Brands Brief: Facebook CEO’s 2018 Resolution Is to ‘Fix’ Company’s Troubles

Top Stories

  • Facebook Inc.’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to spend the year “fixing” Facebook as part of his annual personal challenge. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company, which has been criticized for facilitating the spread of false information in the 2016 U.S. presidential election season, makes “too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools.” (BBC)
  • The controversy over Apple Inc.’s disclosure that it installed a power management feature that slowed down older iPhone models has generated a greater buzz than Apple’s long-awaited iPhone X launch, according to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence data. Buzz about Apple — defined as whether poll respondents have heard either something positive or negative about a brand — rose to 64 percent Wednesday, the highest since Morning Consult began tracking the company in October 2016. (Morning Consult)
  • Apple has had increased delays and wait times during Tim Cook’s tenure as chief executive, most recently for AirPods earbuds in 2016 and 2017’s HomePod speaker, a risk that some analysts say could cost the company its edge. (The Wall Street Journal)

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2017 Brands in Review

Last year, Morning Consult conducted nearly 1 million survey interviews on nearly 1,000 brands. Get a never-before-seen look at how public perception changed for the world’s biggest brands.


Tinder Traces the History of Dating to Caveman Times in Gorgeously Detailed Animated Spot
Kristina Monllos, Adweek

Dating: So easy, a caveman can do it? Since the dawn of time, human beings have been yearning for connection. Over the years, we’ve only made it more and more difficult to find.

‘What Happens Here’ Campaign Returns Three Months After Vegas Shooting
By E.J. Schultz, Advertising Age

“What Happens Here Stays Here” is back on the air. The long-running whimsical campaign promoting Las Vegas tourism is running nationally again after taking a three-month hiatus in the wake of the Oct. 1 massacre in which a gunman killed 58 people and wounded hundreds at an outdoor music festival along the Strip.

Twitter ups Stephanie Prager to head of global agency development
Diana Bradley, PR Week

Twitter has promoted Stephanie Prager to head of global agency development, the company said on Thursday. She is responsible for managing Twitter’s relationship with the major marketing services holding companies, Twitter said in a statement, and is reporting to Guiherme Ribenboim, VP of global client solution development.

‘Distressing, but they are Goliath’: Hard-hit publishers brace for Google’s ad blocking browser’s launch
Ross Benes, Digiday

Google’s ad-blocking version of Chrome is going live next month, whether publishers are ready for it or not. Publishers initially expressed fear when news of Chrome’s ad blocker broke last April.

Media and Entertainment

Tension with ownership looms over Los Angeles Times union vote
Tom Kludt, CNN

Financial turbulence and misgivings with the newspaper’s parent company have brought the Los Angeles Times to the cusp of forming a union for the first time in its 136-year history. On Thursday, newsroom employees will cast votes in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board, the culmination of a tense months-long organizing effort.

Alabama newspaper executive accused of spanking female employees resigns
Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post

A prominent newspaper executive in Alabama accused of spanking multiple female employees during the 1970s has resigned. H. Brandt Ayers, 82, on Thursday stepped down as chairman of the board of Consolidated Publishing Co., which owns the Anniston Star and five other newspapers.

Breitbart Owners Debate Ousting Bannon Amid Trump Feud
Julie Bykowicz et al., The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump’s growing feud with Steve Bannon is threatening the former White House strategist’s leadership of the conservative Breitbart News website and upending Mr. Bannon’s plans to wage “war” on party incumbents he deemed insufficiently loyal to the White House agenda. Mr. Bannon’s longtime benefactors, billionaires Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, are actively distancing from him even before the expected release this week of a book that has roiled Messrs. Trump and Bannon’s relationship, according to two people close to the Mercers.

Jimmy Iovine to Leave Apple Music in August: Sources
Staff, Billboard

Look for Jimmy Iovine to leave Apple Music in August. The former Interscope CEO joined Apple in 2014 after selling Beats, the the music service and electronics business that he and Dr. Dre co-founded, to the tech giant for $3 billion.

Spotify now has 70 million subscribers
Lizzie Plaugic, The Verge

Spotify just announced on Twitter that it now has 70 million subscribers. Before today, the company’s most recent subscriber count was at more than 60 million back in July. Spotify hasn’t given any new details on its total number of active users, but in June it claimed to be up to 140 million.

‘Am I Going to Have to Put Mickey Mouse in “American Horror Story”?’
John Koblin, The New York Times

A top Fox TV executive said she was “shocked” when the deal between 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company was announced. One of Fox’s most prolific hitmakers, Ryan Murphy, said he was “very emotional” and weighing whether he would stick around when his deal with the studio ended later this year.

Social Media and Technology

Mark Zuckerberg vows to ‘fix’ Facebook
Staff, BBC

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to “fix” Facebook, in what he described as his personal challenge for 2018. In a post on his page on the social network, he said it was making too many errors enforcing policies and preventing misuse of its tools.

Facebook beats YouTube and TV as best place to launch new ad campaign in survey of ad buyers
Michelle Castillo, CNBC

Facebook will chip away at Google’s dominance in digital advertising thanks to the growth of Instagram and video ads, according to a new research note from Cowen. Cowen analysts, who surveyed 50 senior ad buyers, said Facebook and Instagram ad budgets will increase in 2018 and 2019, and budgets for Google ads will decline slightly.

NBC News got 4 million subscribers in 5 months to its Snapchat show
Sahil Patel, Digiday

CNN made waves when it said last month it would throw in the towel on its Snapchat show after just four months. But rival NBC News says it’s satisfied with the traction “Stay Tuned,” its 5-month-old daily news show for Snapchat, is getting on the app.

Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick Plans to Sell 29% of Stake
Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg

Former Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, who has long boasted that he’s never sold any shares in the company he co-founded, plans to sell about 29 percent of his stake in the ride-hailing company, people with knowledge of the matter said. Kalanick stands to reap about $1.4 billion from the transaction with SoftBank Group Corp. and a consortium of investors who have agreed to buy equity valuing Uber at $48 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.

CES fails to add women to keynote on main stage events
Bennett Bennett, The Drum

After a weeks-long scramble to add female talent to its keynote roster, CES confirmed that it will not have any women in any of its top slots this year, making it a second-straight year without women as keynote speakers. CES faced an onslaught of criticism from industry heavyweights, including HP’s Antonio Lucio, Cindy Gallop, and former PepsiCo CMO Brad Jakeman via Twitter after the initial announcement of keynote speakers.

PR and Marketing

Apple’s Battery Controversy Drawing More Attention Than iPhone X Release
Anna Gronewold, Morning Consult

The controversy over Apple Inc.’s disclosure that it installed a power management feature that slowed down older iPhone models has generated a greater buzz than the talk about Apple’s long-awaited iPhone X launch, according to Morning Consult Brand Intelligence data. The fracas, which some have dubbed “Batterygate,” began when Apple’s critics seized upon a Dec. 9 Reddit post and a series of tests from GeekBench’s John Poole to back up their assertion that Apple slows down its older phones to force customers to buy new ones.

Apple’s Latest Trend: Product Delays
Tripp Mickle, The Wall Street Journal

As Apple Inc.’s longtime chief operating officer, Tim Cook was known for ensuring that new products hit the market on schedule. With Mr. Cook as CEO, though, Apple’s new gadgets are consistently late, prompting questions among analysts and other close observers about whether the technology giant is losing some of its competitive edge.

Apple says Meltdown and Spectre flaws affect all Mac and iOS devices
Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

Apple’s iPhones, iPads and Mac computers are all vulnerable to the major processor flaws revealed on Wednesday, the company has warned, but it says updates are already available. The flaws known as Meltdown and Spectre affect almost every modern computing device from all manufacturers using chip designs from Intel, AMD and ARM. Apple uses Intel processors in its Mac computers and ARM-based designs for its A-series processors used in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch lines.

Intel CEO’s big stock sale raises questions
Dan Primack, Axios

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold off a large portion of his stake in the company months after Google had informed the chipmaker of a significant security vulnerability in its flagship PC processors — but before the problem was publicly known. The vulnerability, which affects processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM and could allow malicious actors to steal passwords and other secret data, became public this week.

Sears Holdings to close 103 Kmart and Sears stores
Richa Naidu, Reuters

Sears Holdings Corp said on Thursday it was shuttering 103 unprofitable Kmart and Sears stores as it continues to streamline operations amid mounting debt and a string of quarterly losses. The department store operator, which has racked up 24 straight quarters of sales declines, said 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores would be closed between early March and early April this year.

Seeking Surfing Synergies: Quiksilver and Billabong to Hang 10 Together
Suzanne Kapner, The Wall Street Journal

The parent of the Quiksilver surfwear brand has agreed to acquire rival Billabong International Ltd. , combining two of the largest active sports brands as the industry is undergoing a major shakeout. The combination would create a global player with ubiquitous brands, about $2 billion in annual sales and 630 stores in 28 countries.

Gun Sales in America Drop
Polly Mosendz, Bloomberg

After a strong Black Friday, gun sales were surprisingly lackluster in December despite the traditional role of the holidays as the time when many Americans give each other firearms. While the government doesn’t keep an exact count of firearms sold, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System can be used as a reliable barometer.

In Ice Cream War, Upstarts Grab Freezer Space From Ben & Jerry’s
Craig Giammona, Bloomberg

The battle in the freezer case is heating up. That means more bad news for Big Food.

What Makes Teen Shoppers Brand-Loyal
Rimma Kats, eMarketer

Teens don’t necessarily have the same spending habits as older cohorts. For one, many don’t even have a job.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Chip Flaw Exposes Intel’s Long-Term Challenges
Dan Gallagher, The Wall Street Journal

Intel Corp. is so dominant in its markets that any security flaw in its chips will have only a modest impact on the company in the short-term. The long-term is different, especially if Intel lets its credibility slip.

Search Advertising Enters 2018 On The Cusp Of A Renaissance
Brandon Verblow, Forrester

In recent years, search has been the important but sleepy mainstay of the digital advertising market. Even though it garners the most digital advertising dollars, the attention paid to search has faded as growth has matured and novel channels like social and video have emerged.

Crossing the Line: What Counts as Online Harassment?
Aaron Smith And Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center

Pew Research Center surveys have found that online harassment is a common phenomenon in the digital lives of many Americans, and that a majority of Americans feel harassment online is a major problem. Even so, there is considerable debate over what online harassment actually means in practice.

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