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: Amazon got a whopping 238 proposals from North American cities hoping to host its second headquarters (that's #HQ2 in Amazon parlance.) The company proudly announced the number on Twitter, provoking some snarky commentary from Fast Company: "Amazon is so popular it feels like it's about two minutes away from getting nominated to homecoming court and trying to make this the Best. Prom. Ever!"
Cities made video pitches to sell themselves, and The Dallas Morning News says the competition sparked a new video genre: "Nearly all the videos have some combination of views of the city's skyline, emphasis on innovation and education, and scenes of diversity," it writes. Little Rock, Ark. bucked the trend and decided not to bid. ICYM, it delivered an "it's not you, it's me"-style breakup dialogue on why things could never work out, even though "you're Amazon. You're smart, sexy, and frankly, incredibly rich … Amazon, you have so much going for you. And you'll find what you're looking for."
This is just a test
What would a Facebook news feed look like without the news? Facebook has been testing that. In a few markets, it has created two separate feeds, one for posts from friends and family, and another where publishers' posts would go, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes. Facebook explains that "people have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family." Publishers would have to pay to get their posts into the "friends and family" section. And maybe the change would address Facebook's "fake news" issues too, if baby pictures and humble-bragging take precedence over other content.
The test has been happening in six countries, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia, and Facebook says there are currently no plans to expand it. Still, the news caused jitters. "Facebook's latest test should terrify publishers," Recode writes. There are also concerns from human rights circles about Facebook's choice of test markets:
These are almost all post-conflict societies or relatively young democracies which need strong independent journalism. For Facebook their people and publishers are just test subjects.— Nicholas Dawes (@NicDawes) October 24, 2017
California billionaire Tom Steyer is waging a $10 million campaign to convince lawmakers to impeach President Trump. His video ad is to-the-point: He calls Trump "a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons." Money says his commercials have run on New York and California broadcast stations, and on cable stations nationally. The ad, posted Thursday on YouTube, has nearly 730,000 views. But what is he really advertising? An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times has asked if Steyer might have his eye on a Senate seat, adding: "What Steyer has launched is more of a $10-million advertising campaign touting both his cause and himself." Hustler magazine's Larry Flynt is also pledging $10 million to the same cause, but with a different approach: He wants to give the money away to anybody with dirt that takes the president down.
Under Armour: The sportswear brand is thinking about exiting categories including tennis, The Wall Street Journal reports. Plus, co-founder Kip Fulks is taking a sabbatical, it says.
The end: After just one episode, ESPN decided to drop its late-night "Barstool Van Sports." As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, the show "premiered to underwhelming ratings, and employees bristled about having to associate with a brand many viewed as a haven for meatheaded misogyny."
Actually: Courts have ruled that Johnson & Johnson does not have to pay nearly $500 million to women who said using baby powder caused them to get cancer, The New York Times says. That's a reversal from previous decisions.
Press pause: Justin Timberlake's endorsement work for beverage brand Bai will go on hold until after he performs at the Super Bowl halftime show, which is sponsored by Pepsi, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports.
$32 million: "What you need to know about the new $32 million Bill O'Reilly Scandal," by Ad Age's Simon Dumenco.
$1,000 bagel: The Westin New York Hotel in Times Square is selling a $1,000 bagel with gold flakes on it. But don't worry, proceeds go to charity.
Creativity pick of the day: The only image in CNN's new ad spot is an apple, but it's a powerful metaphor at a time when President Trump is excoriating the network as "fake news." Watch the spot here, and read more by Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz.