Wednesday, October 2, 2019

ANA’s annual conference starts. And Nike confronts a doping scandal: Wednesday Wake-Up Call | Advertising Age

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Meditations on marketing
Starting today, brand marketers are shutting themselves off from the outside world to reflect on topics like “The Reawakening of Chipotle” and “The Power of Love at Dunkin.” Don’t laugh: Those are actual conference titles at the Association of National Advertisers’ annual “Masters of Marketing” event, which runs through Saturday in Orlando, Florida. It’s where marketers go for enlightenment.

Though many speakers will be CMOs telling inspirational stories about their companies, ANA also now offers programming with more unexpected or free-wheeling perspectives, too. Strategic consultant Joseph Jaffe is set to forecast the demise of the corporate era, which "seems an odd choice for an event that lures marketing execs from some of the biggest corporations in the world," Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz and Jack Neff write. Read their take on what to expect in Orlando, such as discussion about the FBI’s investigation into shadowy media-buying practices, but also “navel-gazing about the evolution of the CMO role.” 

Oh, and OneRepublic is performing tonight, too.

Blurred lines
Big corporate players are devoting a lot of energy to creating start-up-like direct-to-consumer brands; Procter & Gamble has 180 of them. Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli and Jack Neff look at the “blurring of d-to-c and established brands,” with young and established players trying to emulate each other's tactics. They're doing battle, too. Take what happened after women’s razor brand Billie launched in 2017. By the following year, as Pasquarelli and Neff write, P&G “had prepped the launch of a new women’s shaving brand, Joy, priced and positioned similar to Billie, to be sold exclusively at Walmart”—a way of blocking Billie out of the biggest U.S. retailer. With an explosion of new brands from big and indie players alike, it's survival of the fittest.

Nike and a doping scandal
Alberto Salazar, a Nike-backed coach of Olympic champion runners, was just banned from track and field for four years for anti-doping violations, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency says. So was a Nike-sponsored doctor, Jeffrey S. Brown. And there’s more to the story: Salazar repeatedly “briefed top Nike Inc. officials, including chief executive Mark Parker, on his experiments to manipulate the use of performance-enhancing drugs for track and field athletes,” The Wall Street Journal reports, citing documents from USADA. 

So was Nike’s top executive aware of something shady going on? No, he says. “I would never condone cheating of any kind in sport or otherwise and I expect you wouldn’t either,” the Nike CEO wrote to employees, The Journal reports. Salazar also denies anything was amiss and plans to appeal. Their years-old emails, excerpted in The Journal, are worth looking at (especially the one that Salazar allegedly sent Lance Armstrong years ago, before the cyclist's own downfall for doping).

Nike’s strong reputation helped it weather other setbacks recently, including a revolt by female Nike employees fed up with what they saw as a toxic company culture for women. Will this case be the same? 

Just briefly:
New York’s attorney general sued the National Rifle Association’s former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen, to try to force it to comply with a subpoena, Bloomberg News reports. The state is probing the gun-rights group’s nonprofit status and has sought information from the NRA’s longtime agency, which appears to be concerned about what it can hand over under non-disclosure agreements.

Opioids: Johnson & Johnson says it “reached a $20.4 million settlement with two Ohio counties on the eve of a huge federal trial to determine who is responsible for the nation’s opioid epidemic,” The Washington Post writes.

Taste the feeling: Coca-Cola is bringing its Coke Energy drink to the U.S. in January, Bloomberg News writes. Advertising will be handled by Coca-Cola roster agency Wieden & Kennedy, a Coke spokeswoman tells Ad Age.

Not-quite-done deal: Vice Media is in the final stages of talks to acquire digital publisher Refinery29, a “cash-and-stock deal that would add a large and female-skewing digital media company to Vice’s portfolio,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Product of the day: Now there's a self-driving garbage can to take out the trash out for you, Gizmodo reports.

Ad of the day: You may never have the chance to sip a can of Lemon & Paeroa, a New Zealand soft drink. You should nonetheless check out its latest commercial, which is maybe the most cheerful piece of filmmaking ever made about a zombie apocalypse. Sheryl Crow's hit "All I Wanna Do" is the soundtrack to the tale of two zombies out for a good time; it was made by DDB New Zealand and directed by Sweetshop's Damien Shatford. Read more by Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine, and watch it here

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