Brands Brief: Companies Take Steps to Distance Themselves From the NRA

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  • At least a dozen businesses have pulled special rates or discounts to National Rifle Association members following the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people. Many of the companies said they took those steps in response to consumer complaints, but the NRA called the actions “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice,” adding that the firms were trying to punish its members who had nothing to do with the shooting. (The New York Times)
  • Excluding the closing ceremony, average viewership for the 2018 Winter Olympics was 20.6 million, down about 8 percent from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Friday’s primetime coverage drew a combined 9.2 rating in metered market households on NBC and NBC Sports Network, down about 12 percent from the previous low of a 10.4 rating on Feb. 17, and Saturday night’s household rating dropped to 8.7. (Variety)
  • As it nears its one-year anniversary this week as a publicly traded company, Snap Inc.’s future is largely uncertain. While Facebook Inc. and Instagram dwarf Snapchat on many important measures, some experts say Snapchat’s exclusiveness is where its value lies — and that a move toward growing its audience to incorporate older users comes with the risk of losing popularity among its younger users. (Morning Consult)

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A data-driven look at the future of mobility

An exclusive look at new survey research data that explores consumer receptivity to auto industry innovations, including electric and self-driving cars, energy sources, and even auto insurance.


Droga5 Lays Off 5 Percent Of New York Staff
Lindsay Stein, Advertising Age

Droga5 has laid off about 5 percent, which is approximately 40 people, in its New York office. The layoffs were across all major departments at the agency, including several people in HR. Droga5 declined to comment on specifics around the job cuts.

Wooing Millennials With Exotic Experiences That Aren’t Too Costly
Janet Morrissey, The New York Times

When Nicola Todd, 29, and Eva Mehesfalvi, 31, decided to visit Manhattan from England recently, they wanted a hotel that would be light on the pocketbook but big on the New York City experience. So instead of springing for a place with oversize rooms and round-the-clock room service, they chose the Moxy Times Square, which offered small but stylish rooms, quirky décor, lightning-fast Wi-Fi and eclectic lounge and bar areas, all at an affordable price.

Media and Entertainment

Winter Olympics Hit Back-to-Back Lows in Final Days
Joe Otterson, Variety

The closing days of the 2018 Winter Olympics saw steep declines in the Nielsen ratings. Friday night’s primetime coverage of the Games from Pyeongchang, South Korea, drew a combined 9.2 rating in metered market households on NBC and NBC Sports Network.

‘Black Panther’ roars past $700 million worldwide in week two
Frank Pallotta, CNN

“Black Panther” is still wearing the box office crown in its second weekend. The Disney and Marvel Studios film was the number one film in the U.S. for the second weekend in a row bringing in an estimated $108 million at the box office.

‘American Idol’ Signs On Macy’s And Zyrtec — Yes, Zyrtec — As Sponsors
Jeanine Poggi, Advertising Age

ABC’s reboot of “American Idol” is refocusing the show’s narrative to highlight the contestants’ journey. Gone will be bash sessions for embarrassing auditions; in their place, “Idol” will feature optimistic and heartwarming stories with advertiser-friendly storylines that have drawn two major sponsors in Macy’s and Zyrtec.

Weinstein Co. Sale Talks Collapse: No Choice But to Pursue Bankruptcy
Pamela McClintock and Gregg Kilday, The Hollywood Reporter

The Weinstein Co. appears headed for bankruptcy four months after larger-than-life film mogul Harvey Weinstein was brought down by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. Dropping a Sunday night bombshell, the board of TWC said it has no choice but to pursue bankruptcy in a sharply worded letter rebuking potential buyers Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle, who were part of a group of investors looking to redeem the film and production company.

Targeting ‘superfans’: How CBS is aggressively embracing streaming
Sahil Patel, Digiday

Jim Lanzone, the CEO of CBS Interactive and chief digital officer for parent company CBS, was in Toronto roughly a year ago to visit the set for “Star Trek: Discovery.” Produced by CBS Television Studios, the new sci-fi series takes place in the same expansive world created by Gene Roddenberry.

Can Edgy FX Thrive at Family-Friendly Disney?
Jason Lynch, Adweek

As much as FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf welcomes the return of American Crime Story and Atlanta to FX this winter, he still wishes the network could have had them back on the air last year, where their absence on year-end top 10 lists hurt the network’s position relative to its two biggest competitors for quality TV, HBO and Netflix. But that’s what happens when you work with visionaries like Ryan Murphy and Donald Glover—Landgraf calls them “unicorns”—who make the edgy, distinctive shows that have turned FX into one of TV’s most acclaimed, and most daring, networks.

Newsweek in Turmoil: Probe Into Finances and Ties to Bible College Widens
Lukas I. Alpert et al., The Wall Street Journal

Two years ago, a loan application from the parent company of Newsweek raised the suspicions of an employee at a small Minnesota bank. The bank staffer’s misgivings helped trigger what has become a wide-ranging fraud probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, people familiar with the matter say.

Gothamist, DCist and LAist are coming back from their sudden deaths
Hadas Gold, CNN

Four months after their billionaire owner shut them down, beloved local news sites Gothamist, DCist and LAist will soon be back online. Three public radio stations are behind the resurrection.

Social Media and Technology

How Adding Users Could Backfire for Snapchat
Joanna Piacenza and Anna Gronewold, Morning Consult

As it nears one year as a publicly traded company, Snap Inc.’s future is largely uncertain. Snapchat’s user base and revenue are on the rise, but its share price has declined over the past 12 months, with investors divided on its value.

Media buyers: Snapchat is focused on enabling commerce in ads
Shareen Pathak, Digiday

Snapchat is working on developing new commerce units to bolster its e-commerce offering, according to two media buyers who spoke to Digiday. It is unclear what the units are, although one buyer said he heard from his Snapchat rep that the unit is in beta.

Dropbox to go public 10 years after launch
Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

A decade after it was founded, Dropbox has filed to go public. The beloved, easy-to-use (if somewhat stagnant) file syncing service had documents unsealed at the SEC today revealing plans for an initial public offering, where Dropbox is looking to raise up to $500 million.

Hulu Puts Up a Fight Against Netflix, Amazon and Apple
John Koblin, The New York Times

Lawrence Wright was reluctant to adapt “The Looming Tower,” his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of Al Qaeda and the run-up to 9/11. But it wasn’t lost on him that the number of deals for scripted series was rapidly increasing each year — a development that went along with the sudden rise of the streaming industry.

How GDPR could weaken, not strengthen, the duopoly
Jessica Davies, Digiday

Consensus on whether Google and Facebook stand to win or lose as a result of Europe’s new data-privacy laws seems to be changing. Popular opinion has been that the direct relationship Facebook and Google have with consumers will make it easy for them to obtain consent, and as such they will ultimately be at an advantage.

PR and Marketing

A List of the Companies Cutting Ties With the N.R.A.
Jacey Fortin, The New York Times

Eight days after a gunman with an AR-15 rifle killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., a major bank cut ties with the National Rifle Association. The bank, the First National Bank of Omaha, was among the first businesses of at least a dozen to scrap special rates or discounts to the five million people the N.R.A. says it has as members.

Amazon, Google and Apple under pressure to remove NRA streaming channel
Elizabeth Weise, USA Today

Amazon, Apple, Google and Roku are under pressure to end streaming of the National Rifle Association’s NRAtv following the Parkland, Fla. school shooting that killed 17. Hollywood celebrities include “Law & Order: SVU” executive producer Warren Leight and actors Misha Collins, Evan Handler, Amy Hargreaves, Alyssa Milano, Tara Strong and Ally Walker on Thursday began pushing Amazon to stop streaming NRAtv, the NRA’s public relations channel, through Amazon Fire.

Facebook and Google Struggle to Squelch ‘Crisis Actor’ Posts
Jack Nicas and Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times

On Wednesday, one week after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Facebook and YouTube vowed to crack down on the trolls. Thousands of posts and videos had popped up on the sites, falsely claiming that survivors of the shooting were paid actors or part of various conspiracy theories. Facebook called the posts “abhorrent.”

Carl’s Jr. launches ad campaign as it tries to forge an identity separate from Hardee’s
Sarah Whitten, CNBC

Nearly a year after scrapping its provocative burger ads, Carl’s Jr. is still struggling to differentiate itself from its closest competitors and its partner brand, Hardee’s. On Monday, CKE Restaurants, which owns both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, launched a new advertising campaign that showcases the “crave-ability” of Carl’s Jr.’s menu.

Mich Ultra Goes Organic To Stay On Top Of Low-Cal Beer Boom
E.J. Schultz, Advertising Age

The beer wars are about to get a lot lighter. Corona and Amstel have introduced new low-cal beers as they chase Michelob Ultra, whose so-called superior light beer continues to surge.

WeWork, With $900 Million in Sales, Finds Cheaper Ways to Expand
Ellen Huet, Bloomberg

As WeWork Cos. has grown to 200 buildings across the globe, the company said its increased size is helping cut costs for everyday needs like glass, wood flooring, aluminum and light fixtures. Early signs of financial improvement are encouraging for a co-working business that critics say is overvalued and spends with abandon.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage was the best it’s been in years
Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

Was it just me, or was NBC’s coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang a lot better than it’s been in the past? Some of this might be how low a bar the network had to clear.

Protect the News From Google and Facebook
David Chavern, The Wall Street Journal

The news business is suffering, but not because people don’t want news. They do—more than ever.

How Brands Struggle Internally to Adapt to Digital
Erik Wander, Adweek

As digital disruption continues to create both challenges and new opportunities, brands are making changes to their legacy operating models, technologies and processes, according to Accenture’s Intelligent Operations research. But there are impediments to transforming marketing, and many of them are internal.

Maintaining a Culture of Builders and Innovators at Amazon: A Conversation With Beth Galetti
Larry Emond, Gallup

In a recent conversation we had, you mentioned that at the top of your list of priorities was maintaining a consistent culture across all of Amazon, while still maintaining a startup mentality in each of the businesses. Please tell me more about how you go about doing that.

Will Chipotle become the new Taco Bell? Let’s hope not.
Tim Carman, The Washington Post

Investors and fast-casual watchers alike can’t decide whether they love or loathe Chipotle’s bold decision last week to hire Brian Niccol, the chief executive of Taco Bell, to lead the troubled chain, which still can’t shake its reputation, fair or not, for serving tainted burritos. Or having rats fall from the ceiling at a Dallas store.

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