reports.
Dough: Panera Bread is buying Au Bon Pain, and Panera CEO Ron Shaich is stepping down, Ad Age's Jessica Wohl reports.
Trump campaign: President Trump's digital media director says he was able to gather $280 million in campaign donations through ad campaigns run on Facebook, Ad Age's George Slefo reports.
Creativity pick of the day: CNBC has a new reality show called "The Job Interview." To promote it, CNBC "staged a stunt on the streets of New York in which it interviewed job candidates in a glass box with crowds of people watching." Yikes. Read more by Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz, and watch the stunt here.