Brands Brief: MoviePass Intrigues Consumers, But Faces Challenges

Top Stories

  • A service that offers the chance to see one movie per day for under $120 annually has grown fast since a price cut less than seven months ago. MoviePass continues to generate strong new consumer interest, but it’s an open question whether over-usage by customers eats into MoviePass’ profitability. (Morning Consult)
  • Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards and capping off a politically saturated awards season, a new poll finds Americans perceive Hollywood as more politically liberal than the country overall, and that there are deep divisions over what role the entertainment industry’s relationship plays with the public. Poll respondents put the country’s political ideology at 5.1, compared to Hollywood’s average of seven on a scale of one (conservative) to 10 (liberal), and a 49 percent plurality said Hollywood is disconnected from the general public. (Morning Consult)
  • Facebook said it would end an experiment called Explore that in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Serbia separated posts from news sites and publishers from other material on the social network. Facebook said it could have done a better job communicating with publishers about what was happening in the six countries, where news organizations had complained that it had led to a rise in misinformation. (The New York Times)

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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.


P&G says cut digital ad spend by $200 million in 2017
Siddharth Cavale, Reuters

Procter & Gamble Co  said on Thursday it cut digital advertising spend by $200 million last year based on viewership data provided by tech and media companies that showed its ads were not reaching its target audience effectively. P&G, the world’s biggest advertiser, has been at the forefront of a campaign to pressure digital media companies to be transparent with their viewership metrics by telling them how many people see their ads and how ad agencies spend advertising dollars.

Turmoil on Madison Avenue as Marketers Push for Change
Nick Kostov and Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal

The world’s biggest marketers are taking aggressive steps to change how they buy ads, triggering upheaval across the advertising industry. Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. said Thursday that it slashed spending on digital advertising by more than $200 million last year, after a recent push for more transparency had revealed such spending to be largely wasteful.

Fox Wants ‘Attention’ To Be New Language For TV Ads
Jeanine Poggi, Advertising Age

Joe Marchese has been vocal about shifting the TV ad marketplace to focus on consumer attention since taking over as head of ad sales at Fox Networks Group less than a year ago. Today, at an event hosted by Fox and attended by rival TV executives, high-profile talent, media buyers and marketers, he will begin to paint a picture for how this vision will translate to ad products.

Lowe’s Reveals New Agencies As It Shifts Marketing Model
Adrianne Pasquarelli, Advertising Age

Lowe’s is renovating its agency structure, moving from an agency of record to a roster of shops for projects. In order to better focus its marketing messaging, the home improvement retailer has recruited the Via Agency, based in Portland, Maine, EP & Co., formerly Erwin Penland, based in Greenville, South Carolina and Conill, out of Los Angeles.

The Martin Agency Doubles Number of Women on Its Executive Committee as President Departs
Lindsay Rittenhouse, Adweek

Today The Martin Agency unveiled a new, more inclusive executive committee with twice as many female representatives as before. Four out of the nine members on the committee are women, and the agency also boasts a 50/50 male-to-female officer ratio.

Facebook Lets Ads Bare a Man’s Chest. A Woman’s Back Is Another Matter.
Sapna Maheshwari and Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times

When Krista Venero, an author who writes under the pen name K.L. Montgomery, bought ads on Facebook for a romance novel she published last year, she thought her marketing fell well within the bounds of the social network’s policies. The ad showed an image of a woman photographed from behind with a portion of her upper back exposed.

Media and Entertainment

MoviePass Intrigues Consumers, But Company Faces Marketplace Challenges
Anna Gronewold, Morning Consult

A service offering the chance to see one movie per day for under $120 annually has grown fast since a price cut less than seven months ago. And MoviePass continues to generate strong new consumer interest, Morning Consult polling shows.

Putting a Number on Hollywood’s Perceived Liberalism
Joanna Piacenza, Morning Consult

Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards and capping off a politically saturated awards season, a new poll finds Americans perceive Hollywood as more politically liberal than the country overall, and that there are deep divisions over what role the entertainment industry’s relationship plays with the public. In a survey conducted Feb. 22-26, respondents were asked to gauge the public’s ideology on a scale of one (conservative) to 10 (liberal).

Rich Ross Exits Discovery Communications in Executive Shake-up Ahead of Merger with Scripps
Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times

Discovery Communications is shaking up its executive ranks ahead of its merger with Scripps Network Interactive. The companies announced Thursday that TLC President Nancy Daniels has been elevated to the new role of chief brand officer, putting her in charge of the Discovery Channel, Discovery’s flagship cable network, and the Science Channel.

Weinstein Co. Reaches Deal With Ron Burkle-Backed Investor Group
Gene Maddaus, Variety

An investor group backed by billionaire Ron Burkle has reached a $500 million deal with the Weinstein Co. that will spare the troubled company from bankruptcy. The deal came together in a marathon negotiation Thursday in the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

ABC News, Atlantic Among Contenders for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight
Benjamin Mullin, The Wall Street Journal

The list of suitors for Nate Silver’s data-driven website FiveThirtyEight has narrowed to a few, as the statistics guru prepares to move on from a nearly five-year tie-up with Walt Disney’s Co.’s ESPN. The final contenders include ABC News, The Athletic website and The Atlantic, according to people familiar with the matter.

What to Expect (and Not Expect) at the Oscars
Cara Buckley, The New York Times

The Oscars turn 90 on Sunday, which seems about right. After this long, strange awards trip, the Bagger feels like a nonagenarian, too. The awards race was bookended by the demise of Harvey Weinstein at its outset and the apparent implosion of his film company at the end.

Social Media and Technology

Facebook to End News Feed Experiment in 6 Countries That Magnified Fake News
Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times

Facebook said on Thursday that it would end an experiment in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other material on the social network. News organizations in the countries — Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Serbia — had said they were blindsided by the Facebook experiment when it began in October and complained that it had led to a surprising rise in misinformation.

When selling ads, Facebook avoids the topic of Russia’s interference campaign
Shareen Pathak, Digiday

You could argue that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign through a savvy combination of organic posts and targeted ad spending would be a great Facebook case study. Alas, Facebook’s strategy for explaining to marketers the part it played in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is simple: Deflect, deflect, deflect.

Ex-Google Recruiter: I was Fired Because I Resisted “Illegal” Diversity Efforts
Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

A former YouTube employee has sued Google—the video site’s parent company—alleging that he was wrongfully terminated from his position after he complained against hiring practices that he claimed were discriminatory against white and Asian men. The lawsuit, which was filed in late January in San Mateo Superior Court but wasn’t reported in the media until Thursday, comes at a time when many Silicon Valley companies (including Google) are becoming increasingly cognizant of a largely male, white, and Asian workforce.

‘Alexa, How Can Podcasters Make Money From Voice Assistants?’
Benjamin Mullin, The Wall Street Journal

As voice assistants grow more popular, media companies are beginning to place early bets on products like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. The latest entrant is Gimlet Media, a podcasting company that just had its first brush with the technology.

Snap Skips Employee Bonuses, Combats Morale Slump After a Rough Year
Sarah Frier, Bloomberg

On Wednesday, Snap Inc. sent employees a survey asking a broad set of questions to understand what they’re happy about, what they want to improve, and what they want to say, anonymously, one year after the company’s initial public offering. Grievances will be aired.

The NRA Has a Secret Weapon to Fight Gun Control: A Powerful App
Joshua Green, Bloomberg

The push for new gun-control measures following the Parkland, Fla., shooting that killed 17 people is high-profile and public: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have blanketed the airwaves, spurred nationwide student walkouts, and featured prominently in a CNN town hall meeting grilling Florida’s pro-gun Senator Marco Rubio.

PR and Marketing

Kroger to Raise Age Limit on Gun Sales to 21
Cristiano M. Lima, Politico

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., announced Thursday it will raise the age requirement for firearm purchases to 21 years old, the third major retailer to tighten such regulations in response to the deadly school shooting in Florida. The Ohio-based company, which sells guns through its Fred Meyer chain at 43 stores across four Western states, cited the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as part of its rationale in announcing the move.

Bit by Bit, Whole Foods Gets an Amazon Touch
Nick Wingfield, The New York Times

Some signs are subtle, like the “Whole Foods + Amazon” one near the bananas. Others are more obvious, like the kiosk with Amazon devices for sale.

How Brands are Using Private-Label Fashion Lines to Compete with Amazon
Bethany Biron, Glossy

From inside a cavernous Manhattan event venue cordoned off into sections representing each of Walmart’s new private fashion labels, Walmart representatives milled about, wearing T-shirts with the company’s logo bedazzled in faux jewels peeping out from beneath crisp blazers. They were gathered for a preview of the retail behemoth’s latest apparel collections — women’s brand Time & Tru, plus-size line Terra & Sky, menswear label George and Walmart’s first foray into childrenswear, Wonder Nation — which officially launched on Thursday in stores and online.

Target, Boot-Maker Hunter Team Up to Create a Fashion Collection Designed to Please Millennials
Charisse Jones, USA Today

Target, known for its collaborations with top designers, is teaming up with boot maker Hunter to launch a Millennial-focused collection that will emphasize experiences as much as style. Hunter for Target will go on sale April 14 at select stores as well as on

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Viral Publishers See Sharp Engagement Drops on Facebook
Max Willens, Digiday

LittleThings shut down after Facebook’s algorithm change cut its organic reach by 75 percent, but it’s not the only social publisher that’s in danger, data from several analytics firms suggests. Publishers such as Viral Thread, ViralNova, 9gag, Bored Panda, Diply and Distractify have all seen interactions — likes, shares, comments and other reactions — slide precipitously since Facebook announced in January that it would deprioritize publisher content in its news feed, according to Facebook-owned CrowdTangle.

The Generation Gap in American Politics
Staff, Pew Research Center

Generational differences have long been a factor in U.S. politics. These divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades, with the potential to shape politics well into the future.

Is WPP Cheap Enough to Own?
Stephen Wilmot, The Wall Street Journal

Ad-agency group WPP is a classic value investment, Heard on the Street argued last August—way too early, as it turned out. Now the shares look even cheaper, and the value argument rings even louder.

Help Jack Dorsey Figure Out How to Take Twitter’s Temperature
Pavithra Mohan, Fast Company

How might you describe–and measure–the “collective health” of your conversations on Twitter? Jack Dorsey wants to know.