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: MDC Partners says it's considering its options, including a possible sale. As Ad Age's Megan Graham writes, the company put out a statement about its strategic review process after The Wall Street Journal reported that a boutique investment firm had talked to potential buyers on MDC's behalf. MDC, owner of agencies including 72andSunny, Anomaly and Crispin Porter & Bogusky, confronts similar pressures to what other big advertising groups face, including spending cuts by clients, and its struggles have been in the news for months. In May, MDC's CEO called the company's first-quarter financial results "unacceptable." In July, it made cuts to its leadership team. This month CEO Scott Kauffman announced that he's stepping down. The company now says it's doing a strategic review while also looking for a new CEO. There's a lot up in the air right now.
SAG-AFTRA is calling for a strike against BBH, the creative agency owned by Publicis Groupe, in a new flareup of tension between the actors' union and ad agencies. Ad Age's I-Hsien Sherwood writes that "the union is instructing its members not to work for the agency, which employs on-air talent in its work for clients like Sony, Amazon, Google and Netflix." Earlier this month, BBH ended its nearly 20-year relationship with the union, saying it was hard to compete against other ad agencies that hadn't signed with SAG-AFTRA. (Non-signatories include Droga5, 72andSunny and R/GA, Sherwood writes.) BBH also said its contract with the union was outdated, a leftover from the era before digital advertising exploded. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris shot a video explaining the strike; she says BBH has been "unwilling to engage in meaningful conversations, and we're left with no choice." BBH didn't immediately return Sherwood's request for comment. Read more, and watch Carteris' video, here.
Adobe just made a move that shakes up the marketing tech space. Bloomberg News reports that the company cut a deal to buy software maker Marketo for $4.75 billion, "bolstering its marketing tools in a bid to compete against Salesforce.com Inc. and Oracle Corp. in a fast-growing business." Marketo's products include marketing automation, email, social, digital ads and marketing analytics. A few months ago, Adobe bought e-commerce specialist Magento for $1.68 billion. As Reuters says, "Adobe has been on something of a shopping spree lately."
Facebook is for lovers
Facebook just started testing its new dating service, called, yes, Dating, in Colombia, and
On the auction block: Comcast and 21st Century Fox "will settle their takeover battle for Sky in a weekend auction run by British regulators, setting up a dramatic climax to a 21-month sale process that has pitted some of the world's biggest media giants against each other," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Alexa, what's new?: Amazon's voice assistant "will now respond directly to commands on a new $60 AmazonBasics-branded microwave oven," Bloomberg News says.
Win: IPG Mediabrands-owned media agency UM "successfully defended its business handling the account of Charles Schwab, the San Francisco-based bank and brokerage firm, following an agency review," Ad Age's Megan Graham writes.
Gap: Gap Inc., has the Athleta womens' activewear brand, and now it's getting into men's sportswear with a new label called Hill City. Read more by Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli.
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