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
The Walt Disney Co. is reportedly getting closer to a potential deal to buy big pieces of 21st Century Fox, the Murdochs' empire. Though the Murdochs have also been talking to Comcast, they are said to prefer Disney, Bloomberg News says. Sources told Bloomberg that the assets to change hands "would include the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio and Fox's stake in the U.K. pay-TV provider Sky," though they don't include Fox News, the Fox broadcast network or the Fox Sports 1 channel.
So why would Rupert Murdoch, 86, want to break up the empire he spent decades building? Among the possible reasons is that a sale might help "clarify" succession issues involving his sons, as The Wall Street Journal reports. The younger son, James, "could wind up going to Disney in a senior role, setting him up as a potential candidate to succeed (Disney CEO Robert) Iger, who has said he plans to retire in 2019," The Journal says.
A big deal: Ad Age's Anthony Crupi narrows in on one important aspect of this potential sale: It could be a "game-changer" for Disney's ESPN, Crupi writes, if Fox's regional sports networks are included in the deal.
Publicis, WPP and Omnicom plan to funnel more of their clients' ad spending to Amazon next year, The Wall Street Journal reports. The three plan to "boost their ad spending with Amazon between 40 percent and 100 percent in 2018," the Journal says, as they look for an alternative to the biggest players, Google and Facebook. That would chip away (a bit, anyway) at the duopoly's grip on the digital market. WPP's GroupM estimated this week that Google and Facebook together account for 84% of the world's digital ad spending, if you strip out China, where Google and Facebook are censored.
Also: Amazon just launched in Australia, and The New York Times says businesses there view it with "familiar feelings of enthusiasm, doubt and existential dread."
Google vs. Amazon
Google and Amazon are fighting again, and who's getting beaten up? Consumers. Google "once again started to block access to YouTube on Amazon's Echo Show device Tuesday," Variety reports. And it's letting Amazon Fire TV users know that they won't be able to view YouTube anymore on Jan. 1. This is retaliation for Amazon's unwillingness to sell some Google products, like Google Home and Chromecast. This spat seems to be getting meaner as Google and Amazon compete against each other more, in areas from home assistants to video streaming. And of course, though Google is the No. 1 recipient of the world's digital ad dollars, Amazon is going for a bigger piece of the pie (see above.)
"Anomaly—which was behind Budweiser's headline-grabbing Super Bowl ads for the past seven years—will not handle the 2018 spot," as Ad Age's E.J. Schulz writes. Despite the Super Bowl decision, the Anomaly-Bud relationship continues and has gained strength internationally. Click here to read more on that, and to watch Anomaly's popular Super Bowl spots for Bud. Such as 2014's "Puppy Love," which Ace Metrix says was the "single most-liked Super Bowl spot from 2011 through 2015," as Schultz writes. Who could forget a love story between a yellow Labrador retriever puppy and a Clydesdale? Even if, sadly, those cute puppies didn't sell beer?
Out: Russia has been barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea as a punishment for doping. The New York Times reports: "The country's government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound."
Another one: Dylan Howard, the top editor for The National Enquirer and Us Weekly, has been accused of sexual misconduct, including forcing women to look at pornography, The Associated Press reports.
Worth reading: It seems impossible that there are more sordid details left to uncover in the Harvey Weinstein case, but there are. The New York Times has an 8,000-word story about the network that allegedly preserved the silence about his misdeeds, including American Media Inc., publishers of The National Enquirer, and several agents from Creative Artists Agency.
Malware: Non-profit news organization ProPublica has yet another investigation into Facebook advertising, this time looking at how Facebook approved scams or malware masquerading as political ads.
We Are Unlimited: DDB North America's dedicated McDonald's agency We Are Unlimited is getting a new CEO, with iCrossing's Mark Mulhern taking over on Jan. 8, Ad Age's Lindsay Stein and Jessica Wohl report.
Movie moves: The UK's Cineworld is purchasing U.S. cinema chain Regal in a $3.6 billion deal, the BBC says. The new entity would be the world's No. 2 player in the space.
Online media: ZiffDavis is buying Mashable for less than $50 million -- "a fire sale price" -- and plans to lay off 50 people, Recode reports. Also, TheSkimm, the daily email newsletter, "is exploring a possible sale after being contacted by an interested buyer," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Quote of the day: "Fuck that shit," said diversity advocate Cindy Gallop, responding to CES' explanations for the lack of women as keynote speakers at its consumer tech show in Las Vegas. Read more by Ad Age's Megan Graham.
Ad of the day: Do you hate company conference calls? Then "watch the Geico gecko and colleagues reenact every conference call ever," as Ad Age's Simon Dumenco writes. You can relive all those awkward pauses and mute button mishaps.