New York City cracks down on floating billboards. And Facebook changes course: Thursday Wake-Up Call
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What people are talking about today
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio calls it a "floating eye-sore." Officials are annoyed by a huge billboard barge cruising the city's rivers with LED advertising screens on board, and now the city has filed a lawsuit against Ballyhoo Media, the company behind it.
"Our waterways aren't Times Square. These floating eye-sores have no place on them," de Blasio said in a statement. The city, which filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, says floating billboards ruin the view, distract drivers and violate local law; Ballyhoo says it checked with lawyers and believes they're legal, the New York Post says.
Judging from all the testimonials in the City Hall statement, other officials besides de Blasio hate the eye-catching LED screens too; they described them with terms like "harmful" and "obnoxious." "We spend enough time staring at screens as it is," state Senator Brad Hoylman says.
On second thought
Until now, Facebook has banned content from white supremacists but allowed white separatists and white nationalists to air their views -- a stance that perplexed many observers and frustrated civil rights groups. Now, after consulting with experts, Facebook acknowledges that there's no meaningful distinction there. It's banning white-separatist and white-nationalist posts too, on both Facebook and Instagram, Ad Age's Orla McCaffrey reports. Facebook says it didn't act against white nationalism until now because "we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism—things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people's identity."
More on Facebook
Advertisers and ad agencies in New Zealand have been asking for help from their global peers to try to pressure Facebook to change its live-streaming policies. Their plan comes after a gunman shot and killed 50 people at a New Zealand mosque this month, broadcasting his attack on Facebook Live. "We need to use our united global force as an industry to drive urgent actions," says a letter from the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (which represents marketers) and the Commercial Communications Council of New Zealand (which represents agencies). They say they're disappointed with Facebook's response so far, and they're asking everyone to "consider suspending advertising on Facebook until its live streaming functionality is either taken down or sufficient controls are put in place." (Read more in Australia's AdNews.)
The appeal has gained attention from the World Federation of Advertisers, whose new president is top Mastercard marketer Raja Rajamannar. The group says it is calling on "all brands globally to hold social media platforms to account in light of recent failures to block dangerous and hateful content." It says brands must decide on their own approach, though they have a "moral responsibility" to consider the issue because their ad dollars make platforms profitable.
New podcast alert: Ad Age has a new podcast, in which I-Hsien Sherwood and Alfred Maskeroni talk to interesting folks in the ad world -- but not about their work. It's called "Ad Block." First up is Jaime Robinson, chief creative officer of Joan Creative, who chats about everything from her childhood feelings about the Sears Wish Book to her hobby of spinning yarn. "You take the raw fiber and pedal like the lady in 'Rumpelstiltskin,' and you turn it into very disappointing yarn," she says. "But you are happy because you made it."
Vice: Vice Media has agreed to a $1.87 million settlement after a class action suit accused the company of paying women less than men, The Hollywood Reporter says.
Media deals: Bustle Digital Group bought The Outline, a tech and culture site launched more than two years ago, Recode writes.
Whitelist: Unilever is launching a 'Trusted Publishers' network to vet digital players, and it "goes beyond the standard audience-verification, anti-fraud and brand-safety guidelines of most marketer 'whitelists,'" Jack Neff writes in Ad Age.
'Ghost sponsorship': The season finale of "Project Runway All Stars" Season 7 just aired on Lifetime, bringing an end to a very weird sponsorship situation. The show has been plugging JC Penney and says the winning designs are sold there -- but that's not actually true, for complicated reasons, as The New York Times reports, referring to the deal as a "ghost sponsorship."
Sensible advice: Microsoft marketing chief Chris Capossela told employees not to pull any public-facing April Fool's Day pranks. The Verge got hold of his internal memo. "Data tells us these stunts have limited positive impact and can actually result in unwanted news cycles," he writes. Good to know.
Ad of the day: Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg have another season of their VH1 "Potluck Dinner Party" show to promote. For whatever reason, they re-created the iconic love scene from "Titanic" for a promo video, and it's hilarious and also very sweet. Read more by Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz, and watch it here.
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