Thursday Wake-Up Call: Google opens a database of (some) political ads. Plus, fake job offers for agency employees

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Google's stand at the Noah Technology Conference in Berlin.
Google's stand at the Noah Technology Conference in Berlin. Credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

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: If you're hunting for a job in advertising or PR, be cautious if the interview and hiring process seems a little … off. Because "that job offer you just got from an agency could be fake," Ad Age's Megan Graham writes in an in-depth look at a scam targeting industry job-seekers. One hopeful had an interview conducted over Google Hangouts chat, then got a supposed job offer with the agency name "Weber Shandwick" spelled wrong, which seemed fishy. As Graham writes:

"Multiple agencies say the scam first surfaced earlier this summer, stemming from fraudulent ZipRecruiter postings and emails (often from an address using an agency's name but a Gmail domain address) that use an agency's logo, real employee names and company mission statements, and language copy-pasted from websites."

What's the scammers' endgame? To trick you into parting with some money, and maybe also sharing your Social Security number. Read Graham's full story here.

What's for breakfast?
Glyphosate is a chemical used in Monsanto's weed killer, Roundup. It's also reportedly present in classic breakfast cereals, according to a research and advocacy group. Ad Age's Jessica Wohl writes:

"A report from the Environmental Working Group on Wednesday said it found dangerous amounts of the herbicide glyphosate in a range of popular foods, from PepsiCo's Quaker Old Fashioned Oats to General Mills' Cheerios. But the marketers named say their products are well within EPA guidelines, leaving consumers to try to sort it out."

General Mills and Quaker both say their products are safe; what's their next defensive move here, given that a lot of news outlets are reporting on it?

Big spenders
Under pressure from U.S. lawmakers, Facebook and Twitter have gotten more transparent about who's running what ads on their platforms, and Google is joining in with a new searchable database that shows what political ads have appeared on Google sites, including YouTube. "People can find ads about federal candidates or current elected federal officeholders, and see who paid for them," the announcement says. The tool keeps track of spending since May 31.

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee spent the most, at $629,500. Another top spender was the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, at $341,600. TechCrunch notes what is not searchable in the archive:

"It does not include issue ads — broader campaigns meant to influence public thought around a specific political topic — nor does it collect state or local ads. The ads are all U.S.-only, so elections elsewhere won't show up in here either."

In other words, there are still a lot of blanks to fill in.

Timeout
After Twitter suspended far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for seven days, the tech company's CEO Jack Dorsey referred to the move as a "timeout." Dorsey told "NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt'"that "any suspension, whether it be a permanent one or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and their behaviors." Many people can't understand why Twitter didn't kick Jones off outright as other platforms have done, and Dorsey's comments didn't get a great reception on Twitter. The headline on Simon Dumenco's Ad Age item about this is "Twitter's CEO thinks giving Alex Jones a 'timeout' might make him think about what he did wrong." Here's an alternate headline from Quartz: "Jack Dorsey is treating Alex Jones like a small child."
Also: Garett Sloane writes in Ad Age that Jones' viewership on Facebook and YouTube had been shrinking since 2016. The platforms recently took action against him after finding that several of his videos included hate speech against transgender people and Muslims. He's popped up on Facebook again anyway, but is starting well behind the viewer numbers his old page got.
And meanwhile, halfway across the world: Facebook has a huge hate speech problem in Myanmar, where "Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook."

Just briefly:
The last straw:
Interns at Havas New York have led a greening push, and the office "no longer supplies single-use plastic straws to employees," writes Ad Age's I-Hsien Sherwood. "But unlike Starbucks, which began phasing out straws last month, Havas also gave all 1,200+ employees in the building a stainless steel straw to wash and reuse."

Weed: The owner of Corona beer, Constellation Brands, put an extra $4 billion into a Canadian marijuana company it has already invested in. The company, Canopy Growth Corp., trades as WEED on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Read about it in the Ad Age Marketer's Brief.

Radio waves: "Public-radio companies PRX and PRI are merging in a bid to capitalize on the surging popularity of podcasts," The Wall Street Journal writes.

Something to watch: Tencent, the Chinese internet giant known for video games and the WeChat app, reported its first quarterly profit drop in over a decade. It has lost over $175 billion in market value since its high point in January, as The Wall Street Journal writes, adding, "The selloff has sparked fears of whether there will be broader contagion for tech stocks around the world."

'Crazy Rich Asians': "With the growing buzz surrounding 'Crazy Rich Asians' and its groundbreaking all-Asian cast, the film is poised to generate nearly twice as much box-office revenue as initially expected," Bloomberg News writes. It opened Wednesday.

Listen: The USA Today Network is getting into the consulting business. For the latest edition of the Ad Age Ad Lib Podcast, Editor Brian Braiker talks to Kevin Genztel, USA Today Network's chief revenue officer, who explains the move.

Campaign of the day: Scott Rogowsky, host of HQ Trivia, is Chase's new ambassador to college students. As Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes, the bank filmed Rogowsky surprising students by popping up on an ATM screen and chatting with them. He also dispensed financial advice on topics like, how do you get a friend to pay her share? "Spell out how much your friend owes you, with pepperoni, on her pizza," was his suggestion. Check out the spot here.

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