Brands Brief: Disney’s ‘Black Panther’ Posts Fifth Best U.S. Opening of All Time

Top Stories

  • Marvel’s “Black Panther” generated an estimated $235 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales during its four-day holiday weekend debut, the second-biggest opening for a Marvel Studios film and the fifth-highest opening weekend ever for all U.S. films. The movie also set records for February and Presidents Day weekend. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Fox News is set to announce Fox Nation, a subscription service available without a cable package that will focus on right-leaning commentary with a new lineup of programming and anchors, as well as original shows and cameos by personalities like Sean Hannity. The network is still discussing the cost of the service, which is designed for “the Fox superfan,” according to John Finley, who oversees program development and production for Fox News. (The New York Times)
  • Google said it is working to identify users who are likely to subscribe to a publication and then make it easy for them to subscribe within Google. The emphasis on subscriptions is important for publishers looking for reader revenue through Google, and it represents a shift for the search giant, which has drawn large audiences and advertising dollars based on the idea of free content. (Digiday)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

B2B Marketing Exchange 7 a.m.
B2B Marketing Exchange 7 a.m.
Pubcon Austin 2018 7:30 a.m.
Digital Summit Phoenix 8:30 a.m.
Digiday Retail Summit 1:30 p.m.
Digiday Retail Summit 7 a.m.
Digital Summit Phoenix 8:30 a.m.
Technology Policy Institute event on the economics and policy implications of AI 8:45 a.m.
Philadelphia Tech Summit 9:40 a.m.
Wisdom 2.0 summit 7 p.m.
2018 AMA Winter Academic Conference 8 a.m.
Wisdom 2.0 summit 8 a.m.
Digiday Retail Summit 8:30 a.m.

Tracking Trump: The President’s Approval Rating in All 50 States

The inaugural edition of Morning Consult’s new monthly approval tracker is now live. Explore the data state by state, month over month.


Twentieth Century Fox promotes Greg Drebin to EVP of worldwide marketing
Bennett Bennett, The Drum

Twentieth Century Fox has announced the promotion of Greg Drebin to an expanded role of executive vice president-worldwide marketing. In this role, Drebin’s been tasked with overseeing Fox Networks Group’s content distribution marketing and television distribution research arms.

How MediaCom Rebounded From Losing a $2 Billion Account to Score Its Best Year Ever
Gabriel Beltrone, Adweek

On a Friday in June 2016, MediaCom CEO Stephen Allan got the call no agency leader ever wants: The shop had unexpectedly lost the global business of Volkswagen, a client since 1996 that was one of its top three revenue generators with an annual marketing budget between $2 billion and $3 billion.

Media and Entertainment

How massive is ‘Black Panther’ at the box office? A record-shattering $235 million
Deborah Vankin, The Los Angeles Times

The King of Wakanda reigned supreme this holiday weekend as Disney’s “Black Panther” proved to be a pop cultural phenomenon, shattering box office records with an estimated $235 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales for the four-day holiday weekend. The Marvel Entertainment release, the first global superhero blockbuster with an African American director and a mostly black cast, exceeded expectations and set records for a February opening and for a Presidents Day weekend debut.

Fox News Plans a Streaming Service for ‘Superfans’
Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times

Thanks to a relentless news cycle — and a dedicated fan in the Oval Office — Fox News has defied the downward trends in the television business, notching its highest-rated year in 2017 even as audiences dwindled for many networks. But the mass migration of viewers away from traditional cable and satellite packages is accelerating.

Olympics Audience Shrinks, but NBC Touts Win
Joe Flint, The Wall Street Journal

The verdict is in for the first week of the Winter Olympics: Viewership is down. That isn’t stopping NBC from claiming gold.

We Have Streaming Revenue, Too, Says NBC. And We Can Prove It.
John Koblin, The New York Times

If you run a broadcast network these days, it’s easy to feel left out. “All the excitement is about cable and streaming,” the chairman of NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, said in an interview.

Social Media and Technology

Google turns on the charm with publishers by focusing on subscriptions
Lucia Moses, Digiday

Google is vying for the hearts and minds of publishers with an appeal to their bottom lines, particularly in attracting subscribers. Last fall, Google ended its controversial first-click-free policy that required paywalled publishers to let readers see at least three free articles to have the publishers’ content surfaced in search and replaced it with flexible sampling, where the publishers choose where to set the meter.

Facebook plans to use U.S. mail to verify IDs of election ad buyers
Dustin Volz, Reuters

Facebook Inc will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday. The postcard verification is Facebook’s latest effort to respond to criticism from lawmakers, security experts and election integrity watchdog groups that it and other social media companies failed to detect and later responded slowly to Russia’s use of their platforms to spread divisive political content, including disinformation, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump backs Facebook’s VP of ads, who says Russia’s meddling was designed to divide America
Chloe Aiello, CNBC

Russia’s suspected meddling in U.S. politics wasn’t expressly meant to elect President Donald Trump, but was intended to sow fear and hatred among Americans, a top Facebook executive said — an assessment that was endorsed by the president himself. Rob Goldman, vice president of ads at Facebook, took to Twitter on Friday to applaud special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian trolls on social media.

Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again
Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

Another blow for Facebook in Europe: Judges in Belgium have once again ruled the company broke privacy laws by deploying technology such as cookies and social plug-ins to track internet users across the web. Facebook uses data it collects in this way to sell targeted advertising.

Waymo is readying a ride-hailing service that could directly compete with Uber
Alison Griswold, Quartz

Waymo is preparing to launch a ride-hailing service akin to Uber’s, but with driverless cars. The self-driving carmaker spun out of Google was approved on Jan. 24 to operate as a transportation network company (TNC) in Arizona, the state department of transportation told Quartz.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company gets preliminary permit for NYC-DC Hyperloop
Jordan Crook, TechCrunch

A 29-minute trip from D.C. to New York may seem too good to be true. And it very well may be.

PR and Marketing

Albertsons Scoops Up Remainder of Rite Aid as Retailers Face Online Threat
Heather Haddon, The Wall Street Journal

Albertsons Cos. plans to buy the rest of Rite Aid Corp. that isn’t being sold to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. as retailers of all stripes scramble to respond to a rapidly changing consumer shopping landscape. The drugstore chain and Albertsons have a combined value of around $24 billion, including debt, the companies said Monday.

KFC’s British restaurants have a serious problem: They don’t have chicken
Kristine Phillips, The Washington Post

“The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants.” So said a weekend announcement that tried to find humor in KFC’s chicken shortage, which has prompted the fast-food chain to temporarily close hundreds of its restaurants in Britain.

Coca-Cola’s Game Plan: Reformulate and Expand
Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal

As health-conscious consumers drink less soda, Coca-Cola Co. has rolled out more waters, teas and juices, part of its goal to be known for something other than soft drinks. Chief Executive James Quincey has been urging employees to be more innovative and executives to abandon the cautious stance some have held to since the company’s disastrous 1985 rollout of a reformulated Coke.

Amazon threat to FedEx overblown, it’s the postal service that’s in trouble, JP Morgan says
Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Amazon’s reported entry into delivery service won’t be as bad for UPS and FedEx as it will be for the United States Postal Service, according to a J.P. Morgan analyst in the space. “Sentiment remains cautious on the two stocks based on a heightened risk of disruption.

In Cutting Time to Market, Toy Companies Try On Fast-Fashion’s Approach
Paul Ziobro, The Wall Street Journal

Toy companies are mimicking the moves of fast-fashion retailers as they scramble to produce toys and games tied to the swift rise and fall of trends driven by social media. Hasbro Inc., Mattel Inc. and other companies are rushing to collapse production times and capitalize on fast-moving trends such as slime-making kits, and viral videos that can spawn new games and toys.

Why LL Bean yanked the rug out from under customers by ending its lifetime return policy
Trent Gillies, CNBC

For generations, L.L. Bean has had one of the most generous return policies of any retailer. This month, the 106 year-old outdoor gear maker decided that enough was enough.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Evaluating NBC’s Olympics Coverage at the Halfway Mark in PyeongChang
Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated

As he has done with this column at at multiple Olympics around the halfway point, NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus addressed some questions viewers have have had regarding NBC’s coverage of the PyeongChang Games. You might not like his answers—in fact, I am sure many of you will not—but he is accountable to those who write about his company and that gets great respect here.

Facebook, Twitter Ill-Equipped to Stop Repeat of 2016 Meddling
Sarah Frier and Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg

Internet companies have a long way to go before they’re capable of stopping any foreign meddling in future U.S. elections. Changes rolled out so far by Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and other technology companies wouldn’t prevent the tactics revealed Friday by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian operatives — let alone any new hacks dreamed up by bad actors.

Why Facebook is afraid of Robert Mueller
Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post

Who is afraid of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III? President Trump is afraid.

Google Chrome Now Blocks Irksome Ads. That’s a Good Thing, Right?
John Herrman, The New York Times

As advertising has become more intrusive in recent years, hundreds of millions of web users have installed ad-blocking software to ward off full-page pop-ups, blaring video pitches that start automatically and large ads with unstoppable countdown clocks that obscure the content you actually want to see. On Thursday, Google did something about the problem: The company updated its browser, Google Chrome, so that it bans such ads by default on mobile devices and desktop computers.

A-List 2018
Staff, Advertising Age

Ad Age’s annual A-List celebrates the very best that the industry has to offer. Whether for their bold creativity, lucrative business strategy or continual transformation—and often it’s a combination—the agencies on this year’s list rank among the top, perhaps, of all time.