On its 25th birthday, Amazon tops U.S. ad spending, while Twitter's blue checks go bust: Thursday Wake-Up Call
Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.
Amazon is 25 years old today, and in the quarter-century since its founding, the company's advertising spending has ballooned to eclipse every other company in the country. In 2019, Amazon spent $11 billion on ads and promotion—$21,000 every minute, according to Ad Age’s Leading National Advertisers 2020 report. And it wasn’t alone.
“The top 200 U.S. advertisers increased ad and marketing services spending a robust 4.6 percent in 2019 to a record $175 billion, the capstone to a decade of advertising growth,” writes Bradley Johnson of the Ad Age Datacenter. But that’s as good as it’s going to get for a while. Growth stalled when the coronavirus pandemic ground the economy to a halt, and the forecast is grim.
“WPP’s GroupM expects 2020 U.S. media ad revenue to tumble 12.9 percent (excluding political advertising),” Johnson writes. “GroupM forecasts that spending in 2021 will grow by 4.2 percent (excluding political ads). But it likely will be some years before U.S. ad spending breaks the record set in 2019.”
Looks like Trump vs. Biden will be the main event for the rest of the year. Strap in, swing states—dark money is incoming.
On Wednesday, a Bitcoin hack hit the Twitter accounts of tech brands like Apple, personalities like Elon Musk and Bill Gates, and high-level Democrats such as Joe Biden and Barack Obama. When Twitter couldn’t get the situation under control quickly, it blocked all verified “blue-check mark” accounts from sending messages, including those of many brands, celebrities and the very journalists covering the hack.
"Twitter notified those accounts that they could not tweet because their activity set off its spam detection systems,” writes Ad Age’s Garett Sloane. After about three hours, most verified accounts had been restored.
The initial hack was a simple scam, offering to double any Bitcoin sent to a digital wallet as a gesture of community solidarity or generosity due to COVID-19. But the breadth of the security breach is staggering, affecting a former U.S. president and a U.S. presidential candidate; wealthy magnates like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett; musicians like Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa; celebrities like Kim Kardashian; and corporate accounts like Uber’s. The Apple message was the first-ever non-ad tweet sent by the tech company’s account.
The Trump administration is doubling down on its support of Goya Foods, the bean brand whose CEO sparked a boycott with his unabashed praise for the president. Ivanka Trump, first daughter and presidential advisor, tweeted a photo of herself on Tuesday holding a can of Goya black beans in a seeming endorsement of the product, which is a violation of government ethics rules.
Not to be outdone, on Wednesday afternoon President Trump posed with an array of Goya packages in the Oval Office (Is there a recipe that calls for kidney beans, hominy, coconut milk, adobo and chocolate wafers?) in a photo posted to Instagram that echoes the infamous “I love Hispanics!” taco bowl tweet from Cinco de Mayo 2016.
For its part, Goya isn’t backing down, and CEO Robert Unanue has stood by his support of the president despite the backlash. Whether the boycott, or a conservative attempt to boost sales with a buycott, will affect the company’s bottom line remains to be seen. The U.S. is already in the midst of a bean shortage due to a small 2019 harvest and pandemic hoarding.
John Matejczyk, whose consonant-heavy surname led to the phonetic moniker of Muh-Tay-Zik / Hof-Fer, the San Francisco agency he co-founded, is stepping down from his roles as CEO and chief creative officer.
“Matejczyk will ‘move away from his day-to-day leadership position into a non-executive chairman role through the end of 2020, before transitioning out of the advertising side of the industry,’” writes Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. He is putting a reel together so he can direct, he adds a bit sheepishly—Matejczyk has shot some of the agency's work for clients.
Matejczyk founded the shop in 2008, two years before partner and Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hofherr joined and added his name to the door. London-based VCCP acquired it in 2016, prompting a short-lived named change that wasn’t any easier to pronounce. Sources tell Ad Age, “there has been tension between Matejczyk and Hofherr for the past few years over their different styles of managing the business” and that they “have been drifting away from each other,” though Matejczyk calls that narrative “absurd.”
Be on the lookout for a new byline. Dan Peres, who spent 15 years as editor-in-chief of Condé Nast men’s magazine Details, has been named the new editor-in-chief at Ad Age. “The brand and its journalists have always represented the gold standard, and I look forward to working with the talented editors and reporters to define what’s next for Ad Age,” he says. “The publication has such a rich history, and I’m excited to be a part of its future.”
Peres will lead print, digital, social, video and podcasts, steering the editorial direction of the 90-year-old brand in a time when it has become clear that publications have a responsibility to both respect and reflect their readership. He will also oversee the new offerings and initiatives that Ad Age is building out in a mercurial media landscape, including a slate of virtual events, election coverage from the Ad Age Datacenter, the company’s custom content studio, and internal and external diversity and inclusion efforts.
Now sober, Peres is also the author of the addiction memoir “As Needed for Pain,” a tale of excesses during his time at Details that could easily have been set in many an agency’s boardroom, if Fishbowl is to be believed.
This one time, at brand camp: Kids are stuck at home, and companies are happy to provide entertainment in the form of virtual camp. “Mostly, they see an opportunity to give parents a much-needed break. For brands like The North Face and Girl Scouts, the idea aligns perfectly with their brands,” writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing. “Others, including Shake Shack and Walmart, want a spot at the campfire.”
Face/On: Masks haven’t been great for lipstick brands and facial recognition tech, but they've been a boon for underage drinking, according to the New York Post. After all, what better way to hide a baby face than a bodega-sourced KN95? Some TikTok and Twitter users are also encouraging under-21s to try wearing disguises to fool liquor store employees. It looks like an effective alternative to having an older sibling.
Three thousand's a crowd: Florida is too hot for the Association of National Advertisers. Spiking coronavirus numbers cemented the ANA’s decision to take the 2020 Masters of Marketing Conference virtual. The event typically draws more than 3,000 attendees to Orlando, who can now all avoid the Disney World tourists and NBA and MLS players headed to central Florida, despite the danger.
That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.
From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here.
Subscribers make the difference. Individual, group and corporate subscriptions are available—including access to our Ad Age Datacenter. Find options at AdAge.com/membership.