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Your Tuesday Wake-Up Call: A Hidden Agenda in Starbucks' Holiday Cups? Plus, a Bain-WPP Truce

By Published on .

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. We've got a little news ourselves: You can now 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: CBS News has reportedly suspended TV host Charlie Rose, and PBS and Bloomberg have stopped airing his long-running namesake show. The Washington Post says eight women have accused Rose of making unwanted sexual advances on them (including groping them and walking around naked in front of them); the women were his employees or potential hires. Rose apologized and said he was embarrassed: "I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. The New York Daily News put Rose on the front page, under the headline "Charlie Gross."

Tempest in a coffee cup
The holidays are here, which means it's time to wrap presents, watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and pick an argument about the meaning of Starbucks seasonal paper coffee cups. "This year, critics wonder if Starbucks is using its holiday cups to promote homosexuality," as The New York Times reports in a story brimming with dry wit. Starbucks released a promo cartoon video about the cups, which briefly showed two women holding hands. The paper cups themselves also bear a cartoon drawing of interlocked hands, and supposedly (according to BuzzFeed, at least) some people are wondering if they are the hands of a same-sex couple. BuzzFeed even ran an online poll, asking people to vote on whether the hands are a) gay b) not gay c) ehhh, I'm not convinced either way or d) why do people even care what's on these cups? For some reason over 47,000 people have felt the need to vote, and response "d" is winning.

Truce
It sounds like a nasty spat between WPP, Bain Capital and Japanese agency group Asatsu-ADK is finally over. The backstory: Bain Capital wants to buy Japanese agency group Asatsu-ADK for $1.3 billion. But several shareholders, including agency giant WPP – which owns about a quarter of ADK – have been complaining that Bain's offer undervalued the Japanese company.

Now WPP appears to have changed its mind and agreed to sell its shares at the same price. Bain released a statement saying it had agreed on a way forward with WPP, adding that WPP would retract its legal proceedings against ADK in Japan if the tender offer succeeds. WPP has not yet commented, and it was not clear what might have changed from WPP's perspective. Other ADK shareholders now have until Dec. 6 to decide how to proceed.

Six seconds
So how did those six-second World Series ads perform -- the ones where a brand message took over part of a screen while the action continued? Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes that so far "the micro-spots appear to have had a disproportionate impact on audience engagement and recall." And T-Mobile says the tactic was "hugely effective." We'll be seeing more six-second ads during Fox's upcoming Thanksgiving Day NFL broadcast.

Net neutrality and more
The FCC is planning to do away with net neutrality regulations created during the Obama administration, as Politico reports – and that would be a win for the telecom industry and a blow to consumers. The New York Times has some details on what that would mean:

"Under a repeal, companies like AT&T and Comcast may be able to charge people higher fees to access certain websites and online services. The companies may also be able to prioritize their own services while disadvantaging websites run by rivals."

There was also big bad news for AT&T yesterday: The U.S. Justice Department has sued to try to stop AT&T's $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner. The head of the Justice Department says the deal would hurt consumers because it "would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy." So while the U.S. Justice Department wants to penalize AT&T to protect consumers, the FCC may be giving AT&T a win at the expense of consumers. Yes, that's confusing.

Just briefly:

I get knocked down, but I get up again: During Victoria's Secret fashion show, a model took a tumble on the runway, then picked herself up with a smile. The moment went viral in China, where the show took place. A bigger upset for the lingerie brand was that Katy Perry and Gigi Hadid were supposed to be there, but there are reports China denied their visas, the BBC reports.

No smoking: Starting this weekend, anti-smoking messages will air on U.S. prime-time TV – and they're paid for by Big Tobacco, The Associated Press reports.

Semi-retirement: Rob Norman, global chief digital officer of GroupM, is leaving his full-time role but will continue on as an advisor, Ad Age's Megan Graham reports.

Bell Pottinger: Hanover Group, a communications consultancy, has acquired the Mideast assets of Bell Pottinger, the disgraced British PR firm, The Financial Times reports.

Number of the day: $500 billion. Chinese internet giant Tencent "now joins the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Apple to pass the $500 billion market capitalization mark," CNBC reports.

Ad of the day: A touching Gatorade ad features tennis star and new mom Serena Williams cradling a baby girl and encouraging her to play sports. It turns out it's not actually Williams' infant (her baby was under the weather), but it's nonetheless very sweet. Watch it here and read more by Ad Age's E.J. Schultz.

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