Brands Brief: ESPN Suspends Jemele Hill Over Tweets Urging Boycott of Cowboys’ Sponsors


Top Stories

  • ESPN has suspended commentator Jemele Hill for two weeks for violating the company’s social media policy. On Twitter on Sunday night, Hill urged people to boycott the advertisers working with the Dallas Cowboys football team after the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, said Cowboys players would be required to stand during the national anthem. (Sports Illustrated)
  • Public relations executive Steven Lipin has opened a new firm called Gladstone Place Partners. Lipin left the London-based communications firm Brunswick Group six months ago after 16 years with the group. (Financial Times)
  • Google has found evidence that Russian operatives purchased ads on YouTube, Gmail and other Google platforms to spread disinformation in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the matter. (The Washington Post)

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Advertising

WPP Companies Lobbied for NRA – as Ad Firm Claimed to Oppose Gun Violence
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

The British advertising and public relations company WPP has been one of the National Rifle Association’s most important political advocates in the last decade, with companies it owns collecting $1.46m (£1.1m) in lobbying fees since 2007 to further the US pro-gun group’s agenda. At the same time as companies owned by WPP helped the NRA block gun control legislation in Washington, WPP sought to portray itself as being opposed to gun violence.

Financial Times Finds Counterfeit Ad Space Was Offered by at Least Six Companies
Jack Marshall, The Wall Street Journal

The Financial Times has determined that a host of advertising technology companies offered counterfeit, or “spoofed,” FT ad space, suggesting that some of the industry’s major players are unable to prevent the fraudulent tactic. The publisher recently sent letters to at least six companies it believes offered fake FT ad space, including Verizon Communications Inc.’s Oath, AppNexus, PubMatic, Teads, SpotX and Comcast Corp.’s FreeWheel, people familiar with the situation said.

Amazon is Considering a More Serious Bid Against YouTube, Ad Industry Sources Say
Michelle Castillo, CNBC

Amazon is taking meetings about getting serious on including more advertising opportunities on its video content. One potential program would pair vetted video creators and companies to create sponsored content, and Amazon would take some of the deal revenue.

BETC Opens Its First Stateside Office in L.A. and Partners With Dance Superstar Benjamin Millepied
Patrick Coffee, Adweek

BETC, one of the industry’s most acclaimed global creative agencies, announced the opening of its first North American office today after years of speculation. BETC L.A. will be an enterprise funded by the larger network and its parent company Havas.

Alphabet Launches U.S. Ad Campaign to Promote Driverless Car Safety
David Shepardson, Reuters

Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo and several groups are launching a campaign aimed at convincing skeptical Americans of what they say is the value and safety of driverless cars, as Congress considers how it will regulate the technology.

Correction: A previous version of this brief misstated the news source that published an article about counterfeit Financial Times ad space.

Media and Entertainment

ESPN Suspends Jemele Hill Two Weeks for Violating Social Media Policy
Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated

On Monday afternoon ESPN suspended commentator Jemele Hill for two weeks for a series of tweets she made Sunday night calling for an advertiser boycott of the Cowboys following Dallas owner and GM Jerry Jones saying his players will stand for the national anthem and not disrespect the flag, and if they do, the player or players will not play.

Trump Threatens N.F.L. and Attacks Jemele Hill
Peter Baker, The New York Times

President Trump threatened on Tuesday to use federal tax law to penalize the National Football League over players who kneel in protest during the national anthem as he sought to escalate a political fight that has resonated with his conservative base.

Chiefs Still Unbeaten But ‘Sunday Night Football’ Ratings Down Again on Politically Charged Day
Dominic Patten, Deadline

On a day that saw Vice President Mike Pence walk out of the Indianapolis Colts-San Francisco 49ers game because of players taking a knee during the national anthem, the Kansas City Chiefs had a very good night on Sunday Night Football. However, with a 10.6/18 in metered market results, last night was not so stellar for NBC and the NFL.

Hulu Drops Price of its Entry-Level Plan
Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET

After Netflix announced last week that it’s raising the price of its standard subscription plan, Hulu is now offering new subscribers a price cut. According to Hulu’s website, for a limited time, subscribers can sign up for the entry-level plan for $5.99 a month for the first year.

Amazon’s NFL Stream Attracts Fewer Total Viewers in Second Game
Ben Munson, FierceCable

Amazon Prime Video said the Oct. 5 matchup between the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached a total of 1.7 million combined viewers worldwide for the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and the game. For the game alone, 1.5 million worldwide viewers initiated a stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Some of TV’s Greatest Hits Move From Netflix to Well-Funded Hulu
Lucas Shaw and Gerry Smith, Bloomberg

The domestic streaming rights for reruns of “This is Us” went to Hulu, the rival service owned by four big media companies, including two that made and broadcast “This Is Us.” The company and NBC bid about $3.5 million per episode for U.S. rights from 21st Century Fox Inc., which produced the show, people familiar with the matter said.

Hulu Dives into eSports with Four ESL-Made Shows
Mallory Locklear, Engadget

A handful of TV networks have started to incorporate more eSports content into their lineups and now eSports have made their way to streaming video on demand as Hulu and ESL have teamed up to create four new eSports series.

Meghan McCain Joins ABC’s ‘The View’
Brian Steinberg, Variety

ABC News confirmed Monday that conservative commentator Meghan McCain would join its mid-morning talk show “The View” and also serve as a contributor to various ABC News programs including “Good Morning America” and “This Week.”

Los Angeles Times Hires Lewis D’Vorkin as Editor in Chief
Lukas I. Alpert, The Wall Street Journal

The Los Angeles Times has hired media veteran Lewis D’Vorkin as editor in chief, as parent company Tronc Inc. continues to shake up management of its flagship newspaper.

L’Officiel Launches US Edition
Chantal Fernandez, Business of Fashion

The family-owned fashion magazine is building a global digital network and plans to monetise its English-language content through syndication and film and television projects, all with an aim to reach $100 million in annual revenue within the next three years.

Social Media and Technology

Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms
Elizabeth Dwoskin et al., The Washington Post

Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation.

Mark Zuckerberg ‘Tours’ Flooded Puerto Rico in Bizarre Virtual Reality Promo
Olivia Solon, The Guardian

A cartoon version of Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, visited hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico on Monday, in a tone-deaf livestream that was part disaster tourism, part product promotion.

PR and Marketing

Public Relations Executive Steve Lipin Opens Own Firm
James Fontanella-Khan and Arash Massoudi, Financial Times

Public relations executive Steven Lipin launched a new firm called Gladstone Place Partners on Tuesday, as the former business journalist seeks to steal market share from more established corporate communications rivals.

Harvey Weinstein To Be Taken Off TWC TV & Movie Credits As Company Explores Overall Name Change
Nellie Andreeva and Mike Fleming Jr., Deadline

On the heels of Harvey Weinstein’s ouster from The Weinstein Company, his name is being removed from all of the company’s TV series, on which he had served as an executive producer, sources told Deadline. Additionally, we hear TWC brass are auditioning ad agencies today that will be tasked with finding a new name for the overall production and distribution company.

Harvey Weinstein Puts Wife’s Marchesa Fashion Brand in Tough Spot
Booth Moore, The Hollywood Reporter
The scandal-ridden producer is a fashion-world fixture, and wife Georgina Chapman’s brand is a Hollywood red-carpet mainstay. Now what?

Harvey Weinstein Hires Sitrick and Company to Handle Crisis Response After Firing
Gene Maddaus, Variety

Harvey Weinstein is restocking his team of crisis managers, after half of his team resigned over the weekend. Weinstein has retained Sitrick and Company, the well known crisis PR firm, to help him through the next phase of his response to the New York Times’ bombshell story revealing decades of sexual harassment settlements.

WME-IMG Is Now Endeavor
Dave Brooks, Billboard

WME-IMG, the company that came together with the WME’s purchase of IMG in 2013, is changing its name to Endeavor. The Endeavor name is a throwback to the 2009 merger between famed talent house William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent Agency wherein Endeavor executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell became co-CEOs of the merged William Morris Endeavor, or simply WME as it is now known.

Walmart is Eliminating the Wait for a Common Kind of Return
Dennis Green, Business Insider

Walmart is simplifying the process for customers returning merchandise bought through its website in the store. Starting in November, customers using the new Mobile Express Returns service will be able to initiate a return in the Walmart app before heading to the store.

Ikea Turns to Ecommerce Sites in Online Sales Push
Richard Milne, Financial Times

Ikea has become the latest big-name retailer to radically overhaul its sales strategy in the face of online competition, launching a test to sell its flat-pack furniture through big ecommerce websites amid a fall in visitors to its out-of-town outlets.

Not Just Rooms, Hotels Offer One-of-a-Kind Experiences
Elizabeth Olson, The New York Times

With competitors like Airbnb nipping at their heels, hotels are going beyond extra nights and room upgrades to entice their most faithful customers.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

America’s Retailers Have a New Target Customer: The 26-Year-Old Millennial
Ellen Byron, The Wall Street Journal

This age bracket, bigger than any other, is pushing companies to revamp marketing and products to meet its needs. That includes a lot of education about the basics, such as how to use a tape measure.

Why Retailers Should Retire Holiday Shopping Season
Denise Lee Yohn, Harvard Business Review

The retail industry has been disrupted in practically every way imaginable. It’s about time that retailers also rethink their approach to the holiday shopping season. It no longer makes sense to rely on disproportionate revenue from the holiday season to make up for softness in sales during the rest of the year.