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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.

Kicking off

P&G has scored a multi-year sponsorship with Major League Soccer, in a deal that brings a whole range of its brands in front of an important new demographic.

Ad Age’s Jack Neff reports that the agreement, which includes Gillette, Old Spice, Crest, Oral B, Dawn, Charmin and Bounty, covers tie-ins with the Mexican National Team’s U.S. Tour and the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup competitions between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX teams. 

The deal also sees P&G strengthen its grip on major sports, adding to its existing agreements with the National Football League, International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and puts P&G brands in front of a league whose demographics are strong on Gen Z, millennial and Hispanic fans.  But it also points to soccer’s growing wider significance as a sport in the U.S; MLS is the fastest-growing U.S. professional sports league and the arrival of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America is likely to be a catalyst for further growth during the deal.

Dating with Pepsi

PepsiCo has been promoting its new Pepsi Mango flavor with the “surprisingly perfect pairing” tagline, and now it’s doubling down on that idea with a reality TV dating show, hooking up with ViacomCBS.

“Match Me If You Can” will debut on April 21 in a takeover of commercial breaks during MTV's series "The Challenge: Double Agents," writes Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft, who describes it as “a reality show within a reality show that solely stars contestants from reality shows past.”

If you're struggling to get your head round that, the idea is to bring together reality TV stars from different franchises (and fan bases) to see if any of them can find their own “surprisingly perfect pairing.” Contestants include alumni of shows like “The Bachelorette”; “Love Island” and “Big Brother,” while the show will be hosted by Lauren Speed Hamilton, who appeared on Netflix’s “Love Is Blind.” The show is produced by ViacomCBS’s in-house content studio Velocity.

‘Tinder for the creative world’

Continuing with the dating theme, get ready to swipe right on freelancers. Ad Age’s Judann Pollack reports that Sir John Hegarty, advertising veteran and BBH founder, has signed up as chairman of new online service called Genie using artificial intelligence to match freelance creatives with agencies and marketing companies.

Hegarty describes it as “a Tinder for the creative world,” and says it plays into two current trends: the growing distributed workforce and the move toward project-based work. Clients pitch a brief and the algorithm does the matching with creatives, who become part of the service via invitation only. Saatchi & Saatchi, Virtue and Droga5 have already signed up. 

Plans for Cannes

After Cannes Lions reverted to an all-digital event this year, organizers are forging ahead with plans for how exactly that will look. Ad Age caught up with Cannes Lions Chairman Philip Thomas, who explains how its globally far-flung juries will deliberate on Zoom in four-hour sessions, and daily live announcements will both reveal award winners and give viewers “deep dives” into the context behind the work.  Delegates will also be able to network in a virtual space, and there may even be entertainment of some kind; Cannes Lions is looking at ideas such as a concert and some form of end-of-festival celebration.

Taco solo

For New Yorkers starting to head back into the city, being near actual people in real life again might be kind of scary. But at least  now they can buy themselves a taco while remaining at a safe social distance, because Taco Bell is opening its first digital-only restaurant in Times Square today. Crain’s New York Business reports that the location “will replace traditional menus with self-serve kiosks and feature order-ahead pick-up cubbies, allowing customers to walk in, grab their food and go.”

Just briefly

Next for Slack: Slack’s Chief Marketing Officer Julie Liegl joins Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi in today’s live edition of Ad Age Remotely to discuss how Slack will look to speak to consumers in the next phase of the pandemic, as vaccines roll out and offices start to reopen and welcome back employees. Tune in here at 12.30p.m. EDT.

Moving in: CPB has tapped GSD&M President Marianne Malina to be its new global CEO, writes Creativity editor Ann-Christine Diaz. The appointment is the agency’s latest move to rebuild, following major account losses of Infiniti and Domino's as well as the departure of key execs.

Sign up now: Is this a turning point for retail? The pandemic has altered shopping behaviors in ways never seen before, but not every brand is ready. Prepare your marketing team at Ad Age Next: Retail where execs from Walmart, eBay, Petco, Mattel and more will share their strategies. Register today at adage.com/nextretail.

‘Dry, mayo-less lives’: Kraft Mayo admits that not everyone loves mayonnaise in its first campaign from Wieden+Kennedy New York, writes Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl.  “Some people don’t like velvety smooth Kraft Mayo,” the voiceover says in one spot for the polarizing condiment. “That’s OK, let them live their dry, mayo-less lives. Seems like a them problem to us.”


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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