Goodbye, J. Walter Thompson. Plus, a streaming service for Fox News fans: Tuesday Wake-Up Call

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A logo J. Walter Thompson used to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014.
A logo J. Walter Thompson used to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014. Credit: J. Walter Thompson

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
Say goodbye to J. Walter Thompson, an agency name that debuted in the 1870s. WPP is merging the legacy creative agency with digital shop Wunderman, and the combo is getting a new moniker, Wunderman Thompson, as Ad Age's Megan Graham writes. It's another sign of big shifts in the ad industry at a time when Google and Facebook have upended business, and when there's new competition from consultancies. WPP, the world's largest agency company, combined Y&R with VML not long ago – a similar pairing of a legacy creative shop with a more digitally savvy one. WPP's new CEO Mark Read wants to simplify the holding company's structure for clients. With the new move, WPP is sending another message too, something along the lines of, "We know we have to embrace the digital future -- and to show you we're serious about letting go of our baggage, we're sacrificing the brand name of a storied creative shop."
So, Wunderman Thompson ... does it have a good ring to it? On Twitter, a few people said they should have gone with "Thunderman."

The contrarians
Yesterday was Cyber Monday, with brands from the Gap to Crate & Barrel blitzing consumers with discounts. Amid all the hype, many direct-to-consumer brands played it cool, as Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. Luggage purveyor Away told shoppers: "We don't do Black Friday sales, or Cyber Monday sales, because we're always on sale—that's the upside of our direct-to-consumer model." Warby Parker and Allbirds offered new editions without touting markdowns. As Pasquarelli writes, "While not offering discounts may seem counter intuitive for DTC retailers, it could help maintain brand strength in the long run by not training consumers to expect sales." Meanwhile, some brands seem to offer sales constantly. Does anybody pay full price anymore at the Gap?

'For Fox News super fans'
21st Century Fox's new streaming subscription service, Fox Nation, debuts today. Fox News describes it as a commercial-free streaming service "for Fox News super fans." It will air original content and also rebroadcast shows like "Tucker Carlson Tonight," "Hannity" and "The Ingraham Angle." USA Today has some (colorful) details on subscriptions:

The "cost for the service is $5.99 monthly, but Fox has several limited-time offers for those who want to be among the service's founding partners program including a $60 one-year subscription with a commemorative Fox Nation Founder Challenge coin, and a $1,200 three-year subscription with a Fox Nation Founder tactical watch, set of Fox Nation cocktail glasses, hat, medal and coin."

John Finley, the executive overseeing Fox Nation, told The New York Times: "We have fans. Other news organizations simply have viewers." Which is a boast worth pondering. But still: $1,200 swag-and-subscription packages?!?

Just briefly:
Reshuffling: "WPP has won Volkswagen's creative account in North America, following a seven-month global agency review. The incumbent in the U.S. was Interpublic's Deutsch," Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. "Omnicom will handle Europe and South America, while Cheil will hold onto the business in China …"

Layoffs: General Motors says it will "cut more than 10,000 salaried staff and factory workers and close five factories in North America by the end of next year," Bloomberg News reports. Also, the company plans to axe the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 sedans in 2019.

MAGA TV: President Trump, a frequent CNN basher, has a new idea for countering the network's global reach: A state-run TV network that would broadcast internationally and "show the World the way we really are, GREAT!" Read more in The Washington Post.

Pivot: "As Facebook struggles to find an audience for its YouTube competitor, Watch, the company has been talking to some media companies about focusing its efforts on audiences 30 years and older instead of teens and younger millennials," CNBC reports.

The Sandberg situation: Bloomberg News zooms in on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who is facing a wave of criticism for her handling of successive crises. "Many of the most pressing problems fall under Sandberg's responsibility," Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told Bloomberg. "Placing the blame on Sandberg would be a convenient path forward for them."

Tales from the cloud: Google Cloud has the somewhat daunting task of explaining to the public what it does, exactly. It has new ads out explaining how The New York Times uses Google Cloud to digitally archive millions of photos. Read more from George P. Slefo in Ad Age.

Word of the year: selected "misinformation" as its word of 2018. That's an overarching theme, because "the site with 90 million monthly users has busied itself adding new word entries for 'filter bubble,' 'fake news,' ''post-fact,' 'post-truth' and 'homophily,' among others," The Associated Press reports.

Creativity of the day: For 24 hours, Lockheed Martin has a new logo and name: Lockheed Martian. It's a way to celebrate the landing of the Mars InSight spacecraft. And as Ad Age's Jack Neff writes, it's also "a touch of humor rarely seen from a founding member of the military-industrial complex." Check it out here.

Friendly reminder: Wednesday is the regular deadline to enter Ad Age's Agency A-List & Creativity Awards.

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