Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Papa John's dismal Q2 results, the latest #MeToo developments, and other news to know today

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John Schnatter (l)
John Schnatter (l) Credit: Papa John's ad

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: Papa John's just reported its earnings and, as Jessica Wohl writes, everything about the call was "awwwwkward." (If you're not up to speed on the crazy Papa John's scandal, which resulted in the brand wiping founder John Schnatter off all its marketing, here's the official Ad Age timeline.) North American same-store sales fell 10.5 percent in July, after dropping 6.1 percent in the second quarter. Which is not good. But also, as Wohl writes:

"CEO Steve Ritchie's comments included zingers like this: 'We are not dependent, nor should we be, on one person.' And of course, the images of that one person it depended on for so long are hastily being wiped from marketing materials such as pizza boxes and logos."

Meanwhile, the beleaguered founder (the original Papa John) issued his own statement complaining about current management and saying, "I know what works and what doesn't work for this company." He added: "I am not going away." And he attached a photo of himself wearing a Papa John's shirt. Because if you can't be on a pizza box, at least you can be on a press release.


Diet Madison Avenue is no longer trying to crowdsource funding for its legal bills. The anonymous Instagram account, which has been accusing prominent men in the ad industry of sexual harassment and misconduct, shut down the GoFundMe page where it had tried to raise $100,000 for legal fees, reports Ad Age's Megan Graham. The reason? Diet Madison Avenue "says it has representation from Time's Up, the organization dedicated to addressing inequality and injustice in the workplace," Graham writes. (The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund told Graham it isn't prepared to talk about funding at this time.) Former Crispin Porter & Bogusky Boulder Chief Creative Officer Ralph Watson is suing the anonymous Instagrammers for what he says are false accusations that cost him his job. Diet Madison Avenue had collected $1,970 on GoFundMe as of Monday, Graham writes. But the group now says those donations will be refunded, and "whatever you choose not to get back will be donated to the Times Up Legal Defense Fund."
Also: A prominent ad exec in the Boston area has been accused of lewd behavior on a commuter train. Jeremy Pincus was charged last week with indecent assault and battery, reports Graham; he had been VP of research and strategy at Dentsu Aegis Network-owned agency Isobar, though the agency says he no longer works there. (It's not clear if his departure was linked to the charges.) Graham reports:

"Pincus is accused of taking photographs of female passengers on the local commuter rail while grinding and pressing himself against them and touching himself on the train, said Jake Wark, press secretary for the Suffolk County District Attorney's office in Massachusetts. Wark said authorities believe the incident took place in late April." Pincus could not immediately be reached for comment.

Here's the story...
HGTV bought the house from "The Brady Bunch." Lance Bass, of boy band NSYNC, is crushed, because he wanted it, too. (Read about it from Ad Age's Simon Dumenco.) HGTV will reportedly restore the Studio City, Calfornia, house, used only for exterior shots, and return it to full '70s glory. Memo to HGTV from a fan: Please bring back the pea-green living room and carpeted staircase. And the orange kitchen countertop and backsplash. Also, it's maybe good that "Fixer Upper" is off the air, because Chip and Joanna Gaines would have found a way to give the Brady place a charming "French country" vibe.

$1 billion
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks co-founder, says his company WndrCo raised $1 billion in an initial investment round for a short-form video startup, with funding coming from Hollywood studios and Alibaba Group, the Chinese internet group. Meg Whitman, the former HP CEO, will lead the venture. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

"It will be a mobile-first subscription video offering that will focus on premium original programming delivered in short, 10-minute chunks, and it will be aimed at audiences in the 25-to-30 age range. It will also feature multiple price points, with one higher-priced option that doesn't include advertising and a lower-priced tier that has limited ads."

Comcast, Verizon and Fullscreen have all tried short-form video offerings, and all have closed over the past year, The Hollywood Reporter notes. And what's the advantage of Katzenberg's project over YouTube, which is free? Apparently, say Katzenberg and Whitman, the quality will be better. Which, OK, maybe there's an opening for that.
Also: AT&T bought out the Chernin Group's controlling stake in Otter Media, their joint venture with properties including Fullscreen and Crunchyroll. Read more from The New York Times.

Just briefly:
'Enemy of the people'? An Ipsos poll says that "43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed 'the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior,'" The Daily Beast reports.

NRA: The National Rifle Association plans to spend at least $1 million on TV ads promoting Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, Bloomberg News reports. So much for it being broke.

Mixed emojis: Snapchat lost 3 million daily active users from one quarter to the next, amid a redesign that was widely panned. On the upside, it's making progress on advertising, and quarterly sales jumped 44 percent from a year earlier. Read about it from Bloomberg News.

Shop with your voice: As noted yesterday, The Information reported that only 2 percent of people with Amazon Alexa devices used them to buy something this year. But Amazon isn't letting that one slide, and says it doesn't agree with the report's numbers and that "millions of customers use Alexa to shop."

Wait and see: HQ Trivia, the mobile video game show, is showing traditional commercials now, Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes. The first was a vertical video ad for Warner Bros.' shark thriller "The Meg," and it aired while people waited for the live game to start. "We'll see how the audience reacts to it," an exec says.

Musk on Twitter: Elon Musk said he's thinking about taking Tesla private. And he made the announcement on Twitter (where else?). Read more about it from Bloomberg News.

Ikea + India: Ikea opened its first store in India. The New York Times has a photo spread, plus interesting explanations of how Ikea adapted products and prices to the market. For example, The Times says, "most Indians do not use knives to eat and primarily want spoons, so the company ditched its children's plastic cutlery packs and instead sells four spoons for 15 rupees, or 22 cents."

That time Keanu Reeves shaved his legs for a Coke ad: Back in the '80s, before he was famous, Reeves played a young cyclist in a Coke ad. And he reminisced about it on "The Late Late Show with James Corden." Watch their banter, and the ad, here.

Inspirational quote of the day: "If you wanna start your own agency, you should just do it, because you're not getting any younger," says Katie Keating, co-founder and creative director at Fancy. Get more lessons from the founders of indie agencies in a video from Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz and Alfred Maskeroni.

Creativity pick of the day: Turkish Airlines paired up with the "Lego Movie" franchise for its in-flight safety video, and it's got cameos from Batman, Superman, Unikitty, Wonder Woman and the Lego Shark. As Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes, "If this doesn't get you to watch the safety video, we don't know what will." Here it is.

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