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: Yesterday was a happy day for Amazon, and a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Facebook.
As Amazon reported second-quarter results, "advertising was again the brightest spot for the e-retailer, growing at 132 percent, its fastest-growing segment by far," writes Ad Age's Garett Sloane. Ad sales hit $2.2 billion in revenue for the quarter, and as Sloane notes, they're helping Amazon reach new levels of profitability.
Meanwhile, Facebook just made history, after investors punished it for predicting slowing growth. As Bloomberg News writes:
"Facebook Inc. just had the biggest stock-market wipeout in American history… The drop translates to a $119.4 billion decline in market capitalization, the largest-ever loss of value in one day for a U.S. traded company."
Alex Jones, the InfoWars conspiracy theorist, is not supposed to be live-streaming on YouTube right now. That's because his channel just got a "strike" against it for violating the site's policies, including those on hate speech. But as Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes, Jones apparently found a workaround:
"Jones was able to stream on Thursday through another channel belonging to Ron Gibson, who is affiliated with Jones' InfoWars network. 'Exposing internet censorship and having a real national debate about it, will bring it down,' Jones said live on YouTube. 'It's like blowing up the Death Star.'"
YouTube declined to comment.
Gone in 60 days?
Omnicom Group is reportedly closing its Hollywood marketing agency, Ant Farm, which has recently done campaigns for movies including the "Tomb Raider" reboot and "Mission: Imposible -- Fallout." Deadline reported that the ad giant is "shutting down the entire Los Angeles-based company, which during the past 18 months has undergone key exec departures (and clients with them), layoffs and downsizing." The report says employees were notified that operations will stop in 60 days. The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, cited an anonymous insider saying that Omnicom is having a "tough go," and it didn't consider Ant Farm to be part of its core strategy. This month, Omnicom announced weaker-than-expected quarterly results, causing its share price to plummet. Both reports said Omnicom didn't immediately return requests for comment about Ant Farm.
Things that make you go hmmm
According to The Wall Street Journal, government officials discovered something that piqued their interest while reviewing Sinclair Broadcast Group's proposed purchase of Tribune Media Co. And now the Justice Department is probing whether TV station owners broke antitrust law to inflate local TV ad prices, the Journal says, citing unnamed sources:
"The probe has examined whether Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Tribune Media Co. and other independent TV station owners coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials, one of the people said."
Tribune declined to comment to the Journal, while Sinclair said "it is our understanding that this is not specific to Sinclair but focuses on the larger broadcast industry." In any case, the proposed Sinclair-Tribune deal clearly isn't going the way execs had hoped; the Federal Communications Commission is sending it to an administrative hearing, a move that could kill its chances.
Not a racist, a 'creative genius'
Roseanne Barr gave her first TV interview since ABC canceled her sitcom, and her conversation with Fox News' Sean Hannity was ... surprising. Over and over, Hannity gave her openings to say sorry for the racist tweet that got her fired. She did apologize for causing hurt, but she also said she felt the tweet had been misunderstood, that she has already spent two months apologizing, that she isn't racist, and that she feels "so sad" people that think she is. The tweet "cost me everything, my life's work," Barr said. As The Associated Press notes,
"She said she was stunned by the negative reaction to the tweet, which Hannity noted was nearly universal. 'I am a creative genius, and this is not a good feeling for an artist to be treated this way, and it's not a good feeling for a citizen, either.'"
Barr repeated her claim that she didn't know the target of her tweet, Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, is black. (The tweet, in case you forgot, was "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.") And for some reason, Barr also used her Fox platform to insult Jarrett's hairdo. "Seriously, she needs a new haircut."
Also worth noting: Hannity spent an hour with Barr -- with a "news alert" banner on the screen -- while CNN was running some big, potentially damaging news about President Trump. (Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, says candidate Trump knew ahead of time about a meeting in which Russians had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, CNN says, citing unnamed sources.)
Layoffs: MDC Partners, the ad group that owns agencies including 72andSunny and Anomaly, has laid off a "small handful" of its corporate team, Ad Age's Megan Graham and E.J. Schultz report. But the company isn't saying who exactly was let go.
Security shaming: Google's Chrome browser "will start displaying 'Not Secure' to the left of URL addresses for websites that haven't adopted the 'S' in HTTPS," as Ad Age's George Slefo writes. HTTPS is a more secure version of HTTP, and sites that don't make the switch might lose revenue and prominence in search results.
'Drama and discord': Univision started laying off about 6 percent of its workforce (around 270 people) this week, The Wall Street Journal says in a deep dive into how "discord and drama have engulfed Univision."
The founder strikes back: Papa John is suing Papa John's. Founder John Schnatter filed a suit to try to inspect company documents; according to Bloomberg News, the suit says it's "because of the unexplained and heavy handed way in which the company has treated him." We're not going to explain the whole Papa John's saga here again, so check out Megan Mowery's handy timeline in Ad Age.
Vocabulary of the day: Shadow banning. President Trump tweeted that Twitter is "shadow banning" prominent Republicans. Shadow banning "makes a user's post visible only to themselves," New York magazine writes. But Twitter says it doesn't do that.
Weird headline of the day: "Japanese company renting ad space on armpits," via CBS Philly. (Slow news day in Philly?)
Creativity pick of the day: Burger King pulled off another stunt, this time to draw attention to the fact that brands often charge more for women's products than men's. It's called the pink tax, and it affects items like razors and shampoo. As Ad Age's Jessica Wohl writes, BK rebranded its chicken fries as "chick fries," put them in a pink box, and charged $3.09 for them instead $1.69. There's a video; "I don't give a f*ck about the fact that the box is pink," one woman tells BK staff. Check it out here. And happy Friday.