Wednesday Wake-Up Call: New Fallout From H&M's Really Bad Ad. Plus, YouTube Changes

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H&M sweatshirt
H&M sweatshirt Credit: H&M

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related 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: Yet again, YouTube is tackling advertisers' worries about its platform. As Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes, "YouTube is making it more difficult for video creators to join in its ads program so it can better control the platform for advertisers." Successive crises flared up at the Google-owned video platform in 2017; brands were upset to learn their ads were paired with extremist content, or with cartoon content designed to frighten small children. In one of the new changes, video creators will need to rack up 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 viewing hours over 12 months if they want to earn ad revenue. In another extra measure, channels in the top tier ad program, Google Preferred, will be reviewed by actual humans.
YouTube has reacting to this issue for months, but these changes seem more far-reaching. Will they be enough to woo back the skeptics, including the world's biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble?

The Awl and The Hairpin, two niche but influential online publications, are shutting down at the end of January. It's the latest reminder of how hard it is for small publishers to compete for online ad dollars in a market dominated by Google and Facebook. Michael Macher, publisher of The Awl Network, told The Wall Street Journal that it was becoming tougher to get big advertising deals without building a larger audience. The Hairpin was aimed at women, while The Awl spanned news, fiction, essays and humor. You might recall last year's entertaining essay in The Awl about a woman's purchase of a West Elm sofa, her buyer's remorse, and her discovery that there was an entire community of people united in their hatred of the same couch. And if you missed it, voila: "Why does this one couch from West Elm suck so much?"

About the boy in H&M's 'monkey hoodie' ad
Swedish retailer H&M has faced an uproar since it put a black 5-year-old model, Liam Mango, in a hoodie that read "coolest monkey in the jungle." The ad appeared in the UK, but the backlash over its racial insensitivity spread as far as South Africa, where protesters trashed several stores and the brand shuttered its shops. H&M has apologized for what it called "a poorly judged product and image." Now the child model's mother, Terry Mango, has told the BBC that the family had moved out of their home in Stockholm because of security concerns. She didn't give specifics on the concerns, but she mentioned the South Africa demonstrations as a factor. Terry Mango has faced criticism for saying she didn't see the hoodie as racist. "I respect other people's opinion on the issue," Mango was quoted as telling the BBC. "I know racism exists, but does the shirt to me speak racism? No it doesn't." How does much does her son know about the uproar over the ad? Nothing, she says: "I just want him to have innocence."

Just briefly:
HQ Trivia:
Ad Age's Megan Graham talked to Scott Rogowsky, host of HQ Trivia, and the amusing Q&A covers topics from whether it's OK to Google the answers ("No!) to his on-camera habits ("I don't wear mascara. No mascara. I do wear pants, if you're curious.")

Voila: The first Super Bowl ad is out, and you can watch it here. It's a spot from Stella Artois beer starring Matt Damon, who's talking about, his initiative to bring clean water to places that lack it. Read more by E.J. Schultz.

Super Bowl Stunt: Skittles isn't buying ad time during the big game this year. But the candy brand says it's making a Super Bowl-worthy ad to show to a single person, Marcos Menendez, a teenager from Los Angeles. On Facebook, people will be able to watch Menendez's reaction as he watches the ad. Yes, it's complicated: Read more by Ad Age's Jessica Wohl.

Green light: A model whose stock photo was used in a campaign about HIV -- with the caption reading, "I am POSITIVE(+)" -- can sue for defamation, a Manhattan appeals court says. She's seeking $1.5 million, the New York Post says.

For the record: "Since Election Day, the Trump name has already been removed from luxury hotels in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Toronto, along with three apartment buildings in New York," The Washington Post writes.

Creativity pick of the day: Colonel Sanders speaks French with a strong American accent in KFC's first ad in France to feature the character. He also "waterskis down a tropical river balanced on two crocodiles," as Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes. Read more about the spot from Sid Lee Paris, and watch it here.

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