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Advertising Age - Latest News

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Newsmax Wants FCC to Delay Sinclair's Deal for Tribune

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:24:24 -0400


Newsmax Media wants federal regulators to slow their review of Sinclair Broadcast Group's proposed $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media, saying the deal raises concerns about media concentration.

"I am calling for delay," Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, a conservative outlet with a 24-hour cable news channel, said in an interview. "I think it needs more vetting."

Ruddy, a friend of President Donald Trump, adds a conservative voice to liberal critics of the deal who are wary of Sinclair building a network of local stations featuring the company's pro-Trump commentary.

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Seven Agency Groups Make the Cut for McDonald's Local Advertising

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:24:35 -0400


McDonald's and its franchisees have picked seven agency groups to handle local advertising for the chain across the United States, Ad Age has learned.

Previously, about 60 agencies handled local advertising for nearly 200 cooperative groups across the country. Now it appears that just seven agencies will handle the load going forward. They'll be working with a smaller number of co-ops, perhaps fewer than 100, as McDonald's adjusts the composition of its regional groups nationwide.

According to multiple sources familiar with the pitch process, McDonald's appears to have selected seven groups to be certified as agencies that can work with the co-ops. Bernstein-Rein and Fahlgren, which each worked with McDonald's co-ops in the past, are collaborating as a team. So are two other incumbents, Moroch and Stern. Davis Elen and H&L are two other incumbents that have been selected, sources said. And it appears three newcomers are set to join the roster: Doner, Lopez Negrete and Zimmerman.

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Yahoo Asserts 'OG' Fantasy Sports Status in New Campaign

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:50:00 -0400


Yahoo is looking to reassert itself as the "OG of fantasy sports" in a new ad campaign called "Feel the Wins," developed in partnership with the company's new creative agency, Sid Lee.

Although Yahoo was one of the early powers in fantasy sports, where consumers pick teams online and compete in seasonlong leagues, it has been besieged by competitors including CBS and ESPN, which can promote their fantasy products using their extensive media platform, and upstarts DraftKings and FanDuel, which let players pick new teams every week.

Sid Lee, part of Japan's Hakuhodo, won the business following a competitive pitch process this spring. Omnicom's BBDO New York previously worked on a project for Yahoo around Fantasy Football. Representatives from BBDO declined to comment.

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Watch the Newest Ads on TV From Walt Disney World, Subway, Home Depot and More

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:30:00 -0400


Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from 10 million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: Walt Disney World plugs its elaborate "Pandora: The World of Avatar" attraction. The Home Depot says that "stunning doesn't have to be stunningly expensive" to encourage you to do a quick makeover of your (dated) bathroom. And Subway hypes its current $6 footlong sandwich special in an ad that emphasizes its own ad-ness (an announcer calls attention to a blinking starburst graphic that says "$6 each LIMITED TIME").

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Snap Hires Swiss Team Behind Software Protection Startup

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:59:44 -0400


Snap Inc. has quietly acquired the team behind Swiss startup Strong.Codes, a maker of tools that obscures software code and makes it harder for competitors to copy.

In early 2017 Snap hired Laurent Balmelli, an engineer who co-founded Strong.Codes. The rest of the four-strong team has since joined Balmelli, according to a person familiar with the move and information on their LinkedIn profile pages. The new hires will remain working in Switzerland. Strong.Codes has since closed.

Snap has also placed advertisements seeking to hire information security experts and cryptographers in Switzerland, and has been slowly increasing its European presence. It's one of the lead sponsors at Black Alps 17, a cybersecurity conference at Yverdon-les-Bains, northeast of Geneva, and in May hired Facebook Inc.'s Marianne Bullwinkel as country manager for Germany, Austria, Switzerland.

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Spicer Resigns After Trump Hires Scaramucci as White House Communications Director

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:58:00 -0400


White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned on Friday after President Donald Trump hired financier Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director, a White House official said.

The White House communications staff were meeting in Spicer's office Friday morning after news of his departure was reported.

Scaramucci, 53, a campaign fundraiser for Trump and regular adviser during the presidential transition, has been mentioned for multiple jobs in the administration, most recently as ambassador to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He's also been considered as head of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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What U.S. Brands Are Most at Risk From a Possible China Trade War?

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:32:00 -0400


U.S. companies need to prepare for greater tension between the Trump administration and China. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross opened high-level economic talks on July 19 by scolding China over its trade surplus. That doesn't necessarily signal a trade war is imminent -- the two countries have come through other rocky patches since Donald Trump became U.S. president. Still, Trump is weighing whether to restrict imports of Chinese steel and aluminum, a move that could prompt retaliation from President Xi Jinping. Such tit-for-tat actions could lead to a Chinese backlash against American businesses. The following are among those most at risk:

1. Hollywood

The movie studios want more access to China, where foreign releases accounted for 61% of box office sales in the first half of 2017. China allows about three dozen foreign films to be imported on a revenue-sharing basis -- with the studio only getting 25%. Hollywood wants a higher number of imports and better revenue splits. Negotiations are ongoing, and the U.S. could take China to the World Trade Organization if the two sides don't reach an agreement by the start of 2018.

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Advertising Hall of Fame Interview: Kay Koplovitz Equates Chaos With Opportunity

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:09:44 -0400


When Kay Koplovitz founded the first ad-supported cable channel, USA Network, in 1977, cable needed bundles of channels to succeed. Now, viewers are unbundling, making it "a very challenging time for advertising," Kay told me prior to her induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

An advertiser's message needs to be seen by "the exact person to whom it's going to matter," she said. "People don't mind the advertising, but they don't want to watch the advertising that doesn't address them. It's a chaotic time [and] a fascinating time."

Kay said she's been surprised at how quickly some of the upstart streaming channels like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have produced "high-caliber" programming. And they've fostered the growth of binge viewing, a phenomenon that the established cable networks were forced to copy.

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Small Agency Conference Video: Don't Get Swindled When You Invest in IP

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:25:00 -0400


"Sometimes agency folks are too nice, and too naive, and don't realize they're getting swindled until it's too late," said Eric DeMaso, global chief marketing officer at Anomaly, in this quick primer on investing in intellectual property, filmed at Ad Age's annual Small Agency Conference.

Also from the conference, Barton F. Graf's Jeff Benjamin delivered 3 brisk tips on surviving advertising, Kastner & Partner's Brandon Rochon explained how small agencies should invest in start-ups and Sean McInerney, the tech VP at tech-savvy agency Huge, provided some concise thoughts on tech investing.

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Agency Brief: Beer, Wrestling and 'Salt Ed'

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:42:11 -0400


Howdy, ya'll! Whoops, sorry. I'm still in Nashville mode, where we held our Small Agency Conference and Awards this week. Congratulations again to all of the winners, especially our Agency of the Year Gold honoree, Terri & Sandy.

While it may seem like a slow summer Friday, we have lots of fun stuff for you in this week's Agency Brief, which was a lovely team effort (thank you, fellow Ad Agers).

Miller Lite-to-DDB Brews Too Much Excitement

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Discovery Interest in Scripps Driven by Visions of $3 TV Bundle

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:15:05 -0400


Discovery Communications wants to offer web-TV service for the price of a Starbucks latte and sees HGTV's owner as a key part of it.

Discovery is one of two companies, along with Viacom, vying to buy Scripps Networks Interactive, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The negotiations are at advanced stages and a deal could be announced by the end of the month, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Both see the parent of HGTV and the Food Network as a solid addition to their own channel lineups.

But Discovery has an added reason. With pay TV having to compete with online options like Netflix, the owner of unscripted channels like Animal Planet and TLC wants to bundle the Scripps networks with its own in an online service for as little as $3 to $4 a month, a person familiar with the company's thinking said. Discovery has already weighed selling a sports-free service with programmers like Viacom and AMC Networks for less than $20 a month, Bloomberg reported in April.

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You Are Not Your Customer

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 09:47:44 -0400


Most business books will tell you that the secret to success is grounded in becoming a customer of your own products and services. Put yourself in customers' shoes to see how they interact with your product and what the overall experience feels like. The main idea is that being a good customer will make you a good leader.

That idea is wrong.

All too often, leaders think that their personal experiences with their brand are accurate reflections of all customers' experiences with their brand. They make decisions based on what would personally make them happier, and focus on details of the experience that matter to them. In doing so, however, they forget that many (if not most) customers have different needs, interests and experiences.

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Marcel Is Just a Baby Compared to JWT's Pangaea

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 07:00:00 -0400

Nearly two years before Publicis dropped its Marcel news at the Cannes Lions, JWT embarked on an artificial intelligence mission of its own. In 2015, the agency quietly began developing Pangaea, an A.I.-powered system that's helping to turn the agency network's 12,000-strong staff into an information and problem-solving resource.

Pangaea takes its cues from the supercontinent that inspired its name -- by bringing together the JWT community across all cultures and disciplines. It invites any employee to pose a question or problem to the entire network in the hopes that they'll get useful advice from staffers with related experience and expertise. A question could be as specific as "What kind of communication innovation do you expect to see in the next World Cup?" or as philosophical as "What does the word 'destiny' mean to you?'"

While this may sounds like little more than throwing out a question over email or Slack, artificial intelligence acts as a differentiator.

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Grey Finds a New Beauty Client in Revlon, Which Consolidates Global Ad Accounts With WPP

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:55:00 -0400


Revlon has consolidated its $400-million plus multi-brand global advertising account with WPP's Grey and Mediacom, the company said.

The move was made possible when Grey earlier this year parted with Coty, whose brands include CoverGirll and Clairol, citing "financial differences." Coty later said the key piece of the business, CoverGirl, moved to Droga5 "based on creative merit," not financials.

Either way, Revlon appears happy with Grey. In a memo to Revlon staff, Revlon CEO Fabian Garcia said Grey has "a long track record and deep expertise in the beauty industry." The agency will provide "integrated communications services, including traditional and digital advertising and promotion and activation marketing for our brands, including Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, Almay, CND, Cutex, Sinful and many of our key fragrance brands, including Charlie, Britney Spears, Curve, Tapout and Elizabeth Taylor," Garcia said.

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Why AB InBev's Non-Alcoholic Drink Acquisition is Buzzworthy

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:41:57 -0400


As sales of big beer brands continue to slide, Anheuser Busch InBev on Thursday moved further into non-alcoholic drinks. The world's largest brewer scooped up U.S. organic energy drink maker Hiball in a deal that's expected to close in the third quarter. It's a small acquisition; San Francisco-based Hiball only has 20 employees. But the deal is still buzzworthy for signaling that AB InBev is moving beyond beer. Here's what you need to know:

What exactly does Hiball make?

Organic energy drinks and "sparkling energy waters" under the Hiball name, as well as a brand of organic sparkling juices and sparkling waters called Alta Pall (which means "high ball" in Italian). Hiball founder Todd Berardi began selling the drinks out of the back of his car in San Francisco in 2005, according to the brand. He later married the brand's graphic designer, Alyssa Warnock.

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Murdoch Wait Goes On as U.K. Pushes Back Fox-Sky Review

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:11:21 -0400


Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox must wait for further progress on its bid to buy Sky after the U.K. government said it needed more time to weigh its next move.

The U.K. will decide in coming weeks whether to send the 11.7 billion pound ($15.2 billion) bid for a six-month regulatory review, Culture Minister Karen Bradley told lawmakers Thursday in Parliament. Bradley said she may announce her decision during the body's summer recess, which starts Thursday and ends in early September, breaking with tradition to expedite the process.

The possibility of an announcement during the break drew protests from opposition politicians, highlighting the pressure being brought on Bradley, a member of the ruling Conservative Party, by the Murdochs and their detractors. Bradley said she was still inclined to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority for an investigation into the Murdoch family's media influence, and left open the chance of a wider probe revisiting their past corporate-governance failings.

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Chipotle Falls Again as Norovirus and Mice Steal Spotlight

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:04:57 -0400


Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s rough week isn't over yet.

Shares of the burrito chain fell for a fifth day after it was hit by a fresh wave of damaging reports, dragging the stock down to its lowest level since last November. The number of people who claim to have been sickened by a Chipotle location in Virginia has now climbed above 130. And in Texas, customers complained to local news about rodents dropping from the ceiling of a restaurant.

The negative headlines have tarred what was supposed to be a marketing coup for the Denver-based company. It rolled out a new campaign on Wednesday featuring RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, aiming to tout the quality of the chain's ingredients.

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Unilever Cuts Agency Fees and Production Costs, but a Media Surge Looms

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:21:02 -0400


Unilever's 3% organic sales growth was slightly below analyst projections for the second quarter, but the company handily beat expectations on earnings and margin thanks to lower agency and production costs. Still, the world's second biggest ad spender plans to step up new-product launches and media in the second half.

Here are five key takeaways from today's earnings announcement by the marketer of Dove, Axe, Hellmann's and Seventh Generation.

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Omnicom's Organic Growth in North America Slows to 0.2%

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:23:00 -0400


A strong performance in the rest of the world helped Omnicom Group post organic growth of 3.5% for the second quarter, but the North American market slowed to just 0.2% growth, down from 1.1% in the first quarter of 2017.

And even that 3.5% organic growth rate for the second quarter, compared to the same period last year, was a slowdown from 4.4% in the first quarter. (Organic growth excludes acquisitions and foreign exchange fluctuations).

On a call presided over by President-CEO John Wren, Omnicom reported that worldwide revenue was down by 2.4% in the second quarter to $3.79 billion, from $3.88 billion in the second quarter of 2016. The company attributed that to the impact of foreign exchange movements, and to fewer acquisitions.

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Chili's Picks O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul for Campaign as It Seeks a Rebound

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:20:58 -0400


Chili's Grill & Bar has hired O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul for a major marketing project as the chain tries to reverse recent trends, Ad Age has learned.

Like the broader casual dining industry, Chili's has been struggling as diners opt to eat at home or at less expensive restaurants. It has also suffered from the rise of ecommerce, which has reduced consumers' trips to the shopping malls near which chains like Chili's often put stores.

Chili's is no longer working on creative projects with Hill Holliday, which was its agency of record for almost a decade, though Hill Holliday appears to still be handling some media work for the brand.

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Watch the Newest Ads on TV From Sprint, Xfinity, Dannon and More

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:10:00 -0400


Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from 10 million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: Dannon says it's "rethinking light yogurt" with its Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt line (e.g., it has no artificial sweeteners). Xfinity Mobile promotes its "pay per gig" and unlimited plans, pointing out that you can easily switch between those options when you want. And Sprint strikes directly at Verizon, creating a parody of the latter's ubiquitious ads starring Thomas "Silicon Valley" Middleditch.

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Sears to Integrate Alexa Into Appliances and Start Selling on Amazon

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:46:55 -0400


Shares in Sears Holdings kicked off their biggest rally in almost two months after the company agreed to sell its Kenmore line on and integrate Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa into the appliances. That means the company's air conditioners and other devices will respond to voice commands.

Terms of the partnership weren't disclosed, and it's unclear how much of a boost Sears will get from the arrangement. But the company is badly in need of growth. Once the world's largest retail chain, Sears has racked up more than $10 billion in losses over the past six years.

The announcement brings fresh hope that Sears can adapt to a rapidly shifting retail landscape. Department-store chains have been hard hit by sluggish mall traffic and online shopping. By teaming up with Amazon, Sears brings new life to its more-than-century-old Kenmore name and opens up a new sales channel.

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Google Launches Ad Campaign #OnGoogleMaps

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 12:29:00 -0400


Google's next earnings call is slated for Monday.

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Somewhat Surprisingly, Trump Just 'Startled Many in the West Wing'

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:55:00 -0400


Ad Age "Media Guy" columnist Simon Dumenco's media roundup for the morning of Thursday, July 20:

Surprise! Donald Trump still has the capacity to surprise -- not only the American public but those who work closely with him. That's something of an accomplishment, right? Perhaps a major (or even huge) accomplishment. And, go figure, he used the "fake media" to do it. Anyway, let's get started ...

1. A Politico post this morning headlined "Trump goes off-script and fumes about Sessions and Russia probe" (subhead: "The president's harsh criticism of his attorney general and the Russia probe came amid a last-ditch effort to salvage health care reform, and startled many in the West Wing") makes POTUS sound practically bipolar. Josh Gerstein, Josh Dawsey and Darren Samuelsohn write,

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Sadoun Presents Results for First Time as Publicis Returns to Growth in U.S.

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:44:00 -0400


Publicis Groupe's new CEO Arthur Sadoun appeared relaxed as he presented improved quarterly results to analysts for the first time today.

Sadoun took over from predecessor Maurice Lvy who had earned a reputation as a great storyteller during his 30 years in the role on June 1.

Luckily, the new CEO had some encouraging second-quarter numbers to present, with group revenue at $2.89 billion. Organic growth (excluding acquisitions) reached 0.8% in the second quarter, compared to the same period last year. That was a marked improvement over the 1.2% decline in the first quarter of 2017.

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NBA Commish: Legalized Sports Gambling Is a Safe Bet

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:22:07 -0400


In an unprecedented public gathering of the heads of the nation's top sports leagues, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday made a bold prediction about a topic his colleagues would just as soon sweep under the nearest rug: He believes sports gambling will be legalized in the United States.

Speaking at the Paley Center for Media's "GameChangers" panel, Silver said he thinks the laws that keep sports books quarantined in Nevada and three other states eventually will fall by the wayside.

"My sense is that the law will change in the next few years in the United States, and I think it's not as much a matter of our leagues being for or against sports betting, it's more a function of being realists," Silver said. "It's a multi-hundred-billion-dollar illegal industry and I think ultimately, as the owners of our intellectual property, we're going to embrace it and also make sure that our integrity is protected at the same time."

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Small Agency Conference Video: Advice on Investing in Tech

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:37:43 -0400


Sean McInerney, VP-technology at Huge, has some thoughts on small agencies' approach to tech investing that you really ought to hear. Recorded at Ad Age's annual Small Agency Conference, which took place this year in Nashville.

Also from the conference, Barton F. Graf's Jeff Benjamin delivered 3 brisk tips on surviving advertising and Kastner & Partner's Brandon Rochon explained how small agencies should invest in start-ups.

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Terri & Sandy, Eleven Win Top Honors at the Small Agency Awards

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 22:30:45 -0400


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Small Agency Conference Video: How to Invest in Start-Ups

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 20:42:50 -0400


Brandon Rochon, managing chief creative officer at Kastner & Partners, told us at our Small Agency Conference exactly how he goes about investing in start-ups.

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Under Armour Chases Women's Business in New Campaign

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 20:28:23 -0400

Under Armour is going hard after female shoppers with perhaps its most ambitious campaign targeting women. On Wednesday, the Baltimore-based sportswear brand debuted "Unlike Any," a digital push featuring the physical exploits of well-known athletes such as ballerina Misty Copeland, stuntwoman Jessie Graff and world champion sprinter Natasha Hastings.

The women's business "is a huge opportunity," said Attica Jaques, who joined Under Armour as VP, global brand marketing for women's and youth last year. She noted that executives conceived of the idea for the campaign last summer during the Olympics, when much of the news about record-breaking women only compared them to their male counterparts.

Nike is the leader in both men's and women's activewear. Under Armour commands 7.1% of men's and 3.8% of women's in the U.S. this year through May, according to the retailing tracking service of market research firm NPD Group.

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