Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Who needs Frank Underwood? Netflix just signed the Obamas

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The Obamas ahead of President Trump's inauguration
The Obamas ahead of President Trump's inauguration Credit: TKTK/Pool via Bloomberg

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: Netflix has lured big names lately: Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and now … the Obamas. Netflix announced that former "President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features." CNN says the Obamas will be behind the camera and in front of it, too. With the last season of Netflix's "House of Cards" in the works (minus scandal-tainted Kevin Spacey and his fictional alter-ego President Frank Underwood) Netflix is trading a fictional POTUS for the real thing.

Incidentally, the Obamas branded their new production company Higher Ground Productions. Is it a reference to the Stevie Wonder classic, "Higher Ground," which the singer performed with Usher and Shakira at Obama's pre-inauguration concert back in 2009? Or maybe it's a nod to Michelle Obama's catchphrase: "When they go low, we go high"? It could also be a subtle dig at America's current leadership. Or all of the above.

Death of a glossy
Interview magazine outlived its founder Andy Warhol by over 30 years. But it's now shutting down, and Ad Age's "Media Guy," Simon Dumenco, has mixed feelings about that. On one hand, he writes, the magazine

"introduced generations of culture consumers to cutting-edge artists, actors, writers and more. (For years I unhesitatingly carted heavy boxes of all the issues I grew up with in the late '80s and early '90s every time I moved.) On the other hand, what took so long for it to die?"

The magazine's m.o., as Dumenco writes, remained "celebrities gushing about celebrities." And who really needs that in the Instagram era, when everyone's perfectly comfortable gushing about themselves?

The final countdown
There are three days to go until GDPR, the European Union's strict new data privacy rules, are enforceable. In some quarters, things are tense. As Ad Age's George Slefo writes, four major trade bodies that represent some 4,000 global publishers are in a standoff with Google. While Google says it's been working with publishers to help them through the change, some publishing execs think Google is actually "using its dominance in the digital ad ecosystem to improve its advantage while giving publishers the short end of the stick," Slefo writes. Google's hosting meetings on the eve of the regime, and the trade groups plan to snub them, he says. By the way: Slefo's story is illustrated with an image of a bear fighting a wolf. On Twitter, he's taking a poll: Which one is Google?

Just briefly:
"Fox and the WWE have hammered out the framework of an expansive rights deal that will bring 'SmackDown Live' back to the broadcast airwaves after a nine-year stint on cable," writes Anthony Crupi in Ad Age. It's another sign of the bigger emphasis on sports at the "New Fox."

Another kind of smackdown: The National Advertising Division recommends that T-Mobile stop referring to itself as the "best unlimited network." As Ad Age's Slefto writes, NAD says T-Mobile "did not provide evidence that its network is superior in providing talk and text mobile services, or in providing high-speed data more reliably or to a greater coverage area."

Sidelined: The character Larry Culpepper, the badly dressed football fanatic in Dr Pepper commercials, is reportedly not returning this season. (To which someone tweeted, "our long national nightmare has ended.") Read more from Ad Age's E.J. Schultz.

Style guide: West Wing staffers who write tweets for President Trump try to mimic his style by using "suspect grammar," The Boston Globe reports. ("They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis," the Globe says.)

Fox + Snapchat: "Fox is preparing to wade deeper into Snapchat by handling all the ad sales for Vertical Networks, the digital media startup that was specially designed for the messaging app," writes Ad Age's Garett Sloane.

Adobe: The company cut a deal to buy e-commerce company Magento for $1.68 billion and Bloomberg News calls it "a bid to capture a bigger slice of the digital-commerce industry from Salesforce and Oracle."

Changing of the guard: Kimberly-Clark has a new CMO: Giuseppina "Giusy" Buonfantino, Jack Neff writes in Ad Age. She replaces Scott Usitalo, who has been in the role two years.

Thought of the day: "Those reliant on advertising know: the disruption that earlier slammed the music, newspaper, magazine, taxi, and retail industries now upends advertising." The quote is from The New Yorker's excerpt of Ken Auletta's book about the ad industy, "Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)."

Creativity pick of the day: How do you make veggies appealing to kids? Belgian supermarket Delhaize and TBWA asked kids to give them more amusing names. The agency took the kids' best suggestions. As Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes, carrots became "orange rockets," while oyster mushrooms were dubbed "gnome trumpets." The campaign was charming and it brought a sales boost to boot.

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