Wednesday Wake-Up Call: KFC Crisis Now PR Nightmare, Right-Wing Media Attacks Parkland Students and More

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Domino's CEO J. Patrick Doyle
Domino's CEO J. Patrick Doyle

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

Domino's has finally overtaken Pizza Hut as the biggest pizza chain both in the U.S. and worldwide. Wasting no time, the chain inserted the phrase "the largest pizza company in the world based on global retail sales" into the first sentence of its fourth-quarter earnings release, Ad Age's Jessica Wohl reports. Global retail sales exceeded $12.2 billion in 2017, compared to $12.03 billion for Pizza Hut.

Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle made it clear that the chain wants to be treated as top slice in the pizza world. "Our terrific procurement team ... made sure that all of our supply partners are aware of the fact that we are the largest and expect to be treated that way. So, scale matters and the fact that we're now the largest globally and in the U.S. in the pizza industry matters and clearly, we're going to press that with our partners," he said in response to an analyst's question on Tuesday's quarterly conference call.

KFC's chicken crisis has flown the coop

KFC's chicken-supply problem in the U.K., which has forced the closure of about half of the the chain's 900 restaurants there—and which the chain has said could persist all week—has blown up as the media increasingly focuses on disgruntled consumers. Twitter is full of reports of consumers calling local police about the closings (not our problem, has been the response) and one harried, near-hysterical woman's complaint that she was forced to go to Burger King has gone viral. The BBC has quoted a KFC spokesperson: "Each day more deliveries are being made. However, we expect the disruption to some restaurants to continue over the remainder of the week, meaning some will be closed and others operating with a reduced menu or shortened hours."

Right-wing media attacks Parkland students

Reporters in conservative media outlets are accusing students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who are speaking out in the wake of the tragic mass shooting there of being left-wing "crisis actors" or FBI plants, The New York Times reports. "In certain right-wing corners of the web—and, increasingly, from more mainstream voices like Rush Limbaugh and a commentator on CNN—the students are being portrayed not as grief-ridden survivors but as pawns and conspiracists intent on exploiting a tragedy to undermine the nation's laws," it says. And the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., caused a Twitterstorm by controversially liking tweets that accused David Hogg, a 17-year-old Parkland student, of criticizing the Trump administration. Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh has also accused the students of trying to advance a "political agenda."

Just briefly

Net-neutrality news coming soon: The Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish its December order overturning the net neutrality rules on Thursday, according to Reuters. The formal publication in the government website the Federal Register will trigger a 60-legislative-day deadline for Congress to vote on whether to overturn the decision.

Quinoa comes to Chipotle: Chipotle is adding quinoa to its menu at its test kitchen in New York City, Business Insider reports. A representative for the chain says it will offer "red and gold quinoa tossed with a little citrus juice, cumin, and freshly chopped cilantro," it says. It's the latest in a series of changes at the chain (including the introduction of queso last year) and comes ahead of the arrival of new CEO Brian Niccol next month.

Sky News saved? Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox proposed a funding guarantee of at least 10 years for the loss-making 24-hour news channel Sky News, as part of negotations with U.K. regulators over Fox's takeover of Sky. The Competition and Markets Authority said last month that Murdoch's bid raised media plurality concerns because the deal would give his family too much control over U.K. news media.

Creativity Pick of the Day: In the U.K., an innovative outdoor campaign from Hiscox insurance is highlighting the dangers of cyber crime for businesses by reflecting numbers of cyber attacks in real-time. It works by pulling data from a purpose-built "honeypot" system typical of any standard small business server set-up. This monitors live hacks, and the poster responds with a ticker showing passers-by the cumulative amount of attacks to have hit the honeypot that day. Creative agency AMV BBDO worked with digital outdoor specialists Grand Visual on the campaign.

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