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Dissent at Facebook. Plus, 2020 election ad spending (so far): Tuesday Wake-Up Call
Dissent at Facebook
Some Facebook employees have broken rank to criticize the company for allowing politicians to make false claims in political ads. The New York Times reports that at least 250 employees have signed the document. “Misinformation affects us all,” the letter says, according to The Times, and the company’s policies on political ads “are a threat to what FB stands for.”
Facebook’s management looks at this as a free speech issue; it says it doesn’t want to censor politicians. The letter-signers are uncomfortable that Facebook profits from ads that contain misinformation. One of the letter’s suggestions is that Facebook “hold political ads to the same standard as other ads.” In other words, if brands can’t make false claims about hair loss treatments, why let politicians lie about their rivals?
Also: A man in San Francisco “registered as a candidate in California's 2022 gubernatorial election—not with the primary goal of becoming governor, but so he can run false Facebook ads of his own,” CNN reports. He wants to nudge Facebook to stop allowing politicians to run ads containing false claims.
Election ad spend-o-meter
So far in the 2020 U.S. presidential race, President Trump has spent $7.9 million on TV/radio ads, which puts him well behind big-spending long-shot Democratic candidate Tom Steyer, who has laid out $34.9 million in that category. On Facebook, though, “Trump is outspending everyone with his $13.5 million outlay,” Ad Age’s Kevin Brown and Simon Dumenco write. Check out all the numbers from Ad Age Datacenter's analysis in partnership with Kantar/CMAG. Here's one more number worth a brief mention here: Steyer is spending half a million dollars a day on his campaign. He’s a billionaire (obviously).
Farewell to a quirk of “Monday Night Football”
ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” said goodbye to its much-mocked halftime musical interlude. The Genesis Halftime Show was launched last year with Hyundai's standalone luxury brand Genesis, but the programming didn't align with viewers' expectations, and the segment became the butt of Twitter jokes. As Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi reports, ESPN “decided that using halftime for more news and analysis was ultimately the best way to serve our NFL fans.” NFL fans greeted the move with amusement—and sarcasm. “No more Genesis Halftime Show? The audacity. The nerve. Tonight we riot,” someone tweeted.
NRA vs. Ackerman McQueen: The legal battle between the National Rifle Association and its longtime former agency Ackerman McQueen just got even more acrimonious. The agency created content for video network NRATV, but the NRA now says the programming was “distasteful and racist,” The Daily Beast reports. The agency retorts that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre “controlled every aspect of NRATV.”
Win some, lose some: Google’s third-quarter ad sales rose 17 percent to $33.9 billion, but profit at parent company Alphabet dropped, dented by the company’s spending on cloud-computing, Bloomberg News reports.
Cord-cutters: AT&T’s DirecTV and U-Verse together lost around 1.2 million video subscribers in the most recent quarter. As Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi reports, AT&T Chairman-CEO Randall Stephenson “didn’t make any explicit vows to put DirecTV on the market," though he said AT&T will carefully evaluate its options. “We have no sacred cows,” Stephenson said on an earnings call.
Meh: As a stunt for Reese’s candy, Neil Patrick Harris hosted an interactive Halloween haunted house experience on Facebook Live. But the occasion was more awkward than spooky, Ilyse Liffreing writes in Ad Age. “Even Reese’s admits the event did not go according to plan.”
Podcast of the day: Kay Hsu, global director at Instagram Creative Shop, talks about living with breast cancer in the latest edition of Ad Age’s Ad Block podcast, hosted by I-Hsien Sherwood and Alfred Maskeroni. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.
Ad of the day: The chicken sandwich wars are back. Popeyes’ chicken sandwich—which was so popular it quickly sold out—is returning Nov. 3. That’s a Sunday, and Popeye’s is using the occasion to remind everyone that rival Chick-fil-A is closed Sundays, Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl writes. Also, don’t worry, because "this time around, Popeyes is confident it will have enough product to meet demand,” Wohl writes.
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