Tuesday Wake-Up Call: Playboy Might Ax Its Magazine. Plus, the Success of Bud Light's 'Dilly Dilly'

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A Playboy cover from 1971.
A Playboy cover from 1971. Credit: Playboy

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. And by the way, happy New Year.

What people are talking about today: A few months after the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the company is considering whether to axe its iconic print magazine to focus on brand partnerships and licensing deals, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ben Koh, managing partner of private equity firm Rizvi Traverse and Playboy Enterprises' chief executive, says the company plans to use 2018 to transition away from a media business into a brand management company. As Kohn told the Journal:

"Historically, we could justify the [magazine's] losses because of the marketing value, but you also have to be forward thinking. I'm not sure that print is necessarily the best way to communicate to our consumer going forward."

The report says that in recent years, the magazine has lost up to $7 million annually. Hefner had reportedly cut a deal with controlling shareholder Rizvi to keep the magazine going as long as he was alive. He died in September at age 91, and his legacy publication ("pushing and removing buttons since 1953") might not survive him by much longer. But hey, Playboy crew socks and Playboy deodorant body spray will live on.

NFL ratings: good news and bad news
First, the good news for the NFL: The league's games accounted for 37 of 2017's top 50 broadcasts, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes, that's almost three quarters of the most-watched shows on television. And now for the bad news: With TV viewership down overall, the audience for pro football is down 9 percent from a year ago. Crupi's got a lot more numbers and details; one quotable factoid is that there are no dramas and sitcoms on the year's top 50 U.S. TV broadcasts. Again.

Three-second rule
Snapchat's under extra pressure to woo advertisers, and it's weighing whether to make people sit through three seconds of commercials before they can hit the "skip" button, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports. "Snapchat's current video ads now are easily dismissed with a tap of the screen, but one top advertiser says that has led to average view times on ads that barely reach a second," Sloane writes. Snap's third quarter net loss ballooned to $443.2 million, and investors and advertisers are getting impatient.

Also: Drake performed at Snapchat's New Year's Eve party in Los Angeles, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel personally sponsored the performance, Business Insider says. But you can't find photos of the glitzy party on Snapchat; here's the reason, according to The Daily Beast:

Dilly dilly
The New York Times delves into Bud Light's "Game of Thrones"-inspired campaign and its nonsensical medieval-sounding catchphrase, "dilly dilly." Bud Light's VP of marketing told The Times he considers "dilly dilly" more popular than past Budweiser campaigns that influenced the zeitgeist – the croaking frogs of 1995, and the "Whassup?" campaign that debuted in 1999. The Times says Wieden & Kennedy's Alex Ledford, a senior copywriter, and N. J. Placentra, a senior art director "were trying several nonsense phrases when one uttered 'dilly dilly,' and it made them laugh." The Times never quite explains what made the catchphrase take off. But here's a theory: Maybe, in these strange and complicated times, people just need something silly and medieval to laugh about. ICYM, read more about the campaign (including its Super Bowl plans) from Ad Age's E.J. Schultz.

Just briefly:
Ratings for ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" soared higher than last year's, Variety reports. From 10-11 p.m., it says, "the crowd swelled to 15.7 million viewers and a whopping 5.2/20 in the key demo — up 35 percent and 39 percent, respectively, from last year. Those numbers marked the highest scores in that hour since the Ryan Seacrest edition of the 'New Year's Rockin' Eve' special bowed in 2000." Numbers are not yet available for the 11 p.m. to midnight segment when Mariah Carey performed.

Time's up: About 300 powerful women in Hollywood, from Shonda Rhimes to Reese Witherspoon, have banded together to fight sexual harassment in show business as well as in blue collar workplaces, The New York Times reports. Their initiative, called Time's Up, includes a $13 million legal defense fund for less privileged women.

New guy: A. G. Sulzberger is the new publisher of The New York Times, after his father, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. stepped down. The 37-year-old addressed some of the challenges facing the industry in a New Year's Day note.

Outcry: YouTube star Logan Paul posted footage of a dead body he came across during a trip to a Japanese forest known as a site for suicides. After an uproar, he apologized and deleted the video, New York magazine writes.

There she is: Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson has been elected to chair the Miss America pageant after a scandal involving sexist emails at the organization, NBC News says. Carlson was Miss America 1989.

Happy new year, and eat the damn cookie: SoulCycle's new campaign urges people to "#screwresolutions" for 2018 and instead do what makes them happy ("wash your hair less," "answer less email" and "eat the damn cookie.") Read more by Ad Age's Megan Graham, and watch the spot here.

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