Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Sorrell acquires MediaMonks, Kroll out at MillerCoors and more

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Victor Knaap, MediaMonks CEO (l.), and Wesley ter Haar, COO
Victor Knaap, MediaMonks CEO (l.), and Wesley ter Haar, COO Credit: MediaMonks

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: He's done it: Martin Sorrell has succeeded in his bid to buy Dutch digital production company MediaMonks.
The acquisition for an undisclosed sum by Sorrell's S4 Capital was confirmed early this morning in an announcement to the London Stock Exchange. Shareholders of MediaMonks, which has revenues of $129 million, will receive cash and shares in S4 Capital. S4 describes the deal as a "merger" and says its objective is to "provide clients with digital services, which are agile, efficient, and of premium creative quality."
In a statement from MediaMonks (in which Sorrell is described as a "Senior Monk"), Sorrell states: "This represents a significant step in building a new age, new era, digital agency platform for clients. MediaMonks' roots are totally in new media, and data, content and technology. Our next moves will be to build this platform further and to add meaningful data analytics and digital media buying. The company will be a unitary one with MediaMonks as its core."
Victor Knaap, CEO of MediaMonks, adds: "I'm privileged to be shaping the future of the creative industry alongside a man with an unprecedented reputation for building successful businesses. We're not selling out, we're buying in."
Sorrell fought off competition from his former firm, WPP, to acquire the company. We'll have to wait to see whether WPP will carry out its threat, made last week, to strip Sorrell of his WPP exit payoff.

CMO departs MillerCoors
MillerCoors has parted ways with Chief Marketing Officer David Kroll, reports Ad Age's E.J. Schultz. The decision comes amid declining market share for the maker of Miller Lite and Coors Light, which has recently underperformed its larger competitor, Anheuser-Busch InBev, according to Nielsen data cited by Beer Marketer's Insights.
In an internal memo shared with Ad Age, MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley states: "My immediate priority is to appoint a CMO who will advance our marketing efforts, working decisively and taking bold action to optimize our brand portfolio, with an urgent focus on turning around Coors Light's performance and capturing more growth in above premium."
As Schultz points out, the CMO change could put pressure on MDC Partners-owned 72andSunny, which won the Coors Light account in late 2015 in one of Kroll's first big agency moves.

Stein out at Laundry Service
Jason Stein, founder of Laundry Service, has left the company amid a leadership shakeup at the agency, which was acquired by sports sponsorship and management powerhouse Wasserman in 2015, reports Ad Age's Megan Graham.
Laundry Service and its media company and content studio Cycle have also laid off 10 percent of their staff, its parent company confirmed. The companies will now be led by Chief Operating Officer Jordan Fox, Managing Director Amy Hellickson and CMO Mike Mikho.

Just briefly:
Uber scooters? Uber is investing in electric scooter rental company Lime as part of a $335 million financing round, Bloomberg News reports. Lime's service lets customers rent scooters scattered around cities and leave them on the sidewalk for the next person to pick up. Uber plans to promote Lime, which says its service is available in more than 70 markets in the U.S. and Europe, in its mobile application and slap its logo on the scooters, executives from the two companies say.

Ad Age Next: Tickets are available now for Ad Age Next, taking place Nov. 13-14 in Manhattan. Ad Age's biggest annual event will feature speakers from a variety of industries on areas ranging from AI, creativity, transportation, privacy, beauty, money, drugs and, one week after the midterm elections, government. Plus, a live experience, Next: Titans, will have six startup companies from various industries pitching to industry leaders for funding. Book ahead here.

Bake sale: J. M. Smucker Co. is selling its U.S. baking business to Brynwood Partners for $375 million, reports Ad Age's Jessica Wohl. The deal includes baking products sold under brand names including Pillsbury, Martha White, Hungry Jack, White Lily and Jim Dandy, leaving the marketer free to sharpen its focus on coffee, snacks and pet food.

Straws out at Starbucks: Starbucks has decided to do away with plastic straws by 2020 over evidence that they damage the environment. As Ad Age's Megan Mowery reports, its straws will be replaced by sippy cup-like lids that are also plastic, but which Starbucks says are more easily recyclable.

Creativity pick of the day: In its latest iPhone X ad, Apple dramatizes a moment we've probably all experienced: the nightmarish panic that ensues when you can't remember an online password. Filmed in almost Hitchcockian style by veteran director Ringan Ledwidge, the spot imagines the protagonist as a contestant in a high stakes game show, under pressure to remember the password as the clock ticks down. Eventually he looks down to his iPhone X, where its Face ID automatically unlocks his app and he can finally breathe easy. Watch it here.

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