Brands Brief: BuzzFeed Gets Another $200 Million Injection From NBCUniversal

Top Stories

  • Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal made another $200 million investment in BuzzFeed Inc. in an a move designed to expand the company’s advertising options. As a result of the injection, BuzzFeed will have increased digital capabilities, and it’s now valued at $1.7 billion. (Bloomberg News)
  • The Justice Department is investigating Seaboard Corp., which counts Butterball turkey among its brands, for potential ties to a firm with alleged connections to Hezbollah. The criminal probe aims to determine whether the Kansas-based company maintained a business relationship with an African firm after it was added to the U.S. terror blacklist. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Apple Inc. is participating in Black Friday again, a change from last year’s decision to sit out the post-Thanksgiving shopping day. While the company is pointing customers toward its Apple Store app, some brick-and-mortar stores will have extended hours on Nov. 25. (Business Insider)
  • Facebook Inc. is throwing more effort behind its Facebook Live feature, this time with real-time ads brands and publishers can use to tease livestreams. The ads would be appear in users’ feeds, while brands now just have the option of creating a sponsored post to attract people to broadcasts. (Digiday)
  • Volkswagen said it needs to focus its energies on the Americas to help its brand rebound in the wake of last year’s emissions cheating scandal. The German automaker is looking to introduce new sport utility vehicles, limousines and electric cars. (Reuters)

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Advertising and Marketing

NBCUniversal Makes Another $200 Million Investment in BuzzFeed
Gerry Smith, Bloomberg News

Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal made its second $200 million investment in BuzzFeed Inc., deepening ties between the two companies in online video and advertising. The latest funding will let NBC and BuzzFeed work more closely together on ad sales, like producing more short-form digital video for advertisers and sharing it across social media.

Facebook is testing real-time ads for live videos
Yuyu Chen, Digiday

Facebook is pouring resources into making Facebook Live catch on, even running outdoor ads for the service to teach people how and when to use it. Now, Facebook is testing real-time ads brands and publishers can use to alert people to live broadcasts.

A huge problem plaguing Nike just hit Under Armour
Dennis Green, Business Insider

When it comes to sales, it looks like basketball apparel and shoes are no longer the MVP. Sales of the Curry 3 — the newest shoe in Under Armour’s much-lauded collaboration with basketball superstar Steph Curry — are already looking questionable, indicating that some of the trouble Nike is experiencing with basketball shoes has made its way to UA.

The Founders Of Sweetgreen Are Building A Farm-To-Counter Empire, One Bowl At A Time
Mickey Rapkin, Fast Company

McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said of his restaurants, “We’re not in the hamburger business, we’re in show business.” That is perhaps the one thing he and the millennial founders of the fast-growing locavore salad chain Sweetgreen might agree on.

Forget Filling Ad Breaks; Some Marketers Make the Podcasts
Rob Walker, The New York Times

For a brand seeking to reach the podcast-listening public, there is one thing better than sponsoring a hit series: creating your own. General Electric pulled it off last year with its quaintly named GE Podcast Theater.

Media and Entertainment

Donald Trump Met Privately With Network Executives And Anchors
Michael Calderone, The Huffington Post

President-elect Donald Trump met privately with top network executives and anchors at Trump Tower on Monday for an off-the-record gathering that comes amid serious concerns about the level of access journalists will receive from the incoming White House. The who’s who of TV news included network presidents, such as NBC’s Deborah Turness and ABC’s James Goldston, and high-profile anchors like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ Video Generated FCC Indecency Complaints
Amir Nasr, Morning Consult

Almost two dozen people filed indecency complaints with the Federal Communications Commission over the broadcast of a leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape of President-elect Donald Trump, but it didn’t appear to be a coordinated campaign, according to documents obtained by Morning Consult. While the complaints centered on news networks’ airing the tape, there weren’t any complaints about coverage of sexual assault allegations against Trump.

Social Media and Technology

Apple just announced it’s doing Black Friday after dropping the event last year
Hannah Roberts, Business Insider

Apple has announced a one-day shopping event this Friday via a new section on its website, rejoining the Black Friday tradition it dropped last year. The Cupertino company appears to be focusing its Black Friday efforts on ecommerce this year.

Social Customer Service Will Rule the 2017 Holiday Season
Kimberlee Morrison, Adweek

The holiday marketing campaigns are underway and consumers are gearing up for the height of shopping season. While everyone seems prepared, it’s important to note that consumers have expectations when it comes to social messaging and communication with brands during the holiday season.

Is that you, Snapchat? Instagram rolls out ephemeral messages
Selena Larson, CNN

Instagram is going after Snapchat again, but this time it’s targeting its core concept. The Facebook-owned app rolled out a series of new features on Monday, including one that lets users send disappearing photos and videos.

Amazon Explores Possible Premium Sports Package With Prime Membership
Shalini Ramachandran, The Wall Street Journal

Amazon.com Inc. is exploring an ambitious offensive aimed at infiltrating the last bastion of traditional pay-television: live sports. In recent months, the e-commerce giant has been in talks for live game rights with heavy-hitters like the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League, as well as smaller players like Major League Soccer, the Atlantic Coast Conference, college sports network Campus Insiders, 120 Sports, National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse and World Surf League, the people said.

Facebook, Google and now Verizon are accelerating their tracking efforts despite consumers’ privacy concerns
Jason Kint, Recode

Verizon has topped itself by playing Russian roulette with consumer trust in an attempt to compete with the advertising businesses of Google and Facebook. In an email announcement last Sunday night to select subscribers, Verizon signaled how it intends to compete with those two powerhouses, outlining its plan to combine offline information, such as postal address, email address and device type, with AOL browser cookies, Apple and Google advertising IDs, and their own unique identifier header.

PR and Communications

Terror Finance Abroad Touches Thanksgiving at Home
Rob Barry and Christopher S. Stewart, The Wall Street Journal

An American food producer that counts Butterball turkeys among its brands has done millions of dollars of business in Africa with a company blacklisted by U.S. authorities for supporting terror, The Wall Street Journal has found. The Justice Department, as part of a broad criminal probe, is investigating whether Kansas-based Seaboard Corp. tried to mask wheat-flour sales to firms linked to a Lebanese businessman and his family in the years after he and two brothers were put on the government’s terror blacklist in 2009 and 2010.

Volkswagen puts conquering Americas at heart of turnaround plan
Andreas Cremer, Reuters

Volkswagen is putting the Americas at the heart of the turnaround plan for its core VW brand, pinning its hopes on new higher-margin SUVs and electric cars to rebuild its image following the diesel emissions cheating scandal. Europe’s biggest carmaker is battling to recover from the biggest business crisis in its history after admitting last year to cheating U.S. diesel emissions tests.

Check Your Hummus, Sabra Just Issued A 57-Product Recall
Christopher Osburn, Uproxx

If you’re like many people across the country, you have a tub of hummus lurking somewhere in your fridge right now. Well, you might not want to crack the lid on that bad boy just yet.

Cigna’s ‘TV Doctors’ campaign irks real ER docs
Susan Young, Ragan’s PR Daily

Communicators know that a sense of humor is extremely personal. Cigna’s well-received “Take Control” ad campaign, featuring TV doctors portraying real-life physicians, hasn’t left everyone smiling.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Patagonia Will Donate 100% of Its Black Friday Sales to Helping the Environment
Kristina Monllos, Adweek

Patagonia plans to donate 100 percent of its sales on Black Friday, Nov. 25, to the environment. The company will donate that money to small grassroots organizations that fight for clean water, air and soil.

Why REI closes on the most critical shopping day of the year
Hayley Peterson, Business Insider

Black Friday is the most critical shopping day of the year for most retailers. Companies like Walmart, Amazon, Target, and others spend all year gearing up for the day-long shopping frenzy, which falls on the day after Thanksgiving every year.

Op-Eds, Perspectives and Research

Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds
Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall Street Journal

Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.

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