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Brands Brief: Walmart Removes ‘Black Lives Matter’ Clothing After Complaint From Police Advocacy Group

Morning Consult Brands will be off for the holidays. Publication will resume on Jan. 3.

Top Stories

  • Walmart Stores Inc. said it’s removing a line of “Black Lives Matter” clothing from walmart.com following a complaint by the National Fraternal Order of Police. The advocacy group also contacted Amazon.com Inc. about removing similar merchandise. (Fortune)
  • Ikea reached a tentative $50 million settlement with three U.S. families whose children died after the company’s furniture fell on them. (The New York Times)
  • The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group is buying Spin, Vibe and Stereogum. The acquisition aims to help Billboard expand its online audience. (Adweek)

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Advertising and Marketing

Weight Watchers Shares Soar After Oprah Winfrey Loses 40 Pounds
Craig Giammona, Bloomberg News

Weight Watchers International Inc.’s stock got another boost from the falling weight of Oprah Winfrey, the company’s backer and most famous customer. The shares climbed as much as 19 percent after Winfrey announced that she’d lost 40 pounds using the program.

How Airbnb Found a Mission—and a Brand
Leigh Gallagher, Fortune

Airbnb has been one of the signature successes of the “sharing economy.” Along with Uber, it’s a young brand that has penetrated consumers’ consciousness—and rung up a $30 billion valuation—so quickly that many people already use it as a verb.

Will J.C. Penney find a cool or heated customer response from its latest big-ticket experiment?
Maria Halkias, The Dallas Morning News

Now that it’s in the major home appliance business, J.C. Penney is looking at another big-ticket business. Plano-based Penney said it’s testing a partnership with heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems company Trane.

How One Huge American Retailer Ignored the Internet and Won
Kim Bhasin and Lindsey Rupp, Bloomberg News

When Kimberly Dulude steps into a TJ Maxx store near her job at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she likes to begin perusing a clearance aisle in the back. Then she works her way up to shoes.

Why Nike trainers are the most counterfeited shoe brand in the world
Sarah Young, Independent

The battle to shut down trainer counterfeiting operations is becoming harder and harder as illicit traders move online. Nike shoes are the most counterfeited item in the world – thanks to the distinctive swoosh and a demand from young people for expensive products on the cheap.

‘Compulsion to have expensive handbags’ lands woman in prison
Rachel Weiner, The Washington Post

Praepitcha Smatsorabudh’s business was illegal but brilliant. She would buy designer handbags from department stores, then return fake versions she had specially made in China and Hong Kong.

Media and Entertainment

Billboard Buys Spin and Vibe in a Quest to ‘Own the Topic of Music Online’
Chris Ariens, Adweek

The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group is acquiring the music assets of SpinMedia, including Spin, Vibe and Stereogum, expanding Billboard’s reach into the music news world. “In recent years, we set out to own the topic of music online, and the acquisition of these incredible music assets helps us do just that,” said Media Group co-president John Amato, adding that the deal is meant to “fully capture the value of millennials and music.”

Mobile Users Power Forbes to Record U.S. Traffic
Richard Horgan, Adweek

We all know how largely the smartphone looms when it comes to online content consumption. Nevertheless, the numbers remain staggering.

Sources: Jared Kushner Quietly Tries to Sell New York Observer
Alexandra Steigrad, WWD

Jared Kushner appears to be ready to pick up sticks and move to Washington, D.C., with his wife Ivanka Trump to become an adviser (either officially or unofficially) to his father-in-law, President-elect Donald Trump, and there’s at least one piece of Manhattan he wants to shed before he goes: The New York Observer. According to people familiar with the matter, Kushner has been quietly shopping the storied paper to potential buyers.

Katie Couric to Return to ‘Today’ Show for One Week
Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter

Katie Couric will return to her former home at NBC’s Today show as co-anchor — for one week only. The gig will have Couric filling in for current co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, who is on maternity leave. (Guthrie gave birth to her second child, a boy, Dec. 9).

Social Media and Technology

How brands and publishers are using Facebook Messenger this holiday season
Hilary Milnes, Glossy

For retailers looking to differentiate themselves from the pack during the holidays, Facebook Messenger shops and chatbots are the season’s hottest tools — they’re driving positive PR and, if they’re lucky, some sales. So far, Facebook Messenger for retailers, which rolled out in April, has emerged as two types of experiences: a facilitator for a live chat with a concierge or an AI-powered chatbot that’s programmed with predictive suggestions that follow pre-determined prompts.

Brands Tap Into Emotion for the 5 Most Engaging Facebook Posts of 2016
Rebecca Hia, Advertising Age

As video marketing continues to rise on social media, it is no suprise that the top five most engaging posts on Facebook this year are all videos, according to research by ListenFirst Media. The videos all share an emotional quality and a sense of urgency, which can be created through the musical element of video.

More Customer Service Brands Are Getting Creative With Twitter’s New Curated Profiles
Lauren Johnson, Adweek

Earlier this summer, Twitter started beta testing a new feature that gives brands more creativity and control over how their accounts appear. Now, it seems to be rolling out the feature to a wider swath of brands.

Nike’s new $720 shoe is all about the tech — and it marks a big shift for the brand
Dennis Green, Business Insider

Nike is breaking new ground with the HyperAdapt 1.0, its first self-lacing sneaker for the general public. The sneakers are pretty slick and easy to use for a first-generation product, and they’re full of promise for things to come, as I said in my hands-on review of the shoe.

Super Bowl startup competition: NFL accepting applications for $150K sports tech pitch-off
Taylor Soper, GeekWire

Calling all sports tech startups: The NFL wants to hear your ideas. The league is hosting 1st and Future, its annual Super Bowl startup competition, next month in Houston on Feb. 4, the day before Super Bowl LI.

PR and Communications

Walmart Pulling Some ‘Black Lives Matter’ Clothes After Police Union Complains
Phil Wahba, Fortune

Walmart once again finds itself embroiled in the country’s political clashes. The discount retailer said on Wednesday it is removing from its e-commerce site a line of clothing with the caption “Bulletproof – Black Lives Matter” after a police advocacy group, the National Fraternal Order of Police, complained and accused Walmart of “profiting from racial division.”

Ikea Reaches $50 Million Settlement Over Deadly Furniture Accidents
Jonah Engel Bromwich, The New York Times

Ikea has reached a tentative settlement to pay $50 million to three American families whose young children were killed after the Swedish furniture company’s furniture fell on them, lawyers for the families said on Wednesday. The families of Curren Collas, Camden Ellis and Ted McGee, all around age 2, sued after the children were crushed to death by chests or dressers in Ikea’s Malm line.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Why these Microsoft vets decided to launch an e-commerce startup in Rwanda
Monica Nickelsburg, GeekWire

In July, Joanna Bichsel left a high-level job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to move from Seattle to Kigali, Rwanda with her husband and two young children. She was chasing a calling to help women in Africa access critical healthcare products — a calling shared by Amanda Arch.

This manufacturer helps rebuild lives
Parija Kavilanz, CNN

Just outside of Denver, Colorado, a small manufacturer called the Mile High WorkShop cranks out a mishmash of products — everything from pillows and tote bags to wooden cutting boards and ski parts. Ten individuals come to work every day to its 15,000 square-feet factory space that is equipped with machines to teach sewing, woodwork, laser engraving and the basics of manufacturing.

Op-Eds, Perspectives and Research

IKEA Shows Deft Timing in Deflecting Negative News
Ian James Wright, PRNews

IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture giant, agreed Dec. 22 to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit over deaths that occurred when its dressers tipped over. IKEA had at first provided free wall-anchoring kits for the dressers after two child deaths in 2014, then recalled the dressers after a third death this year.

Year in Review: The Biggest Media and Advertising Stories of 2016
Steven Perlberg, The Wall Street Journal

There is no doubt that 2016 was an interesting year in the media and advertising industry: a digital media pioneer declared bankruptcy, investigators are probing into shady practices in the advertising business and a former TV star was elected president.

Facebook Brand Awareness Ads: What You Should Know
Dorothy Cheng, Tech.Co

Since its inception, the Facebook ads platform has been seen by marketers as a direct response vehicle since the targeting can be so granular. While Facebook’s targeting does make it a leader in driving profitable conversions for advertisers, Facebook wants to capture more of the ad spend pie by also being seen as a way to reach your audience with a message that they will remember.