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Your Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Papa John's Message to Neo-Nazis Is a Middle Finger Emoji

By Published on .

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. You can now get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app. Happy listening.

What people are talking about today: Remember when Papa John's blamed its falling pizza sales on the NFL's handling of the anthem protests? The brand has now apologized and said it didn't mean to seem "divisive." In a Twitter thread, the pizza chain and NFL sponsor says it believes in the rights of players to protest inequality, and it also says Americans should honor the national anthem. "There is a way to do both," it wrote, diplomatically.

And then the brand's Twitter account tweeted this:

The emoji is tiny, and case you can't see it clearly, yes, that's indeed a raised middle finger. The message is clear: Even if a white supremacist website embraced Papa John's after the brand seemed to gripe about the anthem protests, the brand wants absolutely nothing to do with neo-Nazis. For more backstory on the extremely bizarre, only-in-2017 tale of how a pizza chain wound up getting endorsed by white supremacists, read Jessica Wohl's story from last week.

Well this was unexpected
Lord & Taylor is teaming up with … Walmart. As Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli reports, the department store "will have its own, separate boutique within the Walmart.com site and within its app, in addition to its existing LordandTaylor.com site." At a time when retail is struggling, the alliance is a way for Lord & Taylor to get stronger at e-commerce. And for Walmart, it helps build up its defenses against Amazon. And though there are things about it that make sense, the partnership is yet another reminder that 2017 is a weird moment in time.

Snapchat
Snapchat is wooing advertisers by giving them more targeting tools for filters, the colorful overlays that people can put on top of their photos and videos, often to comic effect. Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports that now brands can target people "based on interests, time of day, age, gender and other technical criteria." A lot of advertisers have been wishing Snapchat would give them more possibilities, and this is a step. But it will require a lot more work to siphon serious ad money away from the duopoly, Facebook and Google.
Also: Snapchat has a new ESPN "SportsCenter" offering, but Recode says ithe show is missing something, a big something: It doesn't have the right to show NFL highlights.

Barbie in a hijab
The Mattel brand has launched a Barbie who wears a hijab and is modeled on U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammed herself helped design both the hijab and the doll, and she requested that it have the powerful legs of an athlete, Vogue says. It's the next offering in Mattel's Sheroes lines; other Sheroes include Misty Copeland and Ashley Graham. Mattel has made efforts to make its Barbies (and Kens) more diverse, but Vogue says this is the first Barbie to wear a hijab. Although we bet a lot of lot of little girls have been making DIY headscarves for their Barbies for years.

Just briefly:

Next: Today is the start of Ad Age Next, our two-day conference in New York. Attendees will hear from Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Wayfair, Google, Walmart, The Washington Post, Burger King, Twitter and Bloomberg. And we'll be talking about AI, chatbots, voice marketing, rapid-fire creative iteration, next-level ad blocking, VR and the way we see the future. Check it out here.

Hazy: Some brands have sowed confusion about whether they're boycotting Sean Hannity's show or not. Conagra brands Reddi-wip and Hebrew National each tweeted that they removed the show from their ad plans. They later clarified that it wasn't a recent decision, as Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi reports.

Creepy: The FDA has approved a digital pill, "a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine," The New York Times reports.

A tale of toilet paper: Ad Age's Jack Neff wrote a 1500-word story about the White Cloud brand of TP. It turns out there's quite a saga involving the brand, which has refused to die despite attempts to do away with it.

420: "Budweiser's ex-marketing chief sees weed as the new craft beer," and he's investing in the category, as Bloomberg News reports.

Sigh of relief: Some fans thought they heard an F-bomb dropped in Marks & Spencer's Christmas ad featuring Paddington bear, and they complained. But the UK advertising watchdog says they just misheard, The Guardian reports.

Mario: The studio that made "Despicable Me" and "The Secret Life of Pets" is close to a deal with Nintendo to make a "Super Mario Bros." animated film, The Wall Street Journal says.

True story: "A man with red pants and a German accent walks into an L.A. bar called Blind Barber," and what happened next planted the seeds for a new premium brand of carbonated mixers, as Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz reports.

Creativity pick of the day: Russian airline S7 has a gorgeous, artsy, and slightly disturbing video that reminds you to travel IRL instead of just fantasizing about places on Instagram. "The world is bigger than the palm of your hand," the voiceover says. Watch it here, and read more by Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine.

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