Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Facebook reportedly debated a ban on political ads, Paul Allen dies

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Credit: Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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: Stephen Colbert joined in the outpouring of Sears nostalgia after the retailer filed for bankruptcy protection. "I'm going to miss Sears," the host of CBS' "The Late Show" tweeted. "Especially on those days when you just want to buy a suit, a carpet, an air conditioner, a lawn mower, a foundation garment, an air hockey table and a tractor."
Also: The Chicago Tribune has a timeline of Sears' rise and fall that includes some fantastic retro ads, from a 1925 ad for calfskin oxfords ($3.98) to a 1975 promo for Atari's $99.95 ping pong-like game, Pong. ("Electric fun you play on your TV!")

Banning all political ads?
With three weeks to go before the U.S. midterm elections, Facebook says it's cracking down more on efforts at voter suppression on its platform. While it already banned content giving incorrect information about when or where to vote, now Facebook says it also won't allow "misrepresentations about how to vote, such as claims that you can vote by text message." Facebook has been under fire for misinformation that spread on its platform during the 2016 U.S. presidential race. And Reuters has some intriguing information about Facebook's discussions on how to handle the hot-button issue of political advertising:

"Months ago, senior Facebook executives briefly debated banning all political ads, which produce less than 5 percent of the company's revenue, sources said. The company rejected that because product managers were loath to leave advertising dollars on the table and policy staffers argued that blocking political ads would favor incumbents and wealthy campaigners who can better afford television and print ads."

It didn't happen, but it's interesting that Facebook even considered such a radical move.

New scrutiny
Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund has poured billions of dollars into tech companies from Uber to Magic Leap, the AR startup. As CNN writes, "now those investments are coming under scrutiny as the kingdom faces growing isolation in the business world over the unexplained disappearance of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi." The investments reach into the media sector too. Talent and events company Endeavor is weighing whether to pull out of a $400 million deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, CNN reports. The Hollywood Reporter goes further, saying that Endeavor will actually withdraw from the deal. Penske Media, owner of publications including Variety, Deadline and Women's Wear Daily, got a $200 million investment from the fund this year. It has declined to comment on whether it might rethink the investment, TheWrap writes. When the funding was announced in February, Penske called it "a significant milestone."
Also: Axios has a tally of which business execs and leaders are snubbing Saudi Arabia's "Davos in the Desert" conference, officially known as the Future Investment Initiative. Jamie Dimon of JPMorganChase isn't going – but U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen -- philanthropist, investor and owner of pro sports teams -- has died, Bloomberg News reports. He was 65. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella paid Allen tribute: "in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world." Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Allen, said he was heartbroken. Allen "was fond of saying, 'If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.' That's the kind of person he was," Gates wrote in a statement released to media.

Just briefly:
Mini: Palm (remember Palm?) is making a comeback with a small gadget designed to be a second phone for when you don't want to lug your larger device around. NBA star Stephan Curry is an endorser. Read more from Bloomberg News.

Shuffle: "NBC Universal is rejiggering its ad sales team, handing the day-to-day sales operations to Laura Molen and Mark Marshall," Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi writes. "This will free up Linda Yaccarino, who remains chairman of advertising and partnerships, to focus more on overall strategy and technology development."

America First: The New York Post reports that Tribune Media and its 42 TV stations are "expected to get a buyout bid from Tom Hicks Jr., the Texas-based chair of America First, a super PAC that's aligned with (President) Trump."

'Have you driven a Ford … lately?': Now that Ford has chosen Omnicom's BBDO as its lead creative agency, Automotive News looks back at Ford's long relationship with WPP. (Check out the 1960s Ford Falcon TV ad featuring Charlie Brown and other characters from "The Peanuts.")

Quote of the day: At the Wired25 summit, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom talked about leaving Facebook: "No one ever leaves a job because everything's awesome."

Ad of the day: Spare a moment to watch a spot from Australia that depicts Jesus dying on the cross while two soldiers try to convince him to donate his organs. (Yes, seriously.) The wisecracking soldiers also whip out an anachronistic phone and take a selfie with him; Jesus suggests they post it with the hashtag "#blessed." It's an ad encouraging people to sign up to be organ donors. And yes, it's certainly … something we haven't seen before. Unsurprisingly, some people were offended. Watch it here via Australia's AdNews.

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