Your Tuesday Wake-Up Call: WPP Lowers Expectations, Again. Plus, the End of the Sprint & T-Mobile Romance?
Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: WPP is lowering expectations for its 2017 performance, again. The world's largest agency company predicts that full-year like-for-like net sales growth will be "broadly flat." Previously WPP had forecast growth of zero to 1 percent. And before that, it was expecting growth of 2 percent. WPP says 2017 has brought "top-line growth slowing across the industry." It blames cost-cutting by clients, especially consumer goods companies, but also by the auto and pharmaceutical industries. In the third quarter, like-for-like net sales were down 1.1 percent. If you're looking for a bright side here, there's this: WPP shares dipped only about one percentage point Tuesday. So far this year, the stock is down 28 percent.
He loves me, he loves me not
Sprint Corp. is done wooing T-Mobile US, The Wall Street Journal says. Sprint's Japanese parent company, SoftBank Group Corp., has decided to stop trying to merge the No. 3 and 4 U.S. mobile carriers, because SoftBank's founder is "worried about giving up too much control in the potential transaction," the Journal says. Also, the parties couldn't agree on how much Sprint shares are worth. This is the second time in a few years that efforts to pair the two up have fallen through. And who knows if it's really the end: The Journal says talks might restart later. This whole thing is starting to feel like a corporate soap opera.
We regret to inform you
Content spread by Russian government-linked trolls had a much bigger impact online and on social media during the 2016 U.S. election than Silicon Valley initially let on. Numbers leaked out ahead of Google, Facebook and Twitter's testimony before a Senate panel today. Facebook says 29 million people were shown content from Russia's Internet Research Agency, according to Bloomberg News. But there's more:
"Those posts, after they were liked, shared and commented on, traveled to the news feeds of approximately 126 million people at some point over a two-year period, (the general counsel's) testimony states. That's equivalent to about 40 percent of the U.S. population."
Facebook had previously disclosed that Russia-linked ad messages had reached about 10 million people. And remember way back when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it was "a pretty crazy idea" that fake news influenced the election? He has since said he regrets that comment.
Watch: The testimony before the Senate judiciary subcommittee will be streamed at 2:30 p.m. E.T. right here, on C-SPAN's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, in China: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has been in China, along with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Both are on an advisory board at Tsinghua University business school in Beijing, where they also met Chinese President Xi Jinping. Both do a lot to woo China – Cook because it's a huge market for Apple, and Zuckerberg because Facebook is shut out there.
Shiny and new
Veterans of 180LA, Ideo and Argonaut are starting up a new San Francisco-based agency called TBD, as Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz reports. She notes that there have been a burst of agency startups lately, many focusing on solutions. What's going on? TBD co-founder Jordan Warren tells Diaz: "New agencies are en vogue because clients are not getting senior-level leadership."
Don't be so paranoid: Do you ever have the feeling Facebook is listening to you through your mic and serving you ads based on conversations? That's not actually happening, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports.
People you should know: Check out two industry profiles worth reading today. Jason Stein talked to Ad Age's Lindsay Stein about his shop Laundry Service, which has Nike as a client; he sees his competition as "not so much the BBDOs, but BuzzFeed, Vice, The New York Times and 'anyone who does high-quality, high-volume content.'" And Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz interviewed Guy Shelmerdine about the inspiration for his VR production company Dark Corner – it involves a creepy clown, and it's a fitting tale for Halloween.
Whoosh: NBC predicts that ad revenue for the 2018 Winter Olympics will surpass the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi by a low double-digit percentage, Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi reports.
Mother, part 2: One of Mother's co-founders, Stef Calcraft, is taking a newly created role as executive chairman for UK and Ireland at Dentsu Aegis Network.
Cheesy: In case you missed it, a debate has been raging online about the proper placement of the cheese slice in burger emoji. Google's chief executive, Sundar Pichai, even weighed in.
Front page of the day: Courtesy of the New York Daily News. Happy Halloween.