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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. 

Hands in the cookie jar

Good morning! Before you head off for your weekend—which, for a lot of us, means relaxing on the same couch we've been working on all week—here’s the news that’s making waves in the industry. Earlier this week, Google announced it would shut out other industry efforts to replace third-party cookies, choosing instead to implement its own ad targeting and tracking solutions. While some people see the move as a win for consumers and privacy, industry experts view it as a way for Google to further mark its power over ad tech, advertisers and publishers, write Ad Age’s Mike Juang and Garett Sloane.

If Google chooses to stay within its own ecosystem, ad tech companies could be cut off from the search giant’s ad platform and advertisers would be forced to adapt to its changes. For brands and publishers, it means that direct relationships with consumers and readers become even more important, says Andrew Casale, president and CEO of ad marketplace Index Exchange.

“It’s almost as if Google wants fewer cars on the road: The world will be safer; we'll keep our Ferrari; and with proposals such as FLoC, everyone else can have a bicycle,” said ad tech company The Trade Desk in a statement, which previously supported the industry wide initiative Unified ID 2.0 as an alternative to the cookie. Google's FLoC, or Federated Learning of Cohorts, is a potential cookie replacement.

Google’s decision won’t necessarily affect all companies equally. Brands like Avocados From Mexico have been building out their first-party datasets for years, and ad tech companies are still aiming to create alternatives to the third-party cookie.

Power couple

Snapchat has a new deal with Gannett where the sales teams of newspaper giant, which publishes USA Today, will be trained to sell Snapchat advertising. Not only that, they will manage those campaigns with local businesses, and build operations.

A Snapchat spokesperson tells Ad Age’s Garett Sloane that Gannett has a pipeline into 100,000 small businesses across the U.S. It’s part of Snapchat’s plan to secure a future for online advertising. In return, Snapchat says it's helping Gannett reach its millennial and Gen Z users and would enable small businesses to distribute coupons, an important part of local newspapers’ advertising.

The New Normal?

Most of the world might still be wearing masks and practicing social distancing, but that doesn’t seem to matter to clothier Suitsupply which is out with a new ad campaign called “The New Normal,” showcasing a staged “orgy” where men and women in their underwear share saliva—and, frankly, there are only one or two suits present. The orgy snapshots are running on the brand’s website, social channels and in-store displays. Fokee de Jong, Suitsupply’s founder and CEO tells Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli that the campaign looks forward to the time when people can once again come together.

Consumers are giving the campaign mixed reviews. “Suitsupply’s ad team should ask for a bonus today,” tweets one Twitter user. “Who wears a suit to an orgy?” remarks one tweet. Another: “They’re not quite reading the room.” Either way, the brand saw more social mentions on Thursday than it has all week. Still, we don't recommend enacting the themes of this campaign at this time.

Just briefly

It’s all so confusing: “Karen hates judgy people … does that make her judgy? Probably. She’s confused.” Burger King worked with David Madrid on new humorous radio ads for Spotify and Dax that verbalize the “confusing times” we’re all living in today. They really all speak to how the restaurant’s Impossible Whopper can be confusing, since it's not actually made from beef.

CR Recommended: Consumer Reports is a popular resource for helping people decide which vehicle or other product to purchase. To make the process even easier, the consumer research nonprofit is adding new “CR Recommended” labels to products that meet its safety, performance and reliability criteria.

Munch on this: For those of you who like to snack while watching YouTube videos, Lay’s has created a way to not let your munching and chomping noises overpower the sound of the videos you’re watching. The brand worked with FCB-owned Vietnamese agency Happiness Saigon to create a Google Chrome plug that detects sounds of crunching chips and then automatically turns on the subtitles for your viewing pleasure. Artificial intelligence was used to analyze 178 hours of chip crunch sounds … that’s a lot of crunch time.

Watch this: For Women’s History Month and right ahead of International Women’s Day, Google is out with a film that celebrates women who were first in their fields, ranging across industries and decades—from pilot Amelia Earhart to Özlem Türeci, the woman behind a COVID-19 vaccine.

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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