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Sam Adams spoofs Bud’s Clydesdales

In the wake of the news about Budweiser sitting out the Super Bowl this year, a rival beer has jumped in with an ad that pokes fun at the brand’s iconic Clydesdales.  

Sam Adams is running an ad via Goodby Silverstein & Partners in Boston and New York during the game plugging its new Wicked Hazy IPA, reports Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz. After initially mimicking the sentimental music that normally accompanies them in the Bud ads, the spot shows the horses breaking free from their wagon and wreaking havoc in a town. It’s all thanks to the Sam Adams ad character “Your Cousin From Boston,” who thoughtlessly caused the mischief by removing a pin from the wagon. 

It’s a fun spot but does have the potential to cause a legal kerfuffle; as Schultz points out, AB InBev has a trademark for the Clydesdales and, while brands are legally free to use images associated with competitors for comparative advertising, they can’t be used in a disparaging way. So far, AB InBev has refused to comment (not even a disgruntled whinny.)

See all the Super Bowl commercials released so far here and catch up on all the news related to the Big Game in senior editor Jeanine Poggi’s latest roundup. And join Ad Age on Feb. 2 for a look at how brands are navigating the pandemic and addressing diversity in their ads for the 2021 game.

Brewer joins Walgreens

News emerged yesterday of a significant retail CEO appointment: Walgreens Boots Alliance is hiring Starbucks operating chief Roz Brewer to run the pharmacy chain.

Brewer becomes the only Black female CEO in the S&P 500 index (the first since Ursula Burns left Xerox in 2016). The hire, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will see her charged with reinvigorating the sprawling pharmacy empire in the face of online competition, after her success in bolstering digital sales at Starbucks. 

Brewer's departure was earlier in the day revealed by Starbucks as it disclosed quarterly results; her responsibilities are being distributed to other members of the leadership team. Starbucks said the U.S. will return to positive territory this quarter as it moves past the worst of the pandemic-related shutdowns. Under Brewer's watch, the number of active rewards members in the U.S. reached 21.8 million at the end of 2020, up 15% for the year.

YouTube suspends Giuliani, extends Trump ban

YouTube said last night that it had suspended Rudy Giuliani from its partner program for at least 30 days after he repeatedly shared misinformation about the 2020 presidential election.

As reported by Bloomberg News, the move means the Trump attorney can’t make money from advertising on his videos. Giuliani was also temporarily suspended from uploading videos for one week, a restriction that has expired, and YouTube also shut off his access to some YouTube features, such as partner support. 

The news emerged as YouTube also said was extending Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform, according to CNET. Also, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki yesterday published a letter highlighting the video service’s economic contributions in the midst of regulatory scrutiny over its market power and handling of misinformation. She pointed out YouTube has paid more than $30 billion to content creators, artists and media companies in the last three years.

The musical as agency manifesto

Plenty of agencies create “manifestos” about their approaches to creating brand messages. But, as Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz writes, when a potential client recently asked Slap Global, the new creative company formed by ad vets Gerry Graf and Maxi Itzkoff, for its credentials, the founders delivered something completely unexpected: a mini musical.

The pair tapped composer Andrew Sherman and persuaded actor Ciarán Sheehan, who has played the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, to appear in their show (which also includes lots of stock footage of people getting slapped—a play on the agency name.) You can watch it here.

Just briefly

Tik vape: TikTok videos featuring top brands of disposable e-cigarettes and vapes for sale have been appearing on the app, despite a U.S. ban on selling to those under the age of 21, reports TechCrunch. The videos “clearly target a teenage customer base” with flavors including fruit and mint, says the report.

Beyond PepsiCo: Beyond Meat and PepsiCo are forming a joint venture focused on creating, producing and marketing new plant-based snacks and drinks, the companies reported Tuesday.

Gaming gains: Microsoft’s sales were up 17% over last year in its latest quarter, while profits rose 33% to $15.5 billion, reports The New York Times, as it continues to benefit from the pandemic’s shift to remote computing and gaming.

Melon dog? Mtn Dew’s Super Bowl teaser is set in a vibrant, pink-hued “Melontown,” with an adorable pup who appears carved out of chunks of watermelon. Take a look here over at Creativity and see if you can work out where this one is going.  

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. From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here. 

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