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Wednesday Wake-Up Call: More Drama at Newsweek's Publisher. Plus, Wendy's Mocks McDonald's

By Published on .

Credit: iStock/DragonImages

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
Fox just suggested it would try to reduce ad loads to two minutes per hour in the next two years. So what's the deal -- is Fox simply going to make up for lost revenues by charging more for the ads that remain? Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes that if that's Fox's only game plan, it would have to more than quintuple its prices for ad time during "Empire." But:

"That's not going to happen. More realistically, it would have to pin its hopes on a dramatic and ambitious evolution in the TV ad model, replacing traditional spots with a robust package of new formats, targeting and brand integrations that often demand extra effort from advertisers."

Just a prediction: The industry is worried right now about how much consumers dislike interruptive ads, but if brand integrations get out of control, consumers won't be happy either. (Confession: This particular HGTV viewer is super-bored of watching designers cram homes with tchotchkes from Wayfair.)

More trouble at Newsweek Media Group
Last month, when Ad Age's Simon Dumenco delved into the turmoil at a legacy American media brand, he titled his piece, "What you need to know about the insane crisis at Newsweek." Well, things are getting even more insane. As BuzzFeed News writes, "The embattled publisher of Newsweek and the International Business Times on Tuesday admitted that three of its websites were running malicious code that experts say is used to commit ad fraud." The code reportedly ran on three international websites of Newsweek Media Group's International Business Times. Newsweek Media Group put out a news release saying it is conducting an internal investigation. Newsweek wrote about it too (Newsweek reporters, to their credit, have been covering their own publisher's travails.)

But wait, there's more news about Newsweek Media Group. The company announced structural changes and says it's making Newsweek and the International Business Times into "separate operating entities." And two of its digital publications, Latin Times and Medical Daily, have shut down, the New York Post reports.

Big Food
A slew of high-profile companies have deserted a big lobbying group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association or GMA. As Quartz writes, The Campbell Soup Co. left first, and then Nestlé did, and then came Dean Foods, Mars, Tyson Foods, Unilever, the Hershey Co., Cargill, Kraft Heinz Co. and DowDuPont. (Politico has previously reported on many of the departures.) The departures are notable for what they say about consumers wanting healthier food and more openness from brands. Quartz talked to one unnamed lobbyist who says that "rather than trying to evolve with consumer demand, GMA leadership chose instead to be pugnacious about issues like GMO transparency and improved food-package ingredient labeling." The association told Quartz that it's reinventing itself. But one underlying message of all the departures seems to be that marketers no longer want to be associated with Big Food and some of what it's stood for.

Burger battle
As Ad Age's Jessica Wohl reported yesterday, McDonald's is making a big marketing push around its use of fresh (not frozen) quarter pound beef patties. Wendy's, known for relentlessly mocking its bigger burger rival on Twitter, naturally had some snarky comments.

It's true that yesterday was National Frozen Food Day, by the way. It debuted in 1984, and as NPR has noted, it's an "unsung legacy" of former President Ronald Reagan.

Just briefly:
Backlash:
Now that Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods raised the age limit for buying guns to 21, a 20-year-old from Oregon filed suit against them for age discrimination, The Oregonian reports.

BlackBerry vs. Apple: BlackBerry filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook, as well as its WhatsApp and Instagram apps, saying they copied from BlackBerry Messenger, Reuters reports.

Body-positive: A new spinoff beauty-and-style brand from BuzzFeed is called As/Is and will stress body positivity and individuality, Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes.

Bumble: Dating app Bumble will put its logo on the uniforms of the Los Angeles Clippers, Bloomberg News reports.

From patties to Caddies: Former McDonald's U.S. marketing chief Deborah Wahl will be Cadillac's global chief marketing officer, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports.

Unscripted content: Discovery Communications closed its purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive, and The Hollywood Reporter says the deal creates "a powerhouse in the unscripted and lifestyle content field at a time when deals have been a recurring theme and topic of debate in the entertainment industry."

What?: A deal to sell troubled movie studio The Weinstein Co. "has collapsed yet again," The New York Times reports.

Tweet of the day: In honor of the 50th anniversary of PBS' "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood":

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