Ad Age Wake-Up Call: How Apple, Facebook and Starbucks Responded in Troubling Times

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Good morning. Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: CEOs and brand leaders can't stop weighing in on white supremacists, the violence in Charlottesville, Va. and President Trump's reaction to the events there. Some quotable quotes:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: "It's a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong — as if this is somehow not obvious." Zuckerberg added that Facebook will remove violent threats from its pages; the company has been criticized for being slow to take down the event page put up by organizers of the Charlottesville event.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: "I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans." Plus, Apple is donating $2 million to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Read more at Recode.
Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz: "The moral fiber, the values, and what we as a country have stood for is literally hanging in the abyss." Schultz didn't comment directly on Trump; he said he would let the president's words and actions speak for themselves.
Mary Barra, GM CEO: "GM is about unity and inclusion, and so am I. We must reinforce tolerance and diversity."
Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO: "I strongly disagree with President Trump's reaction to the events that took place in Charlottesville over the past several days. Racism, intolerance and violence are always wrong." Read more in The Wall Street Journal.
Also: This New York Times story -- a group effort with four bylines -- has good details about how CEOs were plotting a mass defection before Trump disbanded his business advisory councils.

Amid the turmoil of this week, brands have been confused about how to use their social media accounts; is this the time to share something lighthearted or silly? Twitter, which should be an expert at this kind of thing, seemed out-of-touch. As Ad Age's Garett Sloane recounts, Twitter's marketing team asked users on Tuesday how they were spending National Relaxation Day. And people didn't like that: The first comment on Twitter's relaxation tweet asked, "Are you serious?" Another person said it should be National Xanax Day instead, adding, "I need a drink." A social media exec said all the comments were priceless, adding: "it's basically Twitter being tone-deaf on their own platform."

A Cool Billion
Apple is reportedly going to spend about $1 billion on original programming in the next year to compete with Amazon and Netflix. Some observers question the wisdom of that, given Apple's track record on original content so far. VentureBeat suggested it might as well burn a billion $1 bills, since Apple's "odious Planet of the Apps has proved to be every bit the cringeworthy crapfest that its very name suggested it would be the moment it was announced." The Wall Street Journal noted that the announcement barely caused stocks to move. And it said "the market is smart enough to know that spending a lot of money doesn't guarantee success in original programming, particularly because the competition is already spending a lot more."

Just briefly

Big questions: The Association of National Advertisers is doing a six-month pilot to figure out some big questions, including: How much money are ad-tech and other "middle players" siphoning out of the digital media marketplace between advertisers and publishers? The goal is to get 35 marketers to sign on to the pilot, with each pledging at least $1.5 million in spending, as Ad Age's Jack Neff reports.

Not again: HBO's social media accounts have been hacked, as Variety reports. The hacking doesn't seem to be connected to the cyberattacks the company has faced. There's a third thing too: HBO Nordic and HBO España services accidentally aired the next episode of "Game of Thrones" four days early, and now it's on piracy sites, Variety says.

Cringe: Do all women CEOs look alike? Check out this correction on a caption from The Wall Street Journal. "A caption in an earlier version of this article incorrectly said Mr. Trump was talking to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty." Except the photo showed General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra.

Hipsters for hire: An emerging app called Surkus can allow restaurants (and presumably shops) to hire cool-looking people to stand at the door and make the place look hip, as The Washington Post reports. The "extras" are picked by an algorithm that chooses them by age, location, style and Facebook likes, the report says.

Billion-dollar brand: The Kardashians are on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter this week with a tell-all group interview. (Surprisingly, there are some things still left to tell; Kourtney Kardashian said she used to shut herself into the bathroom to cry while crews were filming the family.) The online headline is: "The Kardashian Decade: How a Sex Tape Led to a Billion-Dollar Brand."

Campaign of the day: Hyatt Hotels debated whether to delay the release of this ad. It's a 50th anniversary spot remembering how the Hyatt Regency Atlanta opened its doors to civil rights leaders in 1967, as Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli reports. But the brand decided to go for it, despite the events in Charlottesville.

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