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
This is a threat worth paying attention to: Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed says the company will pull ad spending from digital platforms that "breed division in society or fail to protect children," as Ad Age's Jack Neff writes. Unilever, maker of brands from Dove soap to Lipton tea, is the world's fourth-biggest ad spender, after Procter & Gamble, Samsung and Nestlé, according to Ad Age's Datacenter. So there's serious money at stake, but something else is going on here too: Unilever's threat goes way beyond the typical concerns about brand safety and seems to be "a broader effort by a big marketer to reshape social media," as Neff writes.
Weed is scheduled to make his case today at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, Calif., a year after Procter & Gamble's chief marketer used the same conference to tackle digital advertising for its transparency issues. In remarks shared in advance of his speech, Weed didn't call out any particular platforms, but Facebook, Twitter and YouTube should be worried.
Facebook's Gen Z problem
Facebook celebrated its 14th birthday last week, an occasion that went mostly unnoticed. In social network terms, that's … old. Now eMarketer says Facebook is expected to lose U.S. users in the 18-to-24-year-old age group this year for the first time, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports. eMarketer predicts a decline of nearly 6 percent this year in that age group on the social network. So where are the under-24s going, according to eMarketer? To Instagram (which, luckily for Facebook, it owns), and to Snapchat. But all is not super-rosy in Snapchat world right now. Which brings us to our next Wake-Up Call item …
Change is hard
Snapchat has the opposite problem as Facebook. It has been looking for more older users to power growth, and it's rolling out a major redesign which is supposed to be easier to use (including for those 35 and up.) But a lot of teenagers hate it, find it confusing and are begging Snapchat to bring the old version back, The Daily Beast reports. It adds:
"A fake tweet claiming that Snapchat would revert back to its old design if it got enough retweets received 1.3 million retweets as of Sunday afternoon and has become the sixth most retweeted tweet of all time."
There's also a Change.org petition asking Snapchat to undo the update, with around 550,000 signatures. (This is probably not the kind of petition Change.org's founders had in mind when they set up the platform, but whatever.) Is this a real issue for Snapchat, or do devoted users just need time to get used to it?
this snapchat update is the worst thing to happen since U2's album was downloaded to everyone's phone— Dory (@Dory) February 12, 2018
Comcast: The force awakens?
Back in December, The Walt Disney Co. struck a deal to buy 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for $52.4 billion in stock. But Comcast had actually offered 15 percent more, and now it's thinking about making another go at Fox, according to The Wall Street Journal. Maybe a Disney-Fox deal isn't a foregone conclusion. The Journal says Fox turned down an offer from cable giant Comcast that was in the low-$60 billions, fearing that regulators might shoot the deal down. A few factors might lead Comcast to try again; if the AT&T-Time Warner deal gets approval from regulators, for example, Comcast might feel "emboldened." There are obviously a lot of "ifs" here. But it's a reminder that it's not over 'til it's over.
Olympics: NBC's three-hour 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony coverage had 28.3 million broadcast TV viewers, according to Nielsen data. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, overall deliveries were down 11 percent from the equivalent broadcast four years ago.
Sorry: NBC apologized after an Olympics analyst made a comment that offended many people in host country South Korea. The commentator, Joshua Cooper Ramo, is out, Quartz reports.
Super Bowl food-for-thought: "In just four years, the cost of reaching 1,000 Super Bowl viewers has skyrocketed 35 percent, while the average household rating and number of viewers who tuned in dropped 8 percent," writes Ad Age's Anthony Crupi.
Tricky: The political campaign committee for the House intelligence chairman, Devin Nunes, funded a website designed to look like a conservative outlet for local news, Politico reported.
Priorities: An elementary school in Tokyo's posh Ginza district ordered school uniforms from Armani that may cost upwards of $730, AP reports. Many parents were not impressed.
'Naked wrestling': A KFC ad in Australia is being investigated by the Advertising Standards Bureau, AdNews reports. The spot involves a children's drawing of two parents engaged in "naked wrestling," a school art project that led to the parents being called in for a talking-to. KFC is now running a similar ad, but where the "naked wrestling" is replaced by a drawing of "daddy's fart trumpet," AdNews says.
Ads of the day: Check out some of the ads running in the 2018 Winter Olympics, including a poignant Toyota spot featuring U.S. figure skater Ashley Wagner, who failed to qualify for the Games. Watch them here and read more by Ad Age's E.J. Schultz.