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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.

Glory days for Jeep?

Only two days left until advertising’s biggest event and advertisers are still unveiling their commercials—or, in the case of Jeep, trying to keep them under tight wraps. We say trying because, despite the company’s notoriously tight-lipped approach to Super Bowl ads, details of its Super Bowl campaign might be leaking. Eagle-eyed media in Hastings, Nebraska say locals have spotted none other than Bruce Springsteen there, who is suspected to be filming a Big Game commercial for the automaker, reports E.J. Schultz.

If true, this would be a huge coup for Stellantis Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois, who has been hounding Springsteen to appear in an ad for years, but with no surrender. “He’s not for sale,” Francois told Schultz in a 2018 interview. “He’s not for rent. And there’s nothing you have that he wants.” Or is there? “The circumstances the nation is in this year—battered by political strife and the pandemic—could possibly have changed things, making an appearance by a star who is known for his social activism more palatable,” writes Schultz.

If Springsteen was indeed in the Cornhusker State, he may have been revisiting the scene of the crime. In 1982 he recorded an album called “Nebraska” and its title track of the same name is about a serial killer named Charlie Starkweather.




Go big or go home

The Game Day lineup so far has got a galaxy full of stars, but Paramount+ is outshining them all, packing two dozen in one 60-second promotion. The new ViacomCBS streaming service’s commercial features its top talents scaling a snowy mountain (which is its symbol, get it?) including Jeff Probst, Tom Selleck, Gayle King, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, DJ Kahled, Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants and Beavis and Butt-head.

Putting this star trek together was a tough climb for Droga5 and O Positive Films’ David Shane. “Even in normal times, this would be very ambitious,” Dan Kelly, group creative director at Droga5 told Ethan Jakob Craft, adding that  COVID-19 restrictions “quadrupled, if not more than that, the complications of [the production].” Writes Craft: “On top of juggling the schedules of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, producers were faced with near-constant script writing as celebrities signed on (and dropped out of) the shoot, while on-set crews and editors had to contend with filming every character’s role separately—and in some cases, remotely.” Said Kelly, “Once we got into it, it was like, well, we’re committed! We have to swing for the fences, we have to go big.”

Test your Super Bowl ad skills

How many songs did Kraft Heinz’s agency go through to find just the right tune for the 2016 “Wiener Stampede” Big Game ad? (Hint: it was in the hundreds.) What spot did David Shane (cited in the item above) wish he did? For answers to this and other burning Super Bowl ad trivia, check out the Ad Age and Creativity staff’s interviews with Big Game ad creators. And remember time’s running out to amaze your friends with your advance knowledge of this year’s spots during your virtual game-day party, so make sure to study up on our cheat sheet—Jeanine Poggi’s Five Trends to Watch For here. 

Zucker punch

Jeff Zucker is stepping down as president of CNN at the end of the year when his contract is up, according to Bloomberg News. The broadcast veteran was in the post since 2013 and is credited for making CNN more personality-driven with anchors like Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo. 

“Under Zucker, CNN has tried to portray itself as a source for straight news and distinguish itself between Comcast’s left-leaning MSNBC and the right-leaning Fox News, adopting the slogan ‘facts first’ in a marketing campaign,” writes Bloomberg. “But while covering the story, the network has also at times become part of the story, namely when former President Donald Trump frequently denounced CNN as ‘fake news.’ During a single week last year, one of CNN’s reporters was arrested while on camera, demonstrators descended on the network’s Atlanta offices, and its anchors clashed with the [former] president.”

But with the new, less pugilistic  administration, Bloomberg says CNN is already experiencing a ratings slowdown that will force a new strategy to keep viewers tuned in.

Just briefly

Wait, there’s more: Election technology company Smartmatic has filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and some of its commentators, says the Washington Post, “alleging that they ‘decimated’ the company’s business by accusing it of helping to steal the Nov. 3. election from former president Donald Trump.” 

A beautiful win: Multicultural hair-care brand Cantu Beauty and networking coalition 25 Black Women In Beauty chose the winners of their “beauty business accelerator” that mentors three up-and-coming brands owned and operated by Black women. The winners recieve an ad campaign valued at approximately $160,000 in cooperation with Reddish and the VaynerX’s Sasha Group.

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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