Select Page

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today
The advertising world just cut one of its biggest-ever deals: France’s Publicis Groupe is buying U.S. data-marketing giant Epsilon from Alliance Data Systems for about $4.4 billion. Publicis, which owns agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, BBH and Publicis Media, will gain new consumer-data credentials and insights when the transaction goes through.

Publicis Group’s CEO and chairman, Arthur Sadoun, told Ad Age’s George Slefo that he flew between Paris and the U.S. every week for three months during negotiations. “I look 15 years older,” he jokes. One goal of the deal, he says, is to “link data, dynamic creativity and technology to make sure our clients can deliver personalized experiences at scale.”

Publicis and other agency holding companies, Slefo writes, are facing a time of transformation due to shifts in digital marketing, clients cutting costs and competition from consultancies. The hope is that gaining access to more consumer data can help future-proof big agency groups. Interpublic Group of Cos.' made a similar bet when it bought Acxiom Corp.'s Marketing Solutions business for $2.3 billion.

By the numbers: The deal is not too far off from Dentsu Inc.’s $4.9 billion purchase of Aegis Group in 2013, the biggest acquisition ever for an agency company. 

Nike + Tiger
“In sports, few things resonate like a comeback story,” E.J. Schultz writes in Ad Age. And Nike quickly seized on Tiger Woods' victory this weekend at the Masters, his first big win since 2008. Nike and Wieden & Kennedy released a video blending old and new footage of Woods, including a video of him as a 3-year-old kid predicting, “I’m going to beat Jack Nicklaus.” Woods now has 15 titles, not far off from Nicklaus’ 18. The spot taps into Nike’s “Dream Crazy” theme, the spot commented on how “crazy” it is that 43-year-old Woods is still chasing the same dream. He is "the second-oldest winner of the Masters, behind Jack Nicklaus, who won here in 1986 at age 46," The New York Times reports.

By the way: Nicklaus congratulated Woods and told the Golf Channel: “He’s got me shaking in my boots, guys.”  

‘Game of Thrones’ glitches
The eighth and final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” debuted last night (no plot spoilers here, don’t worry) and there were hiccups. As Cnet reports, DirecTV Now accidentally gave people access to the episode a few hours early. Other fans had the opposite problem. Reuters, citing Downdetector.com, writes that some HBO GO users had issues watching the show. The problems reportedly affected some viewers in the U.S. and Latin America as fans swarmed the service to watch. “Winter is...put on hold cause HBO GO is kinda fucked right now,” one viewer tweeted. “HBO GO YOU HAVE HAD TWO SOLID YEARS TO FIGURE THIS OUT,” someone else griped.

Also: HBO made a Snapchat augmented-reality lens looked as if a dragon were landing on the Flatiron Building in New York. Read more by Ad Age’s Garett Sloane.

Just briefly:
Bad things come in threes:
Facebook “suffered its third major outage this year, with users across the world unable to access the social network or its suite of services such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp,” Bloomberg News reports. The outage lasted for several hours Sunday morning in U.S. time zones.

Music + ads: “Amazon has entered into discussions to launch a free, ad-supported music service” to try to counter Spotify, Billboard reports.

Hack attack: Hackers were “able to access email content from a large number of Outlook, MSN and Hotmail email accounts,” Vice reports.

‘Fuct’: A streetwear brand named “FUCT” will go to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday and challenge a “federal law that says officials should refuse to register trademarks that are ‘scandalous’ or ‘immoral.’” Read more by The Associated Press.

Creativity pick of the day: Coca-Cola made unusual orb-shaped bottles to be sold at Disney’s new “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” theme parks, Age’s E.J. Schutz writes. The bottle is futuristic-looking with a strangely ancient vibe, which is very much the “Star Wars” aesthetic. Check them out here.