Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Ad Age A-List Is Out, Facebook Tweet Favors Trump Narrative and More

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Wieden & Kennedy's co-global chief creative officers Colleen DeCourcy and Susan Hoffman
Wieden & Kennedy's co-global chief creative officers Colleen DeCourcy and Susan Hoffman Credit: Robyn Twomey for Ad Age.

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related 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

If you went off the grid on Presidents Day, the big news from Ad Age is A-List 2018 is out, and Wieden & Kennedy is our Agency of the Year.

W&K, based in Portland, Oregon, landed 19 new clients in the U.S. in 2017, fueling $35 million in new revenue. Its Colonel Sanders work for KFC continued to inject new energy into its brand icon, and included the first woman celebrity to don the white beard, while W&K New York had the best financial year in its 23-year history, it said, winning clients including The Atlantic and Fox Sports, and shooting the "dilly dilly" catchphrase straight into popular culture for Bud Light. Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes, "The shop didn't just rock the boat in 2017, it damn near tipped it over."

Other winners in the A-List include David Miami as Agency Innovator of the Year, BBH Singapore as International Agency of the Year, Somesuch as Production Company of the Year, Spotify as In-House Agency of the Year and Margaret Johnson as Agency Executive of the Year. See the full A-List here.

KF, but no C
The fast-food chain's most recent U.K. advertising slogan, from Mother London, is "The Whole Chicken, and Nothing but the Chicken." But KFC had everything but the chicken when it ran out of poultry and the chain was forced to temporarily close around some 600 of its 900 U.K. outlets on Monday after delivery problems (the number varies depending on the news source).

KFC was quick to pin the blame squarely on DHL. A week ago, the chain switched its delivery contract to the company, which blamed "operational issues" for the supply disruption. Meanwhile, KFC kept customers updated on its website, which also pointed them to the nearest open outlet, and took to Twitter with some humor: "The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants," it tweeted. Later, with a few restaurants having reopened, it updated this with another tweet: "Some chickens are now crossing the road, while others are waiting at the pelican crossing."

Facebook gets defensive on Mueller, and Trump is delighted

As the Robert Mueller indictment news was being digested, one Facebook exec started getting on the defensive—inadvertently helping Trump sell his message of non-collusion. As the New York Times reports, in a series of tweets, Facebook's VP of Advertising Rob Goldman said: "Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal." He added: "The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn't align with the main media narrative of Tump [sic] and the election."

Other Facebook execs, including Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, retweeted Goldman. However, soon Trump himself was retweeting Goldman as evidence of non-collusion. Facebook later had to walk back Goldman's tweets, with Joel Kaplan, Facebook's vice president of global policy, saying in a statement: "The special counsel has issued its indictments, and nothing we found contradicts their conclusions. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong."

Pandora offers programmatic audio ads

Pandora is going after rivals Spotify and iHeart Radio with the launch of programmatic audio ads. As Ad Age's George Slefo writes, it announced Tuesday that it will now offer its audio inventory programmatically through platforms such as MediaMath, The Trade Desk and AdsWizz. While Pandora is later to the party than its two biggest competitors, it claims it can reach more users. Volkswagen is among "six or 10" launch partners, Pandora says.

McConaughey hears the call of Carl's

Matthew McConaughey is becoming a prolific pitchman. The Oscar-winning actor, who appears in Lincoln commercials and both stars in and directs ads for Wild Turkey, is the new voice of Carl's Jr., as AdAge's Jessica Wohl writes. CKE picked Havas as its creative agency of record just two weeks ago and the agency's first work for the fast feeder debuted Monday. Meanwhile, McConaughey will be joined by Serena Wililams in promoting Lincoln, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports, with the tennis star appearing in social ads for the Navigator SUV.

Just briefly

Bud bows out of Times Square: It's the end of an era for the two 90-foot-tall Budweiser vinyl ads in Times Square, reports The New York Post. After nearly 85 years on the building at 1600 Broadway, sign owner Sherwood Outdoor plans to replace it with larger LED displays on May 1. The identity of the brand taking its place is as yet undisclosed, but Sherwood hints it will be "an iconic advertiser from the past," the Post says.

Priest moves on: Ben Priest, co-founder and chief creative officer at Adam&Eve/DDB, is leaving the award-winning London agency. Priest is the second of the four co-founder to depart the shop, following Jon Forsyth a year ago, shortly after the founders completed their earn-out from Omnicom. Fellow founders James Murphy and David Golding are staying on board for now.

Black Panther is a musical hit too: Not only is it top of the box office, but "Black Panther" is topping the album charts too. The Marvel Studios superhero movie's soundtrack, which features Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd, SZA, Khalid and James Blake, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, launching with 154,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 15, according to Nielsen Music.

Fox targets "superfans": Fox is launching a subscription streaming service called Fox Nation, reports The New York Times. Aimed at "superfans," it will launch by the end of the year and focus on right-wing commentary and original shows.

Creativity Pick of the Day: Budweiser's Chinese New Year ad, from Anomaly Shanghai, is about a young woman who decides to run a marathon in a faraway desert instead of spending the holiday with her family. While she feels she doesn't have much to say to her parents, there's a twist at the end, as Ad Age's Angela Doland reports. The ad defies stereotypes by having a female lead. See the spot here.

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