Friday Wake-Up Call: The U.S.-China trade war is here, and other news to know today

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It's here
It's here Credit: iStock/narvikk

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital 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: Just after midnight in Washington, D.C., President Trump's tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports went into effect. "Trump's trade war with China is officially underway," The New York Times says. China quickly said it would have to retaliate; it has previously promised tariffs on U.S. imports including soybeans and cars. Brands like Tesla and Ford could feel the impact, and so might Germany's Mercedes and BMW because they build SUVs in the U.S. to export to China, The Wall Street Journal has said.
The tariffs themselves aren't the only worry. More generally, China has warned it could also resort to what it calls "qualitative measures" against U.S. imports, for example, by delaying products at customs or by ramping up scrutiny by regulators. The Washington Post reports some U.S. companies are worried that's been happening already. American pet-food makers "say they're facing more rigorous inspections at ports, which delay goods from reaching shelves and ultimately hurt sales," The Post says. "And a U.S. manufacturer that exports vehicles to China recorded a 98 percent jump in random border inspections over the past month, throwing the firm behind schedule." These sorts of complications for U.S. brands operating in China might be just a coincidence, as The Post notes. Or not.

Tech gets a win in Europe
The European Parliament just turned down a controversial proposal that would have updated (and upended) EU copyright laws; lawmakers will revisit the issue in September. The proposal had supporters among film guilds, directors and artists including Paul McCartney, while free speech advocates worried it would clamp down on online expression. The tech industry opposed it too. As Quartz explains, the controversy focused on two aspects:

"The first, a 'link tax,' would force platforms like Google and Wikipedia to pay content creators before linking to their work. The second, an 'upload filter,' would require platforms like Facebook or YouTube to check user-generated content for copyright infringement before allowing it to be uploaded to their sites."

Some of the debate focused on the threat that "upload filters" would pose to satirical internet memes (perhaps not the biggest issue in all this, but hey, memes are fun and people like them). "Glad the European parliament decided memes can live," someone tweeted.

A big deal
As the week wraps up, people are still reflecting on Interpublic Group's deal to buy most of Acxiom for $2.3 billion. Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser has said the ad agency company's move to snap up a huge player in consumer data is "arguably the most significant M&A activity within the agency space since Publicis bought Sapient in 2014." Ad Age's George Slefo looks at why Acxiom wanted to sell a lucrative piece of its business, and why IPG wanted to buy it, given the climate of tighter restrictions and scrutiny about the collection of consumer data. Slefo talked to one industry observer who says that the next few years will be rocky for data owners, which may be why Acxiom wanted out. But, Slefo writes, "a major holding company such as IPG, which has a large, diversified portfolio of businesses, can weather that storm."

Another big deal?
Facebook Watch, the platform's video section, is in talks to do a reality show about soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo, Variety reports, adding that it "could be its biggest original series to date." CAA is reportedly packaging the show, which would be produced by Matador Content and Religion of Sports. The Real Madrid star, who also plays for the Portuguese national team, could get $10 million for 13 episodes, Variety says. That hefty sum makes us hope that Fiona the baby hippopatamus at the Cincinnati Zoo, who's another Facebook reality star, is being adequately rewarded for her on-camera work. Her series, "The Fiona Show," has 1.1 million followers now. She really deserves an extra mudbath.

Just briefly:
Bill Shine:
The former Fox News exec has a new job as deputy chief of staff for communications at the White House. Shine "was a key deputy of powerful Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds," reports CNN. (CNN's Reliable Sources newsletter suggests an alternate headline for the story: "Hannity's friend is now running the W.H. comms shop.")

Outdoor ads: When President Trump visits London next week, protesters will fly a six-meter balloon resembling an angry, toddler-esque Trump in a diaper. The office of the London mayor cleared the "Trump Baby" balloon to fly.

Big tobacco and new nicotine: Imperial Brands, the maker of Winston cigarettes, is launching a vaping product to compete with the popular devices from Juul Labs, Bloomberg News reports. Also note this stat from the article: Juul "has grabbed a 68 percent share of the U.S. retail market for vaping devices in just three years, according to Nielsen." (Belatedly, we also recommend this New Yorker story from May about the Juul phenomenon.)

Too-smart TVs?: The New York Times looks at how Samba TV "can analyze what viewers are watching, determine how many connected devices they have in the house and then target them with ads." Yikes.

Watch: Ad Age's I-Hsien Sherwood and Alfred Maskeroni have put together a video of the five most ingenious ideas from brands this week, including a totally "trippy, psychedelic animated spot for French soda Pimento from Animals Paris."

Creativity pick of the day: Two soccer greats, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, recite what they admire about each other (Zidane's left foot, Beckham's right foot, Zidane's creativity, Beckham's hair) in an Adidas ad for the World Cup. It's simple but affecting. Read more by Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine, and watch it here. Happy Friday.

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