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: Maroon 5 will play the Pepsi Halftime Show at the Super Bowl in February, Variety reports. Billboard, The New York Times and other outlets also reported the news, but the National Football League isn't talking. "It's a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show," the NFL says. "We are continuing to work with Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show."
Meanwhile, social media flooded with complaints about the choice of Maroon 5 for a show in Atlanta, a city with great local artists. "Atlanta, home of Outkast, T.I., Future, Ludacris, Usher, etc., gets Maroon 5 to play the damn Super Bowl," someone tweeted. An Atlanta-based writer for USA Today calls it a missed opportunity and refers to Maroon 5 as "one of America's most inoffensive, milquetoast pop groups."
If Maroon 5 is inoffensive, that may be the point. Esquire says the band is "safe during a time when the NFL doesn't want to take risks, when a political statement would be disastrous, when they couldn't afford the subtle messages of a Beyoncé show." A Beyoncé show, however, is must-see TV.
Beer and pro athletes
Get ready to see more pro baseball and basketball players in beer ads. As Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes, Anheuser-Busch InBev just signed new deals with the players unions of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, and "the pacts are a significant development because pro sports leagues have historically been reluctant to allow active players to promote alcohol."
Until now, Schultz writes, beer companies often resorted to tapping former players to plug their products. Marcel Marcondes, AB InBev's U.S. chief marketing officer, calls the MLB and NBA pacts a "landmark" and says: "Fans are first and foremost connected to currently active players. ... That's what drives the conversation." True. Although Colin Kaepernick is pretty connected, too.
What to watch
Monday marks the start of 2018-19 broadcast TV season. Anthony Crupi has buyers' predictions about the top-rated shows, but first let's get one thing out of the way. Crupi writes: "Nearly all the shows on the fall schedule will attract a disproportionate number of viewers too old for the demographics that advertisers covet. The median age of the audience that tuned in to last season's highest-rated freshman drama, 'The Good Doctor,' was 60.8 years old, or nearly 12 years beyond the upper limit of ABC's target demo."
Most of the shows forecast for the top 20 scripted series have been on the air for a while. No. 8 on the list is a new show, ABC's "Roseanne" spinoff, "The Conners." To be more precise, it's a sort-of-new show, because it continues the story of last season's hit "Roseanne," which was itself a reboot of a show that first aired three decades ago, during the Reagan administration.
Amazon will surpass Verizon's Oath as well as Microsoft in U.S. digital ad revenues in 2018, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. That means it will be the No. 3 digital ad player after Google and Facebook. As The Wall Street Journal notes: "Amazon is attractive to advertisers looking for insight into the impact of their ad buys on purchases. Amazon, unlike Google and Facebook, has that purchase data,'" said Monica Peart, eMarketer's senior director of forecasting."
Despite Amazon's rise, it has a ways to go to catch up to the two biggies. EMarketer forecasts Amazon's share of the digital ad market at 4.1 percent. And that's "far behind Facebook's 20.6% or Google's 37.1% of market share," eMarketer says.
In other Amazon news: First, the bad news for Amazon. "After fining Google billions of euros, the EU is checking how Amazon gathers information on sales made by competitors on Amazon Marketplace and whether that gives it an edge when it sells to customers," Bloomberg News reports. Also from Bloomberg: "Amazon is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the next few years."
Oops: The new paint job on a Cathay Pacific airplane spelled the name of the Hong Kong-based airline wrong ("Cathay Paciic.") The airline had tweeted photos making fun of itself, setting up the punch line for Twitter's amateur comedians. "Couldn't give a flying F," someone tweeted.
War room: The New York Times got a look at Facebook's "war room" for safeguarding global elections. The conference room "will house a team of about 20 focused on rooting out disinformation, monitoring false news and deleting fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters before elections in the United States, Brazil and other countries," it reports.
Don't say it's over: BuzzFeed News is cutting its in-house podcasting production team to focus on video, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Out: Ian Buruma, editor of The New York Review of Books, departs from the job "amid an uproar over the magazine's publication of an essay by a disgraced Canadian radio broadcaster who had been accused of sexually assaulting women," The New York Times reports.
Ad Lib: For this week's edition of the Ad Lib podcast, Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker talks to Nick Brien, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas. Brien, among other things, "is tired of hearing about the big bad consulting firms."
Ad of the day: Ashley Madison did an ad with a "back-to-school" theme, and it's so weird it's worth watching. The infidelity website is "using back-to-school season to promote itself as a hookup destination for moms on the prowl," Ad Age writes in this week's Marketer's Brief. "Because of course all mothers are sex-crazed maniacs just waiting for the school bus to leave before they begin their mid-day romps." The woman in the commercial indulges in a fling in her marital bed, with her wedding portrait staring down at her antics. Is this supposed to look fun? Anyway, watch it here.