Tuesday Wake-Up Call: A fake Twitter ad, a Miss America feud and other news to know today

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This is not really a Twitter PSA.
This is not really a Twitter PSA. Credit: YouTube

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app. What people are talking about today: A fake public service announcement duped some people into believing it was a real campaign from Twitter. The faux campaign was called "Don't believe every tweet," and it urged people to be skeptical about online misinformation. The package included a website, a message purporting to be from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and comedic videos featuring an "expert" spouting the kind of nonsense you shouldn't believe on social media. The tone and branding in Twitter's signature blue were pretty convincing, though there were clues it was bogus – Dorsey's message included the phrase "because, duh." The Verge confirmed it was fake.
So who was behind the stunt? Variety reports that it was made by a TV writer looking to promote himself. Nathan Gotsch came up with the idea because of the controversy around how Twitter has dealt with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. "As loud as the dialogue had gotten, I thought we were missing a voice reminding us that fake news and conspiracy theories only make an impact when we mindlessly believe what we see online," Gotsch told Variety. Note how complicated this is getting – someone made a fake PSA about the real problem of fake information.
On a related note: In London, a Facebook ad campaign declares that "fake news is not our friend." Business Insider reports that protesters defaced the posters to turn them into a critique of Facebook. Such as, "Fake news is not our friend, it's a great revenue source." Read more about it here.

PepsiCo Inc. says it will pay $3.2 billion to buy SodaStream International, which makes devices that let people carbonate water at home. Which is interesting, because SodaStream has critiqued cola in its marketing, casting itself as a healthier, eco-friendly alternative to Big Soda. As Ad Age's Jessica Wohl writes, the SodaStream web site features trainer Jillian Michaels, who tells viewers to "stop your addiction to sugary soda." Now, though, the SodaStream CEO says he was "honored to be chosen" by PepsiCo, as Wohl writes. As consumers veer away from sugary beverages, PepsiCo has been diversifying into healthier fare, and this is part of that push.

There's a feud engulfing the Miss America pageant, just a few weeks before the show is set to air Sept. 9 on ABC. The current holder of the title, Cara Mund, has complained about how Miss America CEO Regina Hopper and chair Gretchen Carlson treated her; they "silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis," Mund wrote, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Now 19 former Miss Americas are asking for Hopper and Carlson to step down, the report says. Carlson, the former Fox News host and Miss America 1989, responded with a statement on Twitter saying she had never bullied Mund, though in the same letter she also blamed Mund for the loss of $75,000 in scholarship money for the organization. Carlson's statement sparked some pushback (another former Miss America, Kate Shindle, tweeted that Carlson's statement was "reckless.")
Are you following all this? Basically, this was supposed to be a year of female empowerment for the pageant; it's the first of the #MeToo era and the first without a swimsuit competition, which was canceled following a scandal over sexist emails at the organization. The last thing the pageant needs is more drama.
Some Miss America data, courtesy of Ad Age's Anthony Crupi: Miss America viewership has been declining; last year 5.35 million viewers watched, down from 7.08 million in 2013, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. The median age of viewers last year was 59.6 years old. And the highest-rated Miss America pageant was back in 1961, when John F. Kennedy was president and the Super Bowl didn't exist yet.

What we're watching
Have you seen the video from Havas, the one with the poop emojis? No? Here's how Ad Age's Megan Graham explains it:

"The video, which Havas says was only intended for internal use, popped up on industry gossip app Fishbowl and prompted plenty of commentary. In part that's because Havas North America creative leaders call Leo Burnett, FCB and BBDO 'shitty agencies'—as poop emojis (with accompanying sound effects) pop up on the screen. It says the shop's true competition is 'kids with iPhones and millions of YouTube followers.'"

Havas Chief Creative Officer and Chairman Jason Peterson told Graham the video was made for internal use to set his agency apart from other shops, which have "hot-air executives and chairmen that are so far removed from what is going on. For us, creative isn't a department in the agency. We're a creative agency." Other agencies have thoughts about being called "shitty," of course.
ICYM: Last year, Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker interviewed the outspoken Peterson and described him as "advertising's enfant terrible;" it's an entertaining read that includes a lot of f-bombs ("Advertising right now is in this creative fucking nowhere's land.")

Just briefly:
Next at WPP?:
Mark Read, the former strategy and digital chief to WPP founder Martin Sorrell, "is the favored candidate internally to run the world's largest advertising group," Bloomberg News says.

Moving on: Kasha Cacy, U.S. CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned media agency UM, has been tapped as global CEO of marketing solutions company Engine, Megan Graham writes in Ad Age.

VMAs: Madonna gave a tribute to the late singer Aretha Franklin at the MTV VMAs, but some Twitter commenters thought the speech was too much about Madonna and too little about Aretha. Read about it in People.

Big: "CBS Corporation could be forced to pay CEO Les Moonves upwards of $200 million if he leaves before the end of his contract in 2021," CBS News reports. The company's board is investigating claims of sexual harassment against him.

'Be best': Social media "can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly," First Lady Melania Trump said during an event on cyberbullying. Meanwhile, President Trump went on a Twitter storm, calling the former CIA director a "hack," among other insults. A CNN analysis asks, "Is Melania Trump trolling her husband with her anti-bullying agenda?"

Ad of the day: Amazon Music has a trippy new ad featuring disembodied lips singing in outer space to a Kendrick Lamar and SZA tune. The mouths soar, meteor-like, "belting out 'All the Stars' before finally burning up on reentry, leaving behind only an Amazon logo,'" I-Hsien Sherwood writes. The spot is by Wieden & Kennedy. Watch it here.

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