Happy New Year and new decade: Thursday Wake-Up Call
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It’s 2020, but don’t take our word for it
Let’s hear it from the authority, Barbara Walters, who uttered the phrase for decades when she anchored ABC’s prime time news magazine. For its clumsily named “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” broadcast, ABC stitched together a compilation of Walters ringing in the new decade. And now that it’s a new year, of course, it’s time to start making and breaking those holiday resolutions. Those of you who binge-watched all those Hallmark holiday movies have been inundated with ads in heavy rotation for customized weight loss programs from the likes of WW, (hint: bread is back!) Nutrisystem and more. Even Peleton seems to have given up body shaming with a commercial that features a dad pedaling (and singing) enthusiastically to music while his son and dog hold their ears.
How dry I am (sort of)
In recent years, Dry January has been a growing tradition that alcohol marketers have embraced. But Miller64 is taking a more, um, moderate approach this year. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz points out that MillerCoors data found “that 30 percent of people who tried to stay sober for the whole month fell short, and the average time it took to fall off the wagon was just seven days.” So the company’s new ad campaign from DDB Chicago featuring “Succession” actor Nicholas Braun urges people to celebrate a “dry-ish” January rather than abstaining altogether. (For those who are up for a dual approach there is always Red Lobster’s Lobster Claw Bloody Mary, which Today describes as “made with a chilled Maine lobster claw, jumbo shrimp, Cheddar Bay Biscuit, lime wedge and green olive.” It’s available until February 2.)
Windy City gets weed (sort of)
Good news for Chicagoans trading in booze for pot: Marijuana is legal in the city as of yesterday. The bad news, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, is that there won’t be enough to go around. Timing is a big part of the issue: “It's mostly a consequence of Illinois' slow rollout of medical marijuana and its mad rush to begin recreational sales—just six months after the law was signed,” the publication writes. “Growing weed takes time, about three months. Adding a new facility to grow it takes six months. Factor in the bureaucracy of planning and permitting, and the calendar wins out.” Crain’s expects supply won’t meet demand until March or as late as July. Yesterday, the publication sent out an alert saying stores were swamped. Don't say they didn't warn you.
The last goodbye
While most marketers are hard at work on the Super Bowl, Volkswagen of America focused its ad fireworks on New Year’s Eve with a sendoff to its iconic Beetle. The carmaker’s logo was front and center during the countdown in Times Square and the company aired a no-holds barred animated ad that featured Kevin Bacon, Andy Warhol and Andy Cohen and set to a choir’s rendition of the Beatles song “Let It Be.” Entitled “The Last Mile,” the commercial references the car’s “outsize role in pop culture,” writes Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz, even referencing famed DDB ads such as “Lemon” as it depicts a man who grows old with the Beetle. Leo Permutico, co-founder and co-chief creative officer at Johannes Leonardo, which created the commercial, told Schultz that “when a car is this ingrained in the culture, it’s everyone’s goodbye.”
Pizza, pizza everywhere
Eagle-eyed viewers of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” watched host Ryan Seacrest scarf down what appeared to be a Domino’s pizza while on air. The New York Post reported that a Times Square area pizza operator was selling hot pies to crowds gathered in the ball-dropping bullpen for $30 each. And speaking of pizza, Cincinnati.com informs us that Papa John’s fallen founder John Schnatter has made an Instagram vow to eat 50 pizzas in 30 days as part of his New Year’s resolution. The paper says that “the pledge is a jump from his previous pizza binge, in which he claimed to have eaten over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days.” Schnatter claims the taste of Papa John’s pizza has just not been the same since he left the board in March.
Facing the music
A consortium led by Chinese internet giant Tencent has purchased 10 percent of Universal Music Group from Vivendi for $3.36 billion, giving it access to a catalog that includes Ariana Grande, Drake, Queen and the aforementioned Beatles. Quoting Shawn Yang, managing director of research firm Blue Lotus Capital Advisers, The Wall Street Journal says that with the investment “Tencent is trying to defend its music-streaming business from the rising threat of blockbuster short-video app TikTok, which has increasing influence over the music industry by turning little-known musicians into viral sensations.” But there is still suspicion lingering around TikTok, with the U.S. Army now becoming the second branch of the military after the Navy to ban its use, calling it a security threat.
David Stern dies
Former National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, who is credited with fueling the league's marketing growth, passed away January 1 at age 77. Stern "launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world," current NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN.com. "Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand—making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation."
CES update: Those of you getting ready to hit the ground at CES on January 7 should be relieved to hear that Elon Musk has tweeted that his Boring Co.’s commercial tunnel planned to go from convention center to strip, should be operational … for next year’s CES.
A new American Girl: Mattel announced its 2020 American Girl of the Year doll is named Joss Kendrick, and is described as "a fierce athlete born with hearing loss and a passion for surfing."
Election surge: Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg spent $155.3 million on political ads last year according to, well, Bloomberg News, which says the campaign has made seven-figure purchases of air time in markets in California, New York, Texas, Illinois and Florida. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders says he will raise more than $1 billion if he’s the Democratic nominee, and South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigeg has raised $24.7 million in the fourth quarter. For Ad Age’s exhaustive coverage of who’s spending what in the election, make sure to bookmark our ongoing Campaign Trail series.
Jobs uptick: “Since agency employment tumbled with the ad business in the Great Recession a decade ago shops have scored a great rebound in jobs,” writes Ad Age’s Bradley Johnson, who says U.S. shops now have 206,100 employees, up 28 percent from early 2010. There’s a caveat, however: the job growth spurt may be over. Read his full analysis here. Also, why not resolve to subscribe to Ad Age Datacenter for exclusive data and analysis about marketers, brands and agencies?
It's not too late: This might also be a good time to remind shops the final deadline for the Ad Age A-List and Creativity Awards is January 7. You can still enter here.
Remember, you promised not to procrastinate in 2020.