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What people are talking about today
Happy International Women's Day. A lot of brands are celebrating the occasion, but sometimes it feels a little awkward. Walmart has an ad featuring women employees who worked their way up the corporate ladder; the company wants you to know that it promoted over 150,000 women last year. Contrast that messaging with this headline from Vox last month: "Walmart just got hit with a major gender discrimination suit."
Etsy, the online marketplace, has a "Fearless Women Capsule Collection," which includes such items as a $6.50 Jane Austen cookie cutter. It's oh-so-Etsy, and it's adorable. Although ... a cookie cutter may not be the most appropriate homage to one of history's great writers. For a few dollars more, you can snag "Pride and Prejudice" in paperback (and if you've got one already, maybe give it to a young reader). Anyway, check out a whole bunch of International Women's Day campaigns, courtesy of Ad Age's Olivia Raimonde.
Mondelez, the $26 billion snack maker, changed up its media agencies last year. Now the maker of Oreos and Ritz crackers is following that up with a global review of its creative agencies, Ad Age's Jessica Wohl and Megan Graham report. The move "puts a number of holding companies on notice," they write. "Mondelez has worked with a range of agencies across multiple holding companies, including Interpublic Group of Companies' FCB and Martin Agency, WPP's Ogilvy and Dentsu Aegis' McGarryBowen and 360i." According to the Ad Age Datacenter, Mondelez is in the top 100 ad spenders globally.
Up next for MDC?
MDC Partners, whose agencies include 72andSunny, Anomaly and Doner, has been weighing its options as it goes through a rough patch. Now Stagwell Group, the agency company founded by former Microsoft executive Mark Penn, is in negotiations to make a $100 million investment in MDC, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz and Megan Graham report. They write: "If the deal is finalized, Penn, known as a longtime political strategist for Hillary and Bill Clinton, is expected to lead MDC as part of the investment." Also, MDC is expected to remain its own publicly traded entity, with Stagwell taking two board seats. Stay tuned.
Facebook, vaccine misinformation and ads
For Facebook, cracking down on misinformation is a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. The Verge reports:
"Under fire for serving up anti-vaccine propaganda, Facebook announced today that it will remove groups and pages that share anti-vaccine misinformation from its recommendations. The company also pledged that it will stop allowing advertisers to target people who Facebook's advertising algorithm identifies as interested in 'vaccine controversies.'"
But Facebook won't go so far as to kick anti-vaccine pages and groups off the platform entirely. Reminder: Pinterest has taken a much more radical stand on this issue, by blocking search results related to vaccinations.
'Fearless Girl': A court order blocked the artist behind New York's "Fearless Girl" sculpture from selling a replica to German buyers, Bloomberg News reports. State Street Global Advisors, which commissioned the sculpture as a marketing move, accuses artist Kristen Visbal of "weakening and adulterating the Fearless Girl message."
Upfront alert: Comcast's FreeWheel will make its first upfront pitch to advertisers next week. Jeanine Poggi writes in Ad Age that it wants to "build more awareness for its media business and position itself as a leader in the much-ballyhooed advanced TV space."
The robot takeover: "Patch, which operates local news sites in 1,277 communities across the U.S., is using artificial intelligence to gin up routine news and data-driven stories in an effort to relieve reporters of repetitive, low-level work," Ilyse Liffreing writes in Ad Age.
Smooth move: After President Trump accidentally called Apple's CEO "Tim Apple" instead of Tim Cook, the executive changed his Twitter user name, slyly replacing his last name with an apple-shaped emoji.
Meanwhile in China: "A KFC branch in China has reinvented itself as a shrine to the Chinese Communist hero Lei Feng, a quasi-mythical figure lauded by Chairman Mao Zedong," CNN reports. (Unsurprisingly, perhaps, KFC China did not respond to CNN's request for comment.)
Ads of the day: For International Women's Day, Budweiser is revisiting some of its vintage ads and updating them to strip out the sexism, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. One '60s print ad showed a woman at the stove as her husband arrived home from work. The copy told men to "loosen your tie and enjoy your Budweiser." The revised ad has the same vintage style as the old one, but the woman's enjoying the beer herself -- with no husband in sight. Check out the before-and-afters here.
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