Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. There are just seven days to go until Ad Age Next, our conference on the future of marketing and tech. In New York next Tuesday and Wednesday, we'll be talking about AI, esports and, yes, cannabis. Learn all about it here.
What people are talking about today
Go check out Google's U.S. homepage: The search giant's logo has been temporarily replaced by the message "Go Vote." Patagonia, meanwhile, is shutting down its shops today so employees can cast their midterms ballots. Today is Election Day "and brands are doing their best to make sure consumers are aware of it," Adrianne Pasquarelli writes in Ad Age. To quote the immortal words of Potbelly's Twitter account: "You get to help decide the future of this country which is way more important than a free sandwich so VOTE PRETTY PLEASE."
Backlash (and a backstory)
CNN refused to air a campaign ad from President Trump's re-election committee, calling it "racist." Fox News and NBC ran the spot, then pulled it. (Read Ad Age's Simon Dumenco's take on it, headlined "Trump Releases 'sickening' and factually incorrect campaign ad" here.) The ad, which included footage of a caravan of migrants seeking asylum, played up fears about undocumented immigrants from Latin America. Facebook also reportedly took action to prevent the ad from being promoted through paid distribution, Bloomberg News writes.
There's a backstory to the spot, CNN reports. Last week, the Trump campaign released a different closing message for the midterms; that ad was much more subdued and it targeted suburban women with a message about building a strong economy for their children. But Trump "hated it," one source told CNN. "Instead, [Trump] insisted to aides that his closing argument for the midterm elections would be a hardline anti-immigration message to fire up his core supporters," CNN reported, citing two Republican officials familiar with the matter.
Last-minute appearance: Fox News had "insisted Sean Hannity would not be part of ... Trump's last midterm election rally Monday, but Trump called on Hannity to join him onstage anyway," The Associated Press reports.
Last-minute ad: Michael Bloomberg, the media mogul and former New York City mayor, is spending a few million dollars urging people to "vote Democratic." The Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat says "we must send a signal to Republicans in Washington that they have failed to lead." Read more by Ad Age's Dumenco.
A Wall Street Journal story about Under Armour's company culture has an opening that might stop you in your tracks:
"Under Armour Inc. employees received an email earlier this year that upended a longstanding company practice: They could no longer charge visits to strip clubs on their corporate cards."
The report, worth reading in full, details other practices that reportedly made women employees feel uncomfortable; one exec who was briefly employed at the company described it as "culturally anemic." The sportswear brand's CEO told The Journal in a statement that the company is undergoing a cultural transformation: "We can and will do better."
Here we go again
This is what we know so far about February's Super Bowl: There will be ads for car mats and avocados. Again. WeatherTech, maker of the former, just became the first brand to confirm it will appear. Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes that this will mark the sixth consecutive showing for WeatherTech, known for its patriotic messaging.
Avocados from Mexico also announced it would be back in the Super Bowl, making it the brand's fifth appearance. Its plans include a 30-second spot, Jessica Wohl writes. And here's a factoid for you: The brand says that Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day for avocado consumption in the U.S. Which must be all the guac and chips.
HQ2 X 2: Amazon has been looking for a second headquarters beyond its home base of Seattle, but now The Wall Street Journal reports that it will open new offices in two different cities instead. The Journal says Amazon's move will "ease potential issues with housing, transit and other areas where adding tens of thousands of workers could cause problems."
Goodbye: Quick, off the top of your head, what is Oath? The world has barely gotten used to the Oath brand name, created last year by Verizon as an umbrella name to host Yahoo and AOL, and it's already being changed to Verizon Media Group.
Ho ho ho: "The National Retail Federation predicts that sales in November and December will increase as much as 4.8 percent, to a possible $720.9 billion, over the same period last year," Adrianne Pasquarelli writes in Ad Age. And ad expenditures may rise too.
The future of ads: Roku CEO Anthony Wood sees opportunities for ads that tell a story like a serial drama does: "Ads are one-to-one targeted so they can be sequenced. We can say, 'OK, this person has seen ad one so let's show them the second and third ads in the series.'" Read Wood's full interview with Ad Age's Poggi.
Brand of the day: At 165 years old, how has Levi's maintained its cool? Ad Age's Pasquarelli takes a deep dive into the brand's heritage and marketing. "When you work in a trendy business like fashion and apparel, you can get afraid of not being cool and chase it in an inauthentic way," Jen Sey, senior VP and CMO at Levi Strauss, tells Pasquarelli. "We did some of that and it didn't resonate with consumers."
Ad of the day: If you've watched too many election ads over the last few days, perhaps the antidote is Macy's sweet, tugging-on-the-heartstrings tale of an astronaut separated from her young daughter during the holidays. As a present, the daughter gifts her mom a wrapped-up snow globe to open in space, along with a surprise. Check out the spot here on Ad Age, and read more by Pasquarelli.