Friday Wake-Up Call: The Parkland students' 'meme lab.' Plus, can crowdfunding save Toys R Us?

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Students from Parkland, Florida, on the cover of Time.
Students from Parkland, Florida, on the cover of Time. Credit: Time magazine

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: Ahead of Saturday's March For Our Lives against gun violence in schools, Time magazine put survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, on its cover, with the headline "ENOUGH." Its reporter visited the group's social media content studio, which is in an undisclosed location in a strip mall; to get inside, Time says, "you have to knock three times on a locked glass door and then loudly identify yourself so the kids are sure you're not an armed stalker." Vanity Fair visited too and calls it a "secret meme lab designed to propel #NeverAgain beyond the march." The students, with the help of a few alumni, are working on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat content, according to VF, and plan to start work on YouTube videos next. Each member has veto power over content. One member tells VF that he "made four memes that could have been viral but released only two, because the other two are wryly satirical, 'and the media yells at us when we're laughing.'"
What brands are doing: Lyft says it's offering free rides in 50 U.S. cities on Saturday to people attending March for Our Lives demonstrations. MTV and the NAACP are sending busloads of students to Washington, D.C., for the march, Teen Vogue reports.
A reminder: It's not too late for creatives to submit posters to help amplify the March For Our Lives message. Send them to Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz ([email protected]), and Ad Age will put them online so demonstrators can download and print them or put them on social media. Read more about the project here.

Cambridge Analytica and WPP
Here's another twist in the unfolding tale about Cambridge Analytica: WPP had partnered with the controversial political data firm for a U.S. Army pitch--it's been undergoing an agency review--Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports. WPP made a single pitch with Cambridge Analytica, Sloane says, and the relationship has ended. Cambridge Analytica which worked for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, has been in the news after The New York Times and the U.K.'s The Observer reported that the company had improperly obtained user data from 50 million Facebook users. Also, the company's CEO, Alexander Nix, was suspended this week after an undercover report by the U.K.'s Channel 4 seemed to show him talking about the use of bribes and prostitutes to entrap political opponents.

Trade war bad news for Apple, Starbucks and Nike?
The S&P 500 index of stocks dropped 2.5 percent on Thursday amid trade war fears. And China just struck back at President Trump's plan for tariffs. As Bloomberg News writes, "The Commerce Ministry in Beijing said it will impose import taxes on the U.S., including a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork imports and recycled aluminum, and 15 percent tariffs on American steel pipes, fruit and wine." If things escalate, the spat could impact some big-name American brands with a strong presence in China. CNN writes that "even though President Trump is acting to try and protect American workers from Chinese competitors that are selling more of their goods and services in the United States, many American companies stand to lose big if China fights back with tariffs of its own." CNN points out that Apple got 20 percent of its revenues from China in the most recent quarter. For Boeing, it was 13 percent, for Nike, 15 percent and for Starbucks, 14 percent.

Toy story
Charles P. Lazarus, who founded Toys R Us, died Thursday--a week after the toy chain said it would liquidate its U.S. stores, The New York Times reports. He was 94. Meanwhile, California toy mogul Isaac Larian, who launched the Bratz brand of dolls, is starting a GoFundMe campaign to try to save Toys R Us, The Associated Press reports. Larian and others have pledged $200 million, AP says, and he hopes to raise a total of $800 million to try to salvage more than half of the U.S. stores. He's got skin in the game: As AP writes, "Nearly 1 in every 5 sales made by Bratz doll-maker MGA Entertainment, where Larian is CEO, is rung up at a Toys R Us store."

Black travel
"Spend any time looking at leading tourism campaigns or watching travel shows and you could be forgiven for thinking that African-Americans don't leave home that much," writes Ad Age's Nefertiti Anderson. She profiles travel businesses run by people of color who are trying to reach the community. Often, they have a personal story to tell about why they saw a need for more travel services targeted at minorities. When Zim Ugochukwu founded digital publishing platform Travel Noire in 2013, for instance, "a Google image search of 'black travelers' led her to six pages of black suitcases," Anderson writes. And Rohan Gilkes, who is black, had a bad experience trying to book an Airbnb; he went on to found his own home-sharing platform, Innclusive.

Just briefly:
BMW + Goodby:
BMW appointed Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as its lead creative agency in the U.S., reports Ad Age's Lindsay Stein and E.J. Schultz. The incumbent agency was MDC Partners-owned KBS.

Finally: Instagram users have long griped that the platform wasn't showing them posts in chronological order. But it's changing its algorithm to put more new posts first, "instead of days-old posts that feel like seeing Christmas presents on Dec. 30," Quartz writes.

European data protection: Google "will ask web publishers to obtain consent on its behalf to gather personal information on European users and target ads at them using Google's systems," The Wall Street Journal reports. The move comes as the European Union is strengthening its data privacy rules.

Winter wonderland: A storm canceled the Hallmark Channel's upfront at the Rainbow Room in New York, so it live-streamed the event instead from a snowy Central Park, Jeanine Poggi writes.

Weather Channel: Comedian and producer Byron Allen bought the Weather Channel TV network for about $300 million, Bloomberg News reports.

Splitsider: New York Media, the publisher of New York Magazine, purchased comedy news site Splitsider from the Awl Network, Variety reports.

Quotes of the day: Fox News "is a pure propaganda machine and I think it does an incredible disservice to this country," CNN chief Jeff Zucker told a Financial Times conference. (Former White House strategist Steve Bannon retorted that "you can't name a more propaganda outfit than CNN.")

Creativity Pick of the Day: A new website looks like it's selling bulletproof vests to protect kids from school shootings. If you click to buy, though, "a message comes up to say that kids don't need bulletproof vests, but instead voters demanding change," as Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes. Creatives from several agencies worked together on the project after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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