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Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you're reading this online or in a forwarded email, here's the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.

TBWA promotes Moderna vaccine

With COVID-19 vaccines now being rolled out across the U.S., those behind them are investing in marketing, and one, Moderna, has appointed an agency to help instil public confidence.

Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse reveals that TBWA/Chiat/Day L.A. is behind a new consumer campaign push by the company that includes print ads in the New York Times and a digital takeover of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. The ad introduces consumers to Moderna with a statement that reads: "We've been at this for 10 years. Our mRNA platform is a modern approach to medicine. But it's just the beginning."

Two people close to the matter say Omnicom Media Group-owned Hearts & Science has also been brought in to support the media buy. The push comes as the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company is starting to deliver its COVID-19 vaccine to frontline workers and others in immediate need this week, alongside the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

 

Tequila slammer

Accenture-owned Droga5 has been on a hot new business streak recently, winning accounts such as Airbnb, Petco and a spot on the Molson Coors roster, and to round off the year it’s added another new client.

The agency’s New York and London offices have been hired to pump up Sean “Diddy” Combs’ brand empire, Combs Enterprises, reports Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz. While the business stretches across several brand units, its first task is DeLeón, a 6-year-old premium tequila brand Combs controls as part of a joint venture with liquor giant Diageo.

Droga’s role on the DeLeón covers creative and strategy and comes as the brand “seeks to further its growth ambitions and disrupt entertainment, luxury and lifestyle categories,” according to a statement provided by the agency.

‘Painting dogs’

While many are sadly going to experience a lean holiday season this year, that’s not the case for media owners in the state of Georgia. Advertising spend in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs is inching toward $500 million, reports Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco, with $483 million already spent or booked. It’s great news for local owners like Tegna, which owns WXIA (NBC) in Atlanta and WMAZ (CBS/CW) in Macon, and has reported third quarter political revenue more than 200% above the last presidential election year.

But not everyone in Georgia is this happy; some Atlantans are finding political ads to be all but inescapable. “The candidates are painting dogs here,” says Dave Fitzgerald, CEO of Atlanta-based agency Fitzco, joking that the only conceivable ad inventory left might be in the form of out-of-home rendered on area canines.

How Amazon wins

2020 has been an incredible year for Amazon, but at whose expense? The Wall Street Journal has examined the company’s business strategy and claims it has “methodically waged targeted campaigns against rivals and partners alike” including niche competitors and direct-to-consumer brands.  For example, it targeted shoe brand Allbirds by developing a model called Galen that looks nearly identical, and with furniture company Wayfair it created something called the “Wayfair Parity Team,”  in order to replicate the brand’s offerings. 

The report is the latest by the Journal to expose big tech's practices in the light of the wider government antitrust inquiry; this week it also looks at news publishers' allegations that Google runs a digital advertising monopoly.

Just briefly

Media comebacks: Crain's Chicago Business reports that former NBA player Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman is set to be the new owner of Ebony Media, bidding $14 million to buy the bankrupt media company. Meanwhile Street Media, a California investment group that owns LA Weekly, has acquired iconic New York weekly the Village Voice, which closed in 2018, and will revive it, reports the Wall Street Journal. 

Review news: Post Consumer Brands has named Barkley its agency-of-record across four of its cereals: Honey Bunches of Oats, Great Grains, Honeycomb and the Pebbles family of brands, writes Ad Age’s Lindsay Rittenhouse. Meanwhile, Home Depot has entered the next round of its creative review, shortlisting agencies including The Martin Agency and McCann.

Helping out: In Argentina, Heineken is diverting its outdoor media budget to buying ads on the shutters of closed bars to help their stricken owners reopen, in a campaign via Publicis. The shutters are painted with the message "See this ad today, enjoy this bar tomorrow.” Read more over at Creativity. 

Onion-worthy: Ad Age’s end-of-year reviews continue all of this week, including the year’s most Onion-worthy headlines. In what's admittedly been a bizarre year, see if you can spot the real Onion headline among them. (Clue: it's not "Steak-umm emerges as a surprising voice of reason during COVID-19.)


This will be our final Wake-Up Call of 2020; we'll be back on Jan. 4, 2021 and in the meantime we wish all our readers a happy, healthy and safe holiday and a well-earned rest. Check AdAge.com for any breaking news over the holidays.