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Thursday Wake-Up Call: Amazon spills a secret. Plus, how much might ad-free Facebook cost?

By Published on .

Boxes at an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Boxes at an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Credit: Jim Young/Bloomberg

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: Amazon says it's got over 100 million Prime subscribers now globally. That's a number the company has kept quiet since the subscription plan was launched in 2005. After 13 years, though, it's hit a big round number, so why not brag about it? In a letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also said the company shipped 5 billion items worldwide through Prime last year, as Bloomberg News reports. For context: Netflix did a little bragging too this week, revealing that it has 125 million subscribers globally.
More bragging rights for Amazon: Amazon Studios is moving into Culver Studios, where "Gone With the Wind," "Citizen Kane" and "E.T." were filmed, as The New York Times writes.

Real beauty redux
CVS is taking a stand against airbrushing in beauty ads, and the first campaign is here. It's called "Beauty in Real Life" (which is basically "Real beauty," the Dove catchphrase, with two extra words added.) As Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes,

"In the spot, which begins airing late this week, women talk about beauty as they go about their everyday activities. 'I feel powerful,' says one. 'It's definitely not about conforming,' says another.

CVS has a new insignia, "CVS Beauty Mark," for ads that haven't been airbrushed, which this spot from creative agency Standard Black uses. The models look gorgeous, but they also look like actual people. There are laugh lines, freckles, a few minor zits and (if you look closely) a dusting of fuzz on a close-up of a woman's chin. Because let's face it: real beauty has peach fuzz.
Another sign of changing beauty norms?: Yesterday was "a sad day for attractive people," as Ad Age's Simon Dumenco writes, since both People and The Hill ended their "most beautiful" lists. The Hill axed its list entirely, while People is calling it "The Beautiful Issue" instead of "World's Most Beautiful," to be less beauty contest-y.

GDPR 4 U
There's some GDPR news today, so if acronyms aren't your thing, move right along to the next item, please. The European Union's strict new online data privacy rules, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, go into effect May 25. Companies are getting ready (and freaking out.)
1. In Age Age, George Slefo writes that companies offering help getting ready for the big changes (which carry big penalties) are bidding up the prices of online search ads with the term GDPR. As Slefo writes, the cost per click on such ads increased between November and December, by 1,323 percent, according to search analytics firm AdGooro.
2. To comply with GDPR, Facebook will guide European users through a series of questions about how they will allow their data to be used. Some observers say Facebook is still making it highly inconvenient for Europeans protect their data. TechCrunch says the design "encourages rapidly hitting the 'Agree' button" on what Facebook wants you to say, and adds that it has a "laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens."

11 bucks
Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook is exploring the idea of an ad-free version of the service that you'd have to pay for. How much might that cost? BuzzFeed News crunched the numbers and finds that in the U.S. and Canada,

"an $11 monthly charge would appear to pay Facebook back for the ad revenue it would stand to lose. It's a number the company can support with recent financials, it falls close to the $9.99–$11.99 subscription service sweet spot, and it's already picking up some steam."

That's way more than a basic Netflix subscription in the U.S., at $7.99. And how many people think an ad-less Facebook is worth more than the price of Netflix?

Just briefly:
Snapchat + selfies + ads:
"Snapchat is creating augmented reality shopping ads, blending selfies with commerce," Garett Sloane writes in Ad Age. Clairol and Adidas are among the brands that tested it.

NBCU: The OpenAp consortium has a new member, NBC Universal, writes Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi. OpenAp was formed by Turner, Fox Networks Group and Viacom to defend against threats to the industry.

FuboTV: The sports streaming service says it got $75 million in Series D funding, including from new investor AMC Networks, TechCrunch says.

E-sports: The NBA's new pro video-game league "has signed a multiyear broadcast contract with Twitch, the streaming service owned by Amazon," Bloomberg News reports.

Diversity: You might not want to use the word "initiative" when talking about your workplace diversity efforts, says God-is Rivera, VML's director of inclusion and cultural resonance, who talks to Ad Age's Megan Graham about mistakes to avoid to foster a more inclusive workplace. (What's wrong with "initiative"? It sounds like a one-off, not a commitment.) Rivera will be speaking at the Ad Age Survival Summit

Scooter Braun: The manager for Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Psy and Ariana Grande talks to Ad Age editor Brian Braiker about why, in college, he bought a $30,000 Mercedes with purple rims as a personal branding statement.

Headline of the day: From Bloomberg News, "A Florida Man Has Been Accused of Making 97 Million Robocalls." Seriously.

Product of the day: Ikea is at work on a new affordable multicomponent audio system with a Bauhaus-inspired look. Ad Age's Ann Christine Diaz calls it "a party in a box" and says the products "consist of a turntable, speakers and lighting equipment costing from about $5 to $99." The new line, a collaboration between Ikea and Teenage Engineering, will be released in June 2019. It's got a very Ikea-ish name, Frekvens (Swedish for "frequency.")

Ad Age invites creatives 30 or younger to compete to design the cover of our Creativity issue, which will be distributed at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June. The winner also gets a free trip to Cannes. The deadline to enter has just been extended to April 30.

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