Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Goodbye, election ads. Plus, feminine care marketing gets real

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Voters in Hillsboro, Virginia
Voters in Hillsboro, Virginia Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. Friendly reminder: You can still get tickets for Ad Age Next, our conference on the future of marketing and tech being held next Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City. Read more here.

What people are talking about today
Brands from Google to Lyft to J. Crew spent yesterday trying to get people to go to the polls. But Delta Air Lines did something different: It ran an Election Day ad that didn't actually ask people to vote. The spot showed landscapes of America as seen from a plane overhead, with a voiceover about how the country doesn't seem so divided if you look at the big picture. The narration is what makes the ad (it's reportedly by actress Viola Davis):

"When you rise above the noise, the tweets, the talking heads, what you hear and what you see are two different things. You hear about how we're a nation divided. Yet from where we sit, we see no such thing."

On Twitter, some people made snide cracks. ("@Delta, Spoiler alert: We all become connected … at your lost baggage counter.") But election night brought out a lot of emotions, stress and anxieties about America's divisions, and a few people confessed that the ad made them teary-eyed. Author Cheryl Strayed tweeted: "Glued to @CNN waiting for election results. So far the @Delta ad narrated by @violadavis has made me cry twice. I'm not generally into ads, but whoever wrote this one: a sincere high five."
P.S. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans held on to the Senate.

He-who-must-not-be-named
Papa John's has been trying very hard to move on and leave its founder behind. And thus John Schnatter, the pizza chain's founder, wasn't even mentioned by name during Tuesday's quarterly conference call, writes Ad Age's Jessica Wohl. Schnatter (who remains the brand's top shareholder) provoked a series of brand crises and left his chairman's role after using a racial slur on a conference call (read here for Ad Age's timeline on the events), but CEO Steve Ritchie insisted those crises are "not going to define the future of Papa John's." The chain's comeback plan includes an extra $10 million in spending on the its U.S. marketing budget this quarter. And the brand really needs a comeback, with third-quarter North America same-store sales down nearly 10 percent.

Getting real
What would a time traveler from the '80s, '90s or early 2000s think about how feminine care products are marketed today? Let's just say things have evolved. Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli takes a look at the fast-moving sector of feminine care:

"Helped by societal trends such as the Women's March and the #MeToo movement, marketers are defying long-held taboos (for example, replacing blue with red liquids on sanitary napkins in ads) and proudly positioning their products as vaginal wellness brands with colorful imagery, plain language and lighthearted tones."

It now seems perfectly acceptable for a feminine wellness brand to run a cute pop quiz on Instagram about the clitoris. With new ideas flooding the market, let's spare a thought for our foremothers, who had to suffer through awful menstrual products like the sanitary napkin belt. A reminder: Pads with adhesive strips to stick to underwear didn't even exist until 1969.

Just briefly:
Unsolved mysteries:
Ad Age's Jack Neff delves into a complex problem for marketers: How sparingly (or how often) should they be bombarding people with the same ads? "How much is too much? It depends whom you ask," he writes.

Experiment: In an industry shift, Adelphic is trying something new, "subscription-based pricing for programmatic," Ad Age's George Slefo writes.

Next chapter: After 26 years, British ad legend Cilla Snowball is leaving AMV BBDO, where she is group CEO and group chairman. "She was given the title of Dame by the Queen in 2017, the first woman in advertising to receive it," Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine writes.

Cars by subscription: "Upstart vehicle subscription brand Fair has launched an agency review as it prepares to go national and boost its marketing spending," Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes.

Fair and balanced?: Fox News rebuked on-air personalities Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro for joining President Trump onstage at a campaign rally this week, The New York Times reports. A statement from the network says, "Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events."

Green light: European regulators cleared Walt Disney Co.'s $71.3 billion buy of entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox, with a few conditions. Read more in The Hollywood Reporter.

Creativity pick of the day: In a new spot for CityMD, a whole cast of characters nags a fictional woman named Meredith Carlson to go to the doctor because she's got a terrible cough, Ann-Christine Diaz writes. Even her family dog weighs in, as does her latest online date. The spot is a humorous reminder to millennials that they should go to the doctor when they're ill (because apparently, they don't always). The campaign is from indie shop Terri & Sandy; check it out here.

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