Friday Wake-Up Call: Kanye West plugs Yeezy in the Oval Office, and Walmart makes an entertainment push
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: Kanye West delivered a 10-minute monologue to President Trump in the Oval Office, touching on the abolition of slavery, "male energy," manufacturing, MAGA hats, mental health and hydrogen-powered airplanes. He also name-checked his own brand, Yeezy, in the super-viral speech. West said he looked up to Trump, Ralph Lauren and other "American industry guys," and that Trump had helped inspire him to cut his lucrative collaboration deal with Adidas on his sneaker brand. "You gave me the heart to go to Adidas," West told the president. Read more from Bloomberg News. And also, the White's House has a transcript of their exchange and it even left all of West's four-letter words intact.
Lego + Indiegogo
The tried-and-true way of testing new products is through focus groups and surveys. But Lego just tested one of its new ideas, a toy marketed to adults, by putting it on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding service. The platform is attracting more business from large corporations using it to test whether there's a market for certain new ideas, Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. She adds:
"In addition to Lego, 10-year-old Indiegogo has worked with roughly 50 Fortune 500 companies, including Tyson Foods and Coca Cola, which market their innovations alongside the wares of the 6,000 startups that are live on the platform any given day."
Lego reached its funding goal, and says that, even more importantly, it established a dialog with the community.
'Mr. Mom' is coming back
Walmart is investing in an interactive video startup, Eko, and teaming up with Hollywood studio MGM as it offers more entertainment content, and competes with Amazon. One goal is to bolster Vudu, its ad-supported streaming platform, using video content to lure customers. The Wall Street Journal reports that:
"Walmart aims to license video that targets its core middle- and low-income shoppers in rural and suburban communities, a demographic Walmart believes is underserved by current streaming services, said spokesman Justin Rushing."
The first original content out of the MGM deal will be a remake of '80s comedy "Mr. Mom," which starred Michael Keaton as a hapless stay-at-home dad whose wife goes back to the workforce. The premise will need some freshening up for a 2018 audience. A writer for pop culture site The Mary Sue asks whether it's wise to reinvest in the idea that "a man doing housework or raising his children is so abnormal as to be grounds for an entire comedy series."
Some brands and media partners are pulling out of a major conference in Saudi Arabia after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Future Investment Initiative, sometimes called "Davos in the Desert," starts Oct. 23. Media sponsors The New York Times and The Economist backed out, HuffPost says. Others, including Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN and Fox Business Network, say they are monitoring the situation, HuffPost adds. Uber's chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, says he is "very troubled" by the allegations and no longer plans to go unless new facts are revealed. (It should be noted that a Saudi sovereign wealth fund has a share in Uber, so things could get tricky.) JPMorganChase CEO Jamie Dimon is among the execs who reportedly still plan to attend, HuffPost says.
Khashoggi, who is from Saudi Arabia but was living in the U.S., is a columnist for The Washington Post. His newspaper says Turkish investigators suspect he was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Also: Virgin's Richard Branson also suspended work and investment talks with Saudi Arabia. He wrote in a blog post that the allegations, if true, "would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government."
Cleanup: "Facebook said it removed 559 pages and 251 accounts that were coordinating the spread of misinformation and spam in the U.S., and most originated from within the country," Bloomberg News reports.
Play ball: Google's got a new campaign with Major League Baseball, and it will highlight the tech company's smart speaker, Ad Age's George P. Slefo writes. Plus, "announcers will ask the search giant questions during live game play, some of which will include, 'Hey Google, when is the next game?'"
Chief people officer: CBS HR exec Laurie Rosenfield has a new role: chief people officer. Bloomberg News says "it's another sign the broadcaster is re-evaluating its corporate culture after the sexual-misconduct scandal of ex-CEO Les Moonves."
Thrilled: Thrillist writers and editors won the right to a starting salary of $50,000 after talks between its union and management that lasted nearly a year, Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes.
Splitting up: Gatorade and WPP's VML are ending their 8-year relationship, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz reports.
Marcel: Here's some news for anybody who ever snickered about Marcel, Publicis Groupe's internal AI tool. Marcel was among the reasons GSK went with Publicis for its global media-buying assignment, Ad Age's Jack Neff writes.
Ad of the day: "Starting at age 5, girls stop believing they can be presidents, scientists, astronauts, big thinkers, engineers, CEOs, and the list goes on. Why? Because what else are we going to believe when we are three times less likely to be given a science-related toy?" That's the voiceover recited by young girls in a surprising new spot that comes not from a science-related toy, but from … Barbie. Read more by Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz about how the brand has been trying to modernize its image, and watch the spot here.