Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Super Bowl Ratings Drop. Plus, the Truth About 'Lady Doritos'

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Credit: iStock/AnikaSalsera

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related 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
Surprisingly, one of the big brand brouhahas of the moment isn't about a Super Bowl ad. People have been making a fuss online about rumors surrounding "Lady Doritos," aka "Doritos for Her," a supposedly less messy, less crunchy version of the corn chip. #LadyDoritos was among the top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. late Monday, with people proclaiming the concept absurd and sexist. Someone tweeted: "I wanted a lady president but all I got was this bag of #LadyDoritos."

But this is apparently all just a big misunderstanding: PepsiCo says Lady Doritos are not going to happen, as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes.

Schultz explains that "speculation about a gender-specific version of the mainstream snack brand spread after PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, on a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast, said the company was considering launching snacks specially designed for women."

Nooyi did mention Doritos as an example of how women and men snack differently, which is apparently how this all got started. Women, she said, "don't like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don't lick their fingers generously and they don't like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth." Huh.

People are having so much fun discussing #LadyDoritos that it's hard to let this go. It's time to face the truth. But here's one last tweet to get it out of our system.

Super Bowl ratings
Headlines proclaimed the Super Bowl "thrilling," or "a nail-biter." But as Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, "somehow the endlessly entertaining contest put up the lowest ratings since 2009." NBC's broadcast averaged 103.4 million linear TV viewers, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. The number was down 7 percent from Fox's broadcast a year ago. Still, let's put things in perspective. As Crupi writes: "Before everyone starts in with the gnashing of the teeth and the rending of garments, bear in mind that Super Bowl LII now stands as the tenth most-watched broadcast in U.S. history."

The last word on the Super Bowl ads
What was the most entertaining and most effective Super Bowl ad, as ranked by marketing pros? According to a survey by Morning Consult for Ad Age's first Super Bowl ranking, it was the 90-second Amazon spot with Gordon Ramsay, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins trying (but failing) to fill in for the Alexa voice assistant. As Ad Age's Nat Ives writes, the others in the top 5 were Tide's quirky "It's a Tide Ad," Tourism Australia's "Dundee," the NFL's "Dirty Dancing" tribute "Touchdown Celebrations to Come" and Budweiser's "Stand by You." Last on the ranking is Diet Coke's curious "Groove," featuring actress Hayley Magnus doing an awkward dance in rainbow socks in celebration of the brand's new "twisted mango" flavor. (If you're still catching up on this, you can watch all the ads here on Ad Age.)

Overall, here's Jeanine Poggi's take in her final Super Bowl newsletter of the season: "For the most part, this year's crop of Super Bowl ads were, as predicted, especially boring. Few advertisers were willing to take big risks for fear of backlash …" Given the backlash over the use of Martin Luther King Jr.'s voiceover in an ad for Ram trucks, she writes, "maybe marketers were better off sticking to the tried-and-true."

He's out
Lululemon Athletica CEO Laurent Potdevin is departing "under a cloud of misconduct," Bloomberg News reports. He resigned on Monday, and the company isn't explaining much. "Lululemon expects all employees to exemplify the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another," a statement says. "Mr. Potdevin fell short of these standards of conduct." Whatever happened, Potdevin leaves with a financial cushion, after four years at Lululemon. Bloomberg says the company will give him a lump-sum cash payment of $3.35 million amid the exit, and he'll get an additional $1.65 million over 18 months.

Just briefly:
Our word of the day is 'dimethylpolysiloxane':
Researchers from Japan's Yokohama National University regrew hair on mice "by using dimethylpolysiloxane, the silicone added to McDonald's fries to stop cooking oil from frothing," Newsweek reports.

Turbulence: Newsweek's editor-in-chief Bob Roe, executive editor Ken Li have been fired, CNN reports. Newsweek has been reporting on the troubles at its own parent company, including an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Don't click on this link: If you haven't watched "This Is Us," abstain from clicking. But if you're all caught up, feel free to read the Esquire interview with actor Milo Ventimiglia talking about how much he really loves Crock-Pots. He's got two of them!

Ads of the day: Whole Foods has its first campaign out since its purchase by Amazon, and the ads seem targeted at young and quirky types, as Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. The tagline is "whatever makes you whole," and the ads include characters such as "a milquetoast-looking dude who wants some cheese, but has no idea what kind." Read more by Pasquarelli, and watch the ads here.

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