Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Who's winning in U.S. mobile payments? Hint: It's not Apple or Google

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Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg went to the EU parliament to answer questions about data lapses and privacy…wait, wait, let's start over. Mark Zuckerberg went before the EU parliament to repeat carefully drafted talking points and avoid topics he didn't really want to get into. The bizarre format of the hearing made it easy to do that, because all the questions were asked in a row, with Zuckerberg addressing everything in the brief time that remained. As Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes,

"At the end of the hearing, it was clear some lawmakers were unsatisfied with Zuckerberg's glossing over of many questions. A few of them made final attempts to get answers as the hearing was coming to a close. "Will you allow users to escape targeted advertising," one lawmaker resubmitted in the final minutes. To which Zuckerberg responded with a slightly dismissive, "I'll make sure we follow up and get you answers."

Sloane's story about Zuckerberg's Brussels appearance is illustrated with a telling photo: Zuckerberg wears a big sunny smile while shaking hands with Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, who looks extremely unenthused.

Mochas and moola
Who's winning the battle for mobile payments in the U.S.? It's not Apple or Google but Starbucks, according to a new report from eMarketer. As Quartz writes:

"More than 23.4 million people will open the Starbucks app to pay for their coffee or tea at least once every six months in 2018, according to eMarketer, which just edges out Apple Pay's 22 million biannual users. Google Pay trails in third place, with 11.1 million people using the service to pay once every six months."

This raises a bigger question: Why aren't Apple and Google's mobile payments catching on faster in the U.S. in general? The writer of this Wake-Up Call is based in China, where the ubiquity of mobile payments affiliated with Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings has allowed her to banish coins from her handbag (hallelujah.) Almost every place in Shanghai accepts mobile payments, including the local steamed buns seller and the lady selling flowers from baskets on her bike. Panhandlers do too.

Amazon's facial recognition technology is in the news. But before we discuss it, let's pause to ponder the creepy brand name that Amazon chose for it: Rekognition. As one commenter wrote on Twitter, that name "is not remotely menacing and doesn't sound remotely like technology employed by the oppressive surveillance bureau in some tyrannical Orwellian dystopia." Moving on, though. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups say Rekognition is being used by law enforcement in Florida and Oregon, and they fear the technology could be used to target protesters or immigrants. Amazon says it suspends anyone who abuses the system. Read more on Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile in China: Chinese police used facial recognition tech to help nab three fugitives attending concerts by Cantopop star Jacky Cheung, aka the "God of Songs," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sign of the times
The woman behind the Aflac duck has another creation: two talking human gamete cartoons that encourage women to consider freezing their eggs. As Ad Age's Jack Neff writes, the digital and social campaign featuring talking human eggs is the work of Linda Kaplan Thaler Productions for Manhattan specialty practice Extend Fertility. ("When you freeze your eggs, all your fertility worries are over-easy," one cartoon egg says to another. "Did you just say 'over-easy?'" the other retorts. "I did." "Oh, you're better than that.") Thaler tells Neff the campaign is "about telling women to go live your life."

Just briefly:
What happens in Vegas:
The iconic tourism campaign's latest work feels a little weightier. As Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes, agency R&R Partners says it wants to help "redefine what adult freedom means in 2018 in a world celebrating empowerment and inclusiveness."

And now for something completely different: The Bad Lip Reading channel on YouTube has reinterpreted Britain's royal wedding, putting utter nonsense into the mouths of the bride, groom and guests. Ad Age's Simon Dumenco writes that "it's nothing short of a revelation." Be prepared to giggle, lots.

Just say 'oui': If you want to go to the Cannes Lions but fear your CFO will say no, the festival has a ready-made letter to help you make your case, Megan Graham writes in Ad Age. An excerpt: "I'm aware that last year there were murmurings about the festival becoming too expensive, but I can reassure you on that score."

Big Ass Fans: The Big Ass Fans brand was originally called the HVLS Fan Company, a name that "really rolls off the tongue! It's horrible," marketer Alex Reed tells Drew Neisser in a CMO strategy column in Ad Age. (Which actually raises a question: What's so different between HVLS and the alphabet soup of ad agency names, like BBDO, DDB, BBH and TBWA? Just throwing that out there.)

Musical chairs: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is launching a media agency review in the U.S., and the incumbent is Interpublic's UM. This means "another big auto account is up for grabs," E.J. Schultz and Megan Graham write in Ad Age.

Win: Britain's HSBC bank picked Omnicom's PHD for global media, Ad Age's Meghan Graham writes. GroupM's Mindshare was the incumbent.

Retailpocalypse: The CEO at JC Penney, Marvin Ellison, is leaving for Lowe's. Ellison is responsible for the troubled retailer's recent marketing cuts, Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli reports.

Univision: Univision plans to make industry veteran Vince Sadusky its next CEO in place of Randy Falco, who is retiring, Bloomberg News reports. Sadusky has served as the finance chief at Univision rival Telemondo.

Creativity pick of the day: There are no dancing poop Animoji to be seen this time, but Apple's new iPhone X Animoji spot for South Korea is nonetheless a lot of fun. South Korean indie band Hyukoh provides the catchy soundtrack for the spot, while an animated bear, dragon and chicken sing their hearts out at karaoke. Watch it here (but beware, you'll probably be humming the tune all day.)

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