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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. 

'Party in the U.S.A.

Good morning! Remember last week when we reported that brands were delaying their Super Bowl announcements for after the week of Joe Biden’s inauguration? Well, here they come. On Monday, Michelob Ultra premiered its Super Bowl spot featuring top athletes like Serena Williams and Anthony Davis, Chipotle released its first Super Bowl ad and Huggies announced it will become the first diaper brand to run a Super Bowl ad.

TikTok is also getting in on the Super Bowl this year in its own virtual way. As competitor Triller gets ready to make its Super Bowl ad debut, TikTok is teaming up with the National Football League for a virtual tailgate party starring Miley Cryus, who has 8.5 million followers on the platform. “The NFL TikTok Tailgate will feature special guests from the NFL, TikTok creators, surprise musical performances, game day cooking segments, and much more,” Ad Age’s Garett Sloane quotes TikTok’s announcement.

Budweiser, on the other hand, will skip the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years, instead using the ad spend to support the Ad Council’s coronavirus vaccine education campaign. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz writes that Budweiser has an ad out promoting the move, narrated by Rashida Jones, and showing healthcare workers getting the vaccine.

We are keeping track of all the full commercials brands are releasing ahead of the Big Game. Bookmark this page to keep track. So far, Michelob Ultra, Chipotle, Mercari and Vroom have shown viewers exactly what to expect. Also, be sure to join us on Feb. 2 for our “Ad Age In-Depth: Super Bowl” event where we will look at how brands are navigating the Big Game this year amid the pandemic and other stressors.

Puttering on

Golf champion Justin Thomas has been garnering nothing but negative press ever since Jan.9, the day he missed a hole and murmured an anti-gay slur while competing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. It lost him his sponsor, Ralph Lauren. Another sponsor, however, is sticking with the controversial athlete, and is looking to repair his regrettable behavior with goodwill.

Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli reports that Citi is working with the golfer to use his platforms to garner support for the LGBTQ+ community and will donate some of his Citi 2021 sponsorship fees to LGBTQ+ organizations. “We will work with Justin, our internal Pride networks and LGBTQ+ organizations to develop an action plan to quickly move this effort forward,” wrote Citi Chief Marketing Officer Carla Hassan in a blog post.

In the frankly worded post, called “When an apology is not enough,” Hassan wrote about finding the homophobic slur “beyond offensive” and in “sharp contrast to what we stand for as a company.” Hassan noted that Citi has consulted with many in the LGBTQ+ community and said that some in that community, and within Citi as well, supported ending the sponsorship of Thomas.

‘Harry Potter’ backlash

J.K. Rowling continues to see backlash following her anti-trans tweets from this past summer. On Monday, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that a Harry Potter TV series is in development for HBO Max. Both HBO Max and Warner Bros. have issued statements denying the news.

With the streaming wars continuing to drive up competition, it wouldn’t be a surprise that HBO Max would bank on a series likely to send viewers its way. Still, “JK Rowling” trended on Monday, with people saying they don’t want another series that would earn Rowling more royalties.

Tweet tweet

Twitter is hoping a community of “Birdwatchers” will help manage misinformation on its platform. The platform’s “Birdwatch” program allows users to flag information in tweets that they believe might be misleading or outright wrong, reports NBC News. The project will only be available to a small set of users at first and will live in a separate section of Twitter. Several outlets are comparing the program to what happened with Wikipedia or Reddit, where a community of users came together to protect the integrity of the sites.

Just briefly:

Cheers to new traditions: America’s oldest craft brewery, Anchor Brewing, has introduced a redesign meant for a new generation of drinkers, with the help of R/GA and Moosylvania. The new look, which will appear in stores next month, emphasizes the beer brand’s anchor emblem and comes along with new brews, including Anchor Brewing’s first-ever low-calorie product, writes Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft. Not bad for a 125-year-old brand.  

Taboola to become publicly traded: Taboola is the latest SPAC to debut on a U.S. exchange after merging with ION Acquisition Corp 1 Ltd. at a $2.6 billion valuation. The service, which helps brands advertise on highly trafficked websites and apps, plans on expanding into artificial intelligence and e-commerce, according to Bloomberg.

WrestleMania to stream: WWE has chosen NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock as its exclusive home where fans can access pay-per-view showdowns, original series and past match-ups, writes Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft.

Love and fries: A new McDonald’s spot from TBWA/Spain is meet cute for COVID times, where a boy and girl flirt across the drive-thru.

That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. Thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.

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