Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device; sign up here.
WPP returns to growth and Facebook News offers publishers ‘free money’: Friday Wake-Up Call
WPP returns to growth in third quarter
WPP has reported a return to growth in its third quarter results this morning, beating analyst expectations. Organic growth was up by 0.7 percent, reports the Financial Times, whereas analysts had predicted a 0.6 percent decline.
The company reported “significant” improvement in North America and China as well as net new business of $3.9 billion in the first nine months. However, the U.S. business remains the weakest part of the group, notes the FT, with organic revenue falling 3.5 percent.
CEO Mark Read said in a statement: “WPP’s performance in the third quarter is another important step in the strategy we outlined in December 2018 to return the Company to sustainable growth in line with our peers in 2021.” Read cited “major wins” in the quarter including Mondelez and eBay, but also emphasized the importance of “growing and retaining longstanding clients,” such as the U.S. Marine Corps.
Facebook offers publishers 'free money' in news debut
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to unveil Facebook News today at an event in New York City. As Ad Age’s Garett Sloane reports, the service essentially “pays publishers to host their headlines and drive visitors to their websites as a way to make amends with the industry that has been battered by the rise of the social network and other platforms.”
One publishing executive, who is participating, says that Facebook is paying $1 million to $3 million a year, depending on the media company, and describes this to Sloane as “free money”. He adds: “No one’s going to turn that down, unless they are taking some kind of moral stance against Facebook.”
So far, participants include The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg News, Meredith Corp., Condé Nast, Hearst and others. But it’s still not clear whether The New York Times will join the Facebook party. Could it be it will take that “moral stance?"
Bud and Megan Rapinoe help grow women’s soccer
Budweiser is the official beer sponsor of the National Women’s Soccer League, and now, writes Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz, the brand is helping the league to find other corporate sponsors.
A new campaign for the brand by VaynerMedia features a TV spot in which Megan Rapinoe urges other brands to follow Bud’s lead. “The more support the league gets, the more the world will watch. The more the world watches, the closer we get to an equal playing field,” Rapinoe states in the ad.
The campaign asks for consumers to pre-pledge support for whatever brands fill sponsor gaps across several categories. And fans can also target specific brands by tagging them on social media.
Amazon decline: Amazon’s profits fell by 26 percent in its third quarter results, reports the Wall Street Journal, its first profit decline since 2017. However, sales were up by 24 percent to $70 billion. The quarter included July’s Prime Day.
Plunging: Twitter shares fell sharply yesterday after its third quarter results missed analyst expectations. Sales increased 8.6 percent to $823.7 million, reports Bloomberg News, short of the $876 million expected. The company said advertising privacy issues would continue to affect it.
Under wraps: NBCUniversal is keeping details about the pricing and promotion of streaming service Peacock on a need-to-know basis, reports Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi. CEO Steve Burke said during Comcast’s third-quarter earnings call that NBCU will “remain pretty quiet until a month or two before launch, for competitive reasons.”
TikTok success: Snack bar brand Kind, which this week became one of the first snack brands to create a presence on TikTok, received nearly 20 million views in the first 24 hours for a Hashtag Challenge promoting its Simple Crunch bar, writes Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing.
Campaign of the Day: HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is about to kick off its final season, and as parting gift, fans of the show get to say goodbye by inserting themselves into its titles. As Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz reports, a titles generator at Bethevalley.com lets viewers input a short two-word phrase, which will then replace the show’s name in the opener and can be shared via social media. The tool encourages fans to “add your name, or whatever you want … within reason.”
Entries are open for the Ad Age A-List & Creativity Awards; learn more.