Brands Brief: Facebook Says $100K in Ad Spending May Be Linked to Russia

Top Stories

  • Facebook Inc. said a review of advertising buying on its site found about 500 fake accounts responsible for $100,000 in ad spending that the company believes has ties to Russia. Facebook conducted the review after members of the U.S. intelligence community expressed concerns about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • T-Mobile US Inc. said it will offer a free subscription to Netflix Inc. with its unlimited data family plans. It’s the latest effort by a wireless carrier to combine content with mobile services in an effort to attract subscribers. (Reuters)
  • Somsack Sikhounmuong, who effectively replaced Jenna Lyons as chief design officer of the J.Crew brand after her departure in April, resigned from the retailer. Sikhounmuong was in charge of the design of J.Crew’s women’s, men’s and children’s lines and had been with the company since 2001. (Business of Fashion)

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More Agency Consolidation At WPP As Rockfish Becomes Part Of VML
Richard Whitman, MediaPost

WPP has made another agency consolidation move, placing digital shop Rockfish within VML, its larger digital sibling agency. With the addition of Rockfish, which has a large ecommerce practice, VML will grow to more than 3,000 employees in 33 locations worldwide.

Alison machine learning predicts mobile ad campaign results
Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat

YellowHead has launched Alison, a machine learning technology that predicts how mobile advertising campaigns, known as paid user acquisition, will turn out. The Israeli startup helps mobile app and game developers get better results from ads.

Cole Haan is ditching the traditional fashion advertising playbook for its latest campaign
Tanya Dua, Business Insider

Cole Haan is ditching the traditional fashion advertising playbook. The premium fashion brand’s latest campaign is a departure from typical fashion ad campaigns, with its ads living not on glossy magazine pages but on podcasts, native ads and digital streaming services instead.

Media and Entertainment

T-Mobile to offer free Netflix to some family plan customers
Anjali Athavaley, Reuters

T-Mobile US Inc. said on Wednesday it will offer a free subscription to video streaming service Netflix Inc. with its unlimited data family plans in a push to lure more subscribers. The new offer shows how wireless carriers are bundling content with mobile service as a way to attract and keep customers in the United States, where most people already have cell phones and are increasingly using them to stream content.

Apple, Amazon Join Race for James Bond Film Rights
Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter

The franchise, and its future, are up for grabs as Agent 007 is being viewed as one of the last untapped brands that could be a game changer. The James Bond sweepstakes has taken an unexpected turn.

Apple Reaches Music Deal With Warner, Eyes Sony Pact
Lucas Shaw and Alex Webb, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. has secured a deal for songs from Warner Music Group, the technology giant’s first agreement with a major label since introducing its on-demand music service two years ago, according to people familiar with the matter. Warner will provide Apple a catalog spanning Ed Sheeran, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno Mars for both iTunes, the online store, and Apple Music, the streaming service.

Toronto: Are Apple and Facebook Next to Bid on Movies?
Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter

Call it the ultimate catch-22. When it comes to the most in-demand festival films, traditional distributors are being forced to overspend in order to compete with streaming giants Amazon and Netflix.

BBC is making interactive radio plays for Alexa and Google Home
Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

The BBC is known for producing radio plays, but the format is about to get a high-tech twist: a new experiment by the broadcasting company will turn traditional audio dramas into interactive stories.

TMZ Veteran Who Split With Site’s Founder Emerges as a Rival
Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

Before dawn on Wednesday, a celebrity news site here published an anonymously sourced article about a kerfuffle involving Scott Disick of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” fame. It was a classic TMZ scoop. Except that it was not.

Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes
Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

Hollywood had a horrible summer. Between the first weekend in May and Labor Day, a sequel-stuffed period that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual ticket sales, box office revenue in North America totaled $3.8 billion, a 15 percent decline from the same span last year.

Social Media and Technology

Facebook Identifies $100,000 In Ad Spending By Fake Accounts With Suspected Ties to Russia
Shane Harris et al., The Wall Street Journal

Facebook Inc. said it has identified about 500 “inauthentic” accounts responsible for $100,000 in advertising spending that it believes have ties to Russia, following a review of ad buying on the site in response to intelligence community concerns about Russian activity during the 2016 election. The findings mark the first time that Facebook has acknowledged that Russian actors may have used its platform during the presidential campaign.

Facebook Tells Advertisers It Can Reach Many Young People. Too Many.
Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times

Facebook faced criticism on Wednesday after an analyst pointed out that the company’s online advertising tools claim they can reach 25 million more young Americans than the United States census says exist. The analyst, Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research, said in a note Tuesday that Facebook’s Ads Manager says it can potentially reach 41 million 18- to 24-year-olds in the United States and 60 million 25- to 34-year-olds.

LinkedIn raises its ad tech game, launches Audience Network across ‘tens of thousands’ of sites and apps
Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Facebook has set the pace for how social networks can grow their advertising revenues by leveraging advances and ad tech and the information that they collect about users and their interests through the social graph. Now LinkedIn — the career-focused social network owned by Microsoft with some 500 million registered users — is hoping to step up its game in ads and ad tech, too.

Home Depot Taps Up Google Home for Voice Ordering
Phil Wahba, Fortune

The Home Depot has become the latest retailer to team up with a tech giant in the hopes of spurring digital sales. The home improvement retailer said on Wednesday it would start selling its products online by means of voice commands customers give to Google Home devices and via the Google Express web site and mobile app.

Podcast network Gimlet Media has raised another $5 million — this time from ad giant WPP
Peter Kafka, Recode

Yet another vote of confidence in podcasting — this time from the people who buy ads for a living: WPP, the biggest ad holding company in the world, has put $5 million in Gimlet Media, the Brooklyn-based podcast startup. This is an extension of the $15 million round Gimlet raised last month, which valued the company at $55 million pre-money; it brings the company’s total funding to $27 million.

How The Economist shifted its Line strategy to grow to nearly 1 million followers
Lucinda Southern, Digiday

Since starting to post to the popular Asian app Line in January 2016, The Economist has grown its following to nearly 1 million in several countries. As with The Economist’s approach to other social platforms, the goal of posting to Line was to build audiences in new markets and ultimately drive loyal readers to subscribe.

PR and Marketing

Jenna Lyons Replacement Departs J.Crew
Chantal Fernandez, The Business of Fashion

The leadership shuffle at J.Crew continues. BoF has learned that Somsack Sikhounmuong — who effectively replaced Jenna Lyons, taking up the role of chief design officer after she exited the company in March — is resigning from the company.

Mars counters Trump’s climate stance with $1bn sustainability plan
Press Association

The corporate backlash is growing against Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, with Mars launching a $1bn sustainability plan and an M&M’s campaign centred on renewable energy. It is the latest climate move by the family owned firm, which emerged as a vocal critic of the US president’s decision to pull out of the 2015 climate pact, saying it was “disappointed” with the withdrawal and stressing that corporations could not go it alone when it came to tackling climate change.

Amazon shops to open inside some Kohl’s stores
Kaya Yurieff, CNN

The department store on Wednesday announced Amazon “smart home spaces” are coming to 10 of its stores in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas, starting in October. Shoppers will be able to buy Amazon gadgets — like Kindles and Fire tablets — accessories and smart home products, such as the Echo speaker at these locations.

Gap shifts focus to Old Navy, Athleta brands as part of updated growth strategy
Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Gap on Wednesday announced plans to achieve what it calls “long-term, balanced growth,” as the apparel retailer has been struggling to grow in an erratic sales environment. By focusing on its two “growth brands,” Gap expects net sales at Old Navy of more than $10 billion and sales at its athleisure nameplate, Athleta, to exceed $1 billion during the next few years.

Colts unleash biggest-ever marketing campaign, pegged on ‘forging pride’
Anthony Schoettle, Indianapolis Business Journal

The Indianapolis Colts this week are unleashing the most extensive and expensive marketing campaign in the team’s history. Colts officials are hoping the campaign triggers a stampede of good vibes from fans, corporate backers and even those inside the team’s headquarters.

Why White Castle’s Uniforms Are Suddenly Among the Industry’s Most Fashionable
David Gianatasio, Adweek

Soon, folks will be able to dress in fly White Castle gear without actually having to flip patties at the iconic hamburger chain. A line of streetwear and other consumer merchandise drops next month, created in partnership with indie unisex New York fashion house Telfar.

Future of Retail? Nike’s Cool New Toy Lets You Design and Print Custom Sneakers in an Hour
Tim Nudd, Adweek

Nike and Wieden + Kennedy’s The Lodge have unveiled what they believe is a glimpse into the future of retail with an experience in New York City that lets visitors design their own one-of-a-kind sneakers, which are ready to wear in less than 90 minutes.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Nike is still the king of the sneaker industry, but even great empires can fall
Marc Bain, Quartz

Nike has dominated the sneaker world for so many years that it has come to seem invincible, particularly in the US, its home turf and the world’s biggest sneaker market.
Lately, though, some holes have started to open up in Nike’s armor.

The Four Most Popular Myths About Paid Advertising: Debunked
Todd Saunders, Fortune

Is paying for AdWords worth it? Well, yes and no. To someone unfamiliar with pay-per-click (PPC), opening the Google AdWords dashboard might look like a seven-headed monster that no entrepreneur can slay. I saw this time and time again during my time at Google.

‘If you’re too original, you confuse people’: why nothing’s wrong with a bit of creative imitation
Patrick Collister, The Drum

A couple of months ago, the Titanium jury at Cannes threw out the Clemenger BBDO campaign for Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission – ‘Meet Graham’ – because it was derivative. It was, they told us, a copy of a campaign that won a D&AD Silver back in 1985. Never mind the fact that half the jury were still in nappies at the time ‘Natural Born Smoker’ was made.

Walmart and Target: Which brand strategy will win?
Daphne Howland, Retail Dive

Last month, Walmart announced that merchandise from two of its recent e-commerce acquisitions — quirky women’s apparel site Modcloth and menswear merchant Bonobos — would be sold on the Jet marketplace, but not on or in Walmart stores. It’s a strategy that differs widely from Target — which has also announced partnerships in recent months, including with popular online mattress company Casper and men’s grooming subscription service Harry’s — where integration with the bullseye and outside logos is more the norm.

What retailers can learn from REI’s marketing success
Corinne Ruff, Retail Dive

Two years ago, REI made a bold decision to close its doors on Black Friday, instead urging employees to enjoy the great outdoors on one of the biggest retail days of the year — one that combined with Thanksgiving Day generates a whopping $12 billion in sales for the industry. REI took the gamble that what would be lost in store sales would be made up for in brand loyalty — and it won.