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Forget the Oscars, Farmers Insurance Is Running Its Own Awards

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:01:00 -0500

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The Academy Awards are less than a week away, but animal lovers may want to tune into a mock award show created by Farmers Insurance Group. The Los Angeles-based insurer has put together a digital campaign designed to highlight some of its craziest real-life claims in a format that takes advantage of the current awards season. Called "The Burkies," after Farmers' spokesman Professor Burke, the character created by Oscar winner JK Simmons six years ago, the awards will also play up Farmers' "We Know From Experience" campaign, now in its second year.

"It's allowing us to extend the campaign in a way people have given us permission to do at a time when they want to be entertained," said Leesa Eichberger, who joined the 89-year-old company last year as head of brand marketing. She noted that the company tried something similar on a smaller scale with a digital effort tied to the Olympics last summer and met with success. "We're not just developing content for content's sake, but content that's relevant, fun and interesting."

Beginning Monday, Farmers will push out a series of spots, including a 30-second promo trailer and six award contenders, each in a different film genre, like horror, romance and comedy. Among the finalists are a dog dreaming of diving who floods his owners' house; a deer who hosts a stag party and destroys the pool; and a turkey uprising that causes a meat truck to crash. A lot of the video footage is repurposed from prior adssuch as a "romantic rodent" that steals a wedding ring. Using stock and existing footage kept production costs low, said Ms. Eichberger, who declined to specify the campaign's budget. In 2015, Farmers spent $140.9 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Texas Organizations Launch 'I Pee With LGBT' Campaign

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and nonprofit Legacy Community Health have released a digital video to highlight the discriminatory nature of the Texas "Bathroom Bill" (Senate Bill 6), which aims to prohibit transgender people from using the restroom they choose.

The 60-second spot, entitled "Taking a Seat, Making a Stand," was created by GSD&M and five-time Academy Award-nominated director Richard Linklater. Through targeted digital Facebook buys, the humorous video will try to encourage Texans to reach out to their state legislators to oppose S.B. 6. The campaign behind this effort is called "I Pee With LGBT" and the hashtags include #IPEEWITHLGBT and #StopBS6.

To bring humor to the situation, the spot shows a number of people some in bathrooms discussing how there's only one way to stop the bill, "You've got to take a seat to make a stand."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Turner Sports Preps Single-Buyer 'Superpod' Commercial Breaks for NBA

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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Not content merely to shake up its NBA broadcast and studio crews, Turner Sports next week will give advertisers an opportunity to make their mark on its new "Players Only" initiative, carving out a quartet of single-sponsor "superpods" that will air during TNT's Monday night doubleheaders.

Featuring a blend of isolated branded content, whip-around analysis and a custom 60-second capper, each takeover pod will replace the standard three-minute ad break that occurs between the first and second and third and fourth quarters of TNT's NBA coverage.

Designed to offer viewers a more engaging experience during basketball's longest in-game breaks, the superpods also provide TNT's NBA advertisers with a clutter-free chunk of real estate from which to market their products and services. If the experiment works out as planned, hoops enthusiasts will be more likely to pay attention to the brand messaging, which in turn would go a long way toward justifying the premium rates associated with taking up an exclusive position.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Unilever Merger or P&G Breakup? Both Proposals Point to Cost Savings

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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In the same week that Kraft Heinz proposed to buy Unilever in a bid to put two of the biggest marketers together, it was revealed that Procter & Gamble Co. has an activist investor at its door who many believe will agitate for a breakup.

Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management disclosed that it has accumulated an investment in P&G that's grown to $3.5 billion. Mr. Peltz has spurred big breakups of Kraft Foods in two waves this millennium, most recently the 2011 Mondelez spinoff, and unsuccessfully pushed for PepsiCo to split from Frito-Lay.

The breakup logic flies in the face of the proposed Kraft Heinz-Unilever merger, which would produce a behemoth with $84.2 billion in annual salesabout the size of P&G before a 100-brand purge spurred by another activist investor, Pershing Square Holdings' Bill Ackman, five years ago.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




SkinnyPop Tries Its Halo on Microwave Popcorn

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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Hey, Strange Creatures: Do We Have a Shop For You

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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Now brand characters have an agency of their own.

It's Danger Pigeon, founded by creative industry veteran Pat Giles and his copywriting partner (and wife) Amy Giles, dedicated to highlighting the importance of brand characters and icons in connecting with audiences in direct and authentic ways.

While the husband-and-wife team started the shop about two years ago, it wasn't until this January that they decided to fully brand the company as a "character agency."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Quinnipiac University Updates Logo After Student Petition

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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Quinnipiac University has updated its logo following a student petition asking for the change. The petition protested that the logo's lowercase "u" in "university," saying it undermined the school's academic excellence.

Last summer, the Connecticut school unveiled its new brand identity, which included "Quinnipiac" with a capital "Q" and "university" in all lowercase letters. The revamped logo prompted Brett Segelman, a senior marketing major at the school, to start a petition in September. "I was outraged by it," said Mr. Segelman, who added that the wordmark did "not entail a message of academic importance."

The student's plea must have not gone unnoticed because Quinnipiac revealed an updated wordmark on Friday, which showcases the word "university" in all caps.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Celebrate President's Day! Be a Patriot and Buy a Mattress!

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:40:00 -0500

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Ah, President's Day. The time when all good Americans hail to the chief by purchasing a new car, dining room table or spring-coil mattress.

Around this time each year, local retailers and car dealers break out the limited-time only offers to move the metal and the boxsprings with hard-sell spots, often with clumsy and hilarious results. This year, given the new administration, some are even trying to be intentionally comic.

Here, we look at some of the current crop of President's Day pitches:

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Though Not Scientific, Trump's Media Survey Reinforces Resentment of Press

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:15:00 -0500

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One day after an epic press conference during which President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized and diminished long-respected media outlets such as CNN as purveyors of "fake news," his still-operating campaign arm and the Republican National Committee have reinforced their media-as-opposition message by disseminating a "Mainstream Media Accountability Survey" to supporters.

Some professional market researchers and GOP pollsters suggest that despite its appearance, the survey is nothing more than a means of egging on supporters to cough up more data, and questioned its validity.

"You would never use data from a biased sample of email list subscribers as a replacement for traditional public opinion research, and that's not likely what they're using it for," said Patrick Ruffini, co-founder of Republican research firm Echelon Insights and former RNC digital strategy director. "Given the fact that Trump can't stop talking about the 'lying media,' I suspect this is one of the better tools in their arsenal to land people on a donation page after taking the survey."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




GE Wants You to Say Goodbye to 'Useless Productivity Tools'

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:10:00 -0500

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Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new and trending TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention analytics from 10 million+ smart TVs. The New Releases here ran on TV for the first time yesterday. The Most Engaging ads are ranked by digital activity (including online views and social shares) over the past week.

Among the new releases, Quaker Oats wants to inspire you to prepare your morning oatmeal the night before -- what it calls "overnight oats" -- while Karl-Anthony Towns works out with Sasquatch for Jack Link's Beef Jerky. And GE wants you to say goodbye to what it calls "useless productivity tools" -- including the S.M.O.O.C.H. Method. (You don't know the S.M.O.O.C.H. Method? How the heck have you been team-building, then?)

Continue reading at AdAge.com




PepsiCo Installs New North American Beverages CMO

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:01:00 -0500

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PepsiCo has a new chief marketing officer for North American beverages. Greg Lyons, formerly senior-VP marketing, was named to the role. He replaces Seth Kaufman, who has moved on to become the president of the company's North American nutrition business.

A PepsiCo spokeswoman confirmed the changes to Ad Age after they were earlier reported by Beverage-Digest.

Mr. Kaufman had held the CMO job since September 2015 when he was promoted after Simon Lowden moved on to take over as the company's president for global snacks and insights. In his new job, Mr. Kaufman will oversee brands including Quaker, Tropicana, Naked and KeVita.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




How the Subscription Economy Will Change the Price We Pay

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500

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Should a customer in New York pay a higher price than someone from Ohio for the same service? And should a doctor in Ohio pay a higher price than a New York taxi driver? Should a Mac user be steered to a pricier hotel when shopping online? Hint: It's already happening.

A growing number of companies have already shifted to a subscription model, where customers pay a monthly fee. Now, more firms are experimenting with charging customers different prices and using alternate pricing plans, based on data and analytics that can maximize revenues and customer satisfaction.

American consumers increasingly use subscriptions for things once bought one transaction at a time, such as watching movies on Netflix or paying one annual fee to Amazon for all their shipping costs. Subscriptions are in vogue for everything from buying razors (Harry's or Dollar Shaving Club) to buying underwear (MeUndies) to beauty products (Birchbox).

Continue reading at AdAge.com




ABC Sells Out of Ad Time in the Oscars

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:32:41 -0500

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ABC has sold out of commercial time in the Academy Awards, with the cost for a unit remaining steady despite last year's ratings weakness and the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Advertisers in this year's celebration of some of the biggest films include Walmart, Samsung, McDonald's, AT&T, Verizon and Anheuser-Busch InBev, ABC said.

Thirty-second spots are going for about $2 million, with some paying as much as $2.5 million, according to several media buyers.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Work & Co. Brings on Rupal Parekh as Director of Brand

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:30:00 -0500


Work & Co. has hired Rupal Parekh, former deputy managing editor at Ad Age, to serve in the newly created role of director of brand, focusing on driving awareness of the shop's offering to clients and talent.

Ms. Parekh, who most recently ran her own strategic advisory firm, will also help Work & Co. develop industry relationships, highlight the importance of digital products to brands and bring PR strategies more into the agency's design and engineering process for clients. She will report to Gene Liebel, founding partner of the Brooklyn-based, privately owned agency.

"Rupal shares our values and really gets the growing importance of digital products and the kinds of people and processes that make successful ones possible," said Mr. Liebel. "She's known as a leader in the industry and her credibility is unassailable."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Unilever Rejects $143 Billion Offer From Kraft Heinz

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 11:20:00 -0500

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Kraft Heinz Co.'s latest takeover aspirations have been thwarted, for now, as Unilever rejected a $143 billion proposal to combine the two consumer goods giants, a mega deal that would bring everything from Heinz ketchup and Kraft macaroni and cheese to Dove soap and Lipton tea under one international roof.

Kraft Heinz itself is the product of the major 2015 merger of Kraft Foods Group and H.J. Heinz, a deal pulled together by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway.

Since then, Wall Street has been anticipating that Kraft Heinz, with the financial backing of 3G, would seek to grow its bottom line through massive cost cutting and its revenue through acquisitions. Until now, the prevailing thought was that Kraft Heinz, the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company, would add more U.S. food makers to its portfolio. The most likely deal analysts have suggested is for Kraft Heinz to buy Mondelez International, which split from the Kraft Foods business in 2012. General Mills, among others, has surfaced in the past as a potential target for Kraft Heinz.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




See the Finalists for Ad Age's Creativity Awards

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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How Brands Targeted China's International Travelers During the Lunar New Year

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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During the Lunar New Year in China, people head to their hometowns for family reunions, piling into cars, buses, trains and planes and braving epic traffic jams and generalized chaos. Workers have seven days off, one of two annual "golden weeks," as they're called, and everyone's on the move at the same time.

But a new trend is emerging: Some people are getting away from it all and traveling abroad instead. And marketers are taking note.

This year, 6.15 million Chinese people made overseas trips, up 7% from last year, according to official statistics. China' international travelers are young (over a third are ages 25-34); about 69% say they prefer destinations where they can buy luxury goods, according to a study from Aviator, the travel marketing arm of WPP's Kinetic. The report also points out that 74 million "travel-ready millennials" will be graduating from Chinese universities over the next 10 years.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Inside the Health Data Industry's Opaque Diagnosis: A Q&A With Author of 'Our Bodies, Our Data'

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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As the Reuters bureau chief for the Balkans living in Serbia from 2008-2011, Adam Tanner grew accustomed to maneuvering in the shadows in places with authoritarian tendencies in the hopes of illuminating what was really happening in government and society. Turns out his experiences attempting to uncover practices of the data industry aren't much different in that way.

"Having also worked for five years in Russia in the 1990s, I would say the similarities are that there are many opaque corners of these societies that authorities would rather not shed light on," said Mr. Tanner, author of "Our Bodies, Our Data," his second book on the topic of the data industry. "Similarly, many in the big health data bazaar would prefer to continue their lucrative trade without much public attention."

The fact that the health, pharma and medical data sector, not unlike the data industry as a whole, is less-than-transparent is no secret. In fact, the subject has been covered here in Ad Age (which, coincidentally, has its roots in the medical industry through Crain's very first publication in 1916, Hospital Management).

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Why Clorox Turned to Kickstarter to Help Fund Venture With Startup

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500

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Clorox Co. may not be the biggest packaged-goods player, but with $5.8 billion in annual sales, it could easily scrape up a five-figure cash investment anytime it wants. So why did its Soy Vay brand turn to Kickstarter recently to help fund a new venture with startup Three Jerks Jerky?

"It really starts with the strategy of our Emerging Brands Group," said Adam Simons, who heads the unit at Clorox, including Soy Vay. "One of the pillars of the strategy was trying to align our emerging brand with others in the marketplace. There's so much going on in food and beverage today, but all the interesting stuff is happening at the under-$25 million companies all the trends, all the interesting flavors, all the interesting business models."

Mr. Simons and his cross-functional group wanted to partner with a jerky brand on a Teriyaki flavor. Three Jerks, an emerging brand based not far away in Southern California, "was the only company at the top of our list that made sense," Mr. Simons said. "The Kickstarter thing just kind of naturally evolved, where we said it made sense as an awareness driver, as a way to build one-to-one connections with consumers in a way that's very important to us and, frankly, as a way to cut against the grain of typical product launches in CPG."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Samsung Group Heir Jay Y. Lee Is Arrested on Bribery Allegations

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:50:00 -0500

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Samsung Group's Jay Y. Lee was formally arrested on allegations of bribery, perjury and embezzlement, an extraordinary step that jeopardizes the executive's ascent to the top role at the world's biggest smartphone maker.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant for Mr. Lee's arrest early Friday. Including procedural steps and appeals, it may take as long as 18 months for a trial and verdict. The decision was made because of the risk that he might destroy evidence or flee, a court spokesperson said.

Investigators are looking into whether the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. was involved in providing as much as $38 million to benefit a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in exchange for government support of his management succession. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Lee, 48, funded Ms. Park's associates as he tried to consolidate control over the sprawling conglomerate founded by his grandfather.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Remember Zima? Clear Malt Beverage Is Poised for Comeback

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:19:00 -0500

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Zima could be coming back zoon. MillerCoors is poised to reintroduce the 1990s-era clear malt beverage that was once advertised as "zomething different."

Beer Business Daily on Thursday reported that the brand is already in distributor warehouses and will "allegedly be offered for a limited time only." A MillerCoors spokesman told Ad Age that "more news [is] coming soon" and that "if you're one of the zillion fans who have missed Zima, the answer should be clear."

Originally owned by Coors, the malt beverage surged out of the gate in the early 1990s, before falling on hard times. It was eventually discontinued in the U.S. several years ago, but is still sold in Japan.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Zucker: CNN Brand Not Tarnished By President Trump

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 15:15:00 -0500

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CNN CEO Jeff Zucker isn't concerned about how President Donald Trump's criticism is impacting the cable news behemoth -- in fact, it seems like his attacks are only helping to fuel ratings.

CNN commissioned, what Mr. Zucker called its largest-ever brand study to assess if the White House was in fact tarnishing the CNN brand. "We are still incredibly trusted," Mr. Zucker told press on Thursday during a lunch hosted by CNN parent Turner.

It also hasn't spooked advertisers, with Turner President David Levy noting that CNN is having a record quarter of ad sales.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Snapchat Looks to Bring 'MythBusters,' 'Shark Week' Shows to App

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:00 -0500

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If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.

That's not just the "MythBusters" motto, but apparently the motto for every entertainment and news brand when it comes to Snapchat.

On Thursday, the messaging and media app announced a partnership with Discovery Communications to develop content like "MythBusters" and "Shark Week" for the mobile screen.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




UAW Plans 'Buy American' Ad Campaign

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:53:00 -0500

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The UAW is planning to launch a "buy American" advertising campaign.

Automotive News reports that at a meeting with reporters on Thursday, UAW President Dennis Williams said he is "in discussions" to produce ads to encourage U.S. customers to buy union-made cars manufactured in America. The idea was inspired by a revived buy American sentiment that has been growing since the 2008 recession.

"I haven't seen it this way for many years," Mr. Williams said. "People now know the impact of an economy that is reckless in trade and policies and how it impacts their lives."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Premium Publishers Tell P&G's Pritchard They Can Solve His Digital Ad Problems

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:41:42 -0500

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An association of well-known publishers has responded to the recent call by Procter & Gamble to clean up digital advertising or lose access to P&G's massive budgets, arguing that advertising with high-quality websites is one way out of the digital mess.

P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard last month told the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting in Hollywood, Fla., that the marketer would stop paying for any digital media, ad tech services, agencies or others that don't adhere to industry standards for fraud protection, viewability and third-party verification.

"The days of giving digital a pass are over," Mr. Pritchard said, asking other marketers to take the same line. "It's time to grow up. It's time for action."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




This Sparkling Ice Ad Is Entirely Upside Down (on Purpose)

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:35:00 -0500

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Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new and trending TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention analytics from 10 million+ smart TVs. The New Releases here ran on TV for the first time yesterday. The Most Engaging ads are ranked by digital activity (including online views and social shares) over the past week.

Among the new releases, Sparkling Ice kicks off its "Be Not Bland" campaign with a family seated at a dinner table; everything's upside down, but gravity still seems to work selectively, which results in flying objects (meatloaf, Sparkling Ice, a house cat). Walmart previews "The Receipt," a campaign it'll run during the Academy Awards telecast (Jack Neff reported about it in January: "Walmart Goes Hollywood, Tapping Star Directors for Oscars Campaign"). And Starbucks serves up a tagline -- "Good mornings start here" -- in a high-energy spot designed to make you think of the coffee chain as your daily first destination.

Continue reading at AdAge.com







Marketing Makeover for Ralph Lauren: Brand Hires First CMO

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:45:00 -0500

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More change is afoot at Ralph Lauren Corp. The 50-year-old fashion brand has hired its first chief marketing officer as the company strives to create a more cohesive brand voice and marketing strategy. Jonathan Bottomley will start as the top marketer at the New York-based retailer on April 3. Mr. Bottomley was briefly a strategy officer at Virtue, Vice Media's ad agency. Before that, he served at top London shops including BBH and TBWA.

"As we write our next chapter, we continue to add exceptionally strong leaders with passion, energy and talent to lead our company into the future," said Mr. Lauren, who serves as executive chairman and chief creative officer of the company he founded, in a statement. He noted the company's evolution.

A marketing makeover, or an expanded effort in the department, might help the brand strengthen its consumer focus as it deals with sales declines. Ralph Lauren has struggled in recent years to convince trend-driven consumers to buy its classic wares, and last year introduced a restructuring turnaround plan under then-chief executive Stefan Larsson. The plan is still underway, though Mr. Larsson recently announced he will depart the company in May as a result of differences in opinion over direction. A highly regarded retail executive credited with reviving sales at Old Navy and H&M, Mr. Larsson's tenure was briefhe joined Ralph Lauren in November of 2015. A search is underway for a new CEO.

Continue reading at AdAge.com




What Online Retailers Can Learn From Amazon

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500

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Only five years ago, Amazon ranked 15th behind Sears and Publix in the National Retail Foundation's list of top 100 retailers, with $26 billion in sales. Today, Amazon runs in a league of its own with $80 billion in online sales, eclipsing second place Walmart's $13 billion by sixfold. Moreover, while Macy's, Gap, Nordstrom, Target and others posted disappointing sales and stock performance last year, Amazon knocked it out of the park with 16% growth. And last but not least, here's the final jewel IN the crown: Amazon has become the most relevant brand to millennials in America.

How did Amazon do it? How did it build its e-commerce empire over a relatively short period of time?

It's undeniable that Amazon's founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos' relentless business innovation -- from the widely popular Amazon Prime subscription service and free two-day shipping to one-click purchases -- has played a key role in winning the hearts and wallets of more than 300 million Amazon customers worldwide. Amazon's secret sauce is predicated upon a simple truth about human behavior: consumers buy when the act of buying is simple, easy and convenient. This is reflected in a recent consumer survey in which millennials reported that Amazon represents "a powerhouse of pragmatism, [and] is No. 1 in every measure of usefulness and dependability."

Continue reading at AdAge.com




Snap Seeks to Raise as Much as $3.2 Billion in IPO Even as User Growth Slows

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 07:49:57 -0500

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Snap Inc. is seeking to raise as much as $3.2 billion in its initial public offering in what could be the third-biggest technology listing of the past decade.

The maker of disappearing-photo application Snapchat is offering 200 million Class A shares for $14 to $16 apiece, according to a filing Thursday. At the high end of the range, that would give it a market value of about $18.5 billion, based on the total shares to be outstanding after the offering.

Of the technology and communications IPOs since 2007, Snap's offering is poised to trail only Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s $25 billion share sale and Facebook Inc.'s $16 billion raise. It's also set to be the first U.S. listing from that industry this year, according to Bloomberg data.

Continue reading at AdAge.com