Friday Wake-Up Call: Watch the FCC chairman's Bizarre Harlem Shake Video. Plus, Retailers Dump Mario Batali
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
The Federal Communications Commission just voted to repeal Obama-era rules on net neutrality, which required that internet providers treat all online traffic equally. Before the vote, its chairman, Ajit Pai, felt the need to make a video while dressed up in a Santa suit, doing the Harlem Shake and playing with a fidget spinner and a lightsaber. The costumes and props are apparently meant to be ironic and millennial-pleasing; Pai's underlying message is that internet is going to be fine, so everybody should stop criticizing him. Or as Vanity Fair writes, maybe President Trump's FCC chairman wants to tell us that "destroying net neutrality is actually fun and cool." The video was made by a conservative website, The Daily Caller.
Interesting factoid 1: As BuzzFeed notes, The Daily Caller's article about Pai's video "was written by Benny Johnson, who was previously fired from BuzzFeed for plagiarism."
Interesting factoid 2: The video's soundtrack includes musician Baauer's hit song "Harlem Shake." Baauer told Billboard that the makers of the video didn't have his consent to use the song, and he said he would take action. "Whatever I can do to stop this loser," he tweeted.
Face it: Despite all the talk of net neutrality, maybe you still don't understand what it is and what's at stake. (Because yes, it's complicated.) The New York Times has a good primer.
President Trump's campaign data operation is reportedly under scrutiny. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
"Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump's campaign, turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter."
A few days ago, Forbes reported that Cambridge Analytica was "shifting its focus from U.S. politics" and working more with American corporations. The CEO declined to name clients, but he told Forbes they included "a womenswear brand carried by major retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, and a retail bank."
ABC's "The Chew" just fired celebrity chef Mario Batali, Entertainment Weekly says. The news comes after Eater reported on four women accusing him of sexual misconduct. Retailers are fleeing deals with him, too. Eataly pulled Batali-branded products off its shelves, Eater reported. Target soon followed.
Walmart told Business Insider: "We're ending our relationship with Batali and will discontinue our business with his brand."
Business Insider says Kmart, Costco and Amazon are among the retailers that haven't addressed the issue. As of Friday, Amazon's site still offered up products with Batali's name on it, including cookbooks, pans and a "Crocs Unisex Bistro Batali Edition Clog."
Ads in new places
Two online players are trying something new with their advertising, something they had avoided until now. First off, Facebook. Ad Age's Garett Sloane had a scoop last week with the news that Facebook would test pre-roll ads on its Watch video hub; now it's giving more details, saying the tests will start in January. Facebook has opposed pre-roll ads in the past, but the thinking is that Watch, a newish video service akin to YouTube, is a place where they might work.
There's a new ad-supported option from music-streaming service Pandora, too. As Ad Age's George Slefo writes: "Pandora will now let its users listen to music on demand without a subscription. In exchange, the listener will have to watch a 15-second video ad." Lizzie Widhelm, senior VP of ad product strategy at Pandora, told Slefo: "Consumers are seeking access to the content they want when they want it, but they don't always want to pay for it."
What now?: The Walt Disney Co. announced plans to acquire most of 21st Century Fox. According to CNN, experts say the Disney-Fox deal could face more antitrust scrutiny than AT&T's bid for Time Warner.
Baton pass: New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. is passing the baton to his son, Deputy Publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, effective Jan. 1, as Ad Age's Simon Dumenco writes.
Ivanka Trump's brand: "Ivanka Trump's brand is about to open a store in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York," Bloomberg News says.
More than dancing hot dogs: Snapchat is going to let artists, developers and brands create their own augmented reality animations, akin to Snapchat's famous dancing hot dog, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes.
Must-read: Wendy's Twitter account has been on fire this year, and the team who runs it went on Reddit to do an Ask Me Anything Q&A. It's funny Friday reading (and educational too). Wendy's and WPP's VML were honored at Cannes for their Twitter stunts.
Creativity pick of the day: It's not every day that you see references to secret societies and Dan Brown-esque intrigue in a fast food ad. Taco Bell's new ad promotes $1 value meals. As the CMO told Ad Age's Jessica Wohl: "This should not feel like any value advertising you've ever seen before." Read more by Wohl on Adage.com.