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And the award goes to ... diversity

The 93rd Academy Awards were finally handed out last night in Los Angeles, two months late and in what the New York Times called a “low-key, stripped-down-to-the-essentials ceremony.” But after the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco of 2015 and 2016, this year’s awards provided something of a welcome boost for diversity.

Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win best director and her film, “Nomadland,” was named best picture. (The film's success also ended an almost 20-year drought for Walt Disney Co. at the awards.) Daniel Kaluuya was named best supporting actor for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn won best supporting actress for “Minari” and female writer/actor Emerald Fennell won for best original screenplay for “Promising Young Woman.” 

Other gains for diversity included “Soul,” the Pixar film about a Black musician stuck between Earth and the afterlife, winning best animated film and score, while Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson were the first Black women to win the makeup and hairstyling Oscar for their work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” However, despite being widely predicted as a winner for that movie, the late Chadwick Boseman lost out to Anthony Hopkins for best actor.

Trophy hunters

Despite the lack of champagne, opulence and blockbuster movies on offer at this year’s awards show, advertisers were still out in force during the broadcast on ABC. As Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft reports, “advertising heavyweights including Verizon, AARP, General Motors’ Cadillac, and Procter & Gamble all spent a pretty penny” to advertise during the show.

ABC, which officially sold out of inventory earlier in the week, also saw its figures buoyed by first-timer advertisers, not unlike this year’s Super Bowl, with many of them using the awards as a springboard to launch new creative. Apartments.com, Airbnb, Freshpet and Grey Goose were among the Oscar rookies.

Other notable Oscars advertisers included Google, which aired two new spots during the awards. One told the story of Tony Lee, a lead designer at Google Brand Studio who is also a child of deaf adults, while the second featured the Netflix film, “My Octopus Teacher,” showing how it helped a dad spark his son’s curiosity and excitement about learning with the aid of Google tools.

Deodorant for disability

As the Oscars finally become diverse, more marketers are taking an inclusive approach when it comes to design. Unilever is launching a prototype of what it says is the world’s first deodorant for people with visual impairment and upper-limb motor disabilities.

Ad Age’s Jack Neff and Jeanine Poggi report that the product, rolling out under the name Degree Inclusive in the U.S, and Rexona Inclusive elsewhere in the world, “includes a hooked design for one-handed usage, magnetic closures that make it easier to take the cap off and put it back on for users with limited grip or vision impairment, enhanced grip placement for people with limited grip or no arms, a Braille label and instructions and a larger roll-on applicator that makes it easier to reach more surface per swipe.”

The product was born out of a project launched by Christina Mallon, global head of Wunderman Thompson’s inclusive design practice, who herself has arm paralysis.

From burgers to gaming

Following his surprise move from Restaurant Brands International to Activision Blizzard earlier this month, many people are wondering what former Burger King guru Fernando Machado will bring to the gaming world. Now, in his first interview since taking the role, Machado and his new boss, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, give Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing an insight into what to expect.

Machado, who reveals his excitement at the new opportunity (“I almost feel like closing my door here and screaming, ‘I’m working with video games!’) discusses his belief that gaming is evolving and how creativity and a constant stream of content will help drive the future of its franchises. “It’s almost like people used to play a game and now people own that game,” he says.

Meanwhile, Kotick explains his choice of hire “I asked people who are engaged in marketing: Who is the most inspired, creative, thoughtful marketer in the world? Universally, I kept hearing Fernando.”

Just briefly

The Week Ahead: Apple releases its long-awaited iOS 14.5 update today, and it’s a big week for quarterly earnings in tech and digital advertising, with results due from Google, Microsoft and Pinterest. Plus, get your mint juleps ready—the Kentucky Derby runs on Saturday. Check our weekly calendar roundup here. 

Don't forget: Tomorrow is the final deadline for this year's Small Agency Awards. We want to hear how you survived the headwinds of 2020, how your creative product and strategic thinking helped a client's business and why the culture that you've built not only helps win clients, but also nurtures talent and builds a better future for the industry. Enter at adage.com/saa2021.

Toxic selfies: Dove tackles the toxic culture of heavily edited selfies in its latest ad tackling women's self-esteem issues. The new spot, created via Ogilvy London, shows the work that goes into creating a selfie in reverse, in an update of the Unilever brand’s Cannes Grand Prix-winning 2006 spot “Evolution.” The campaign took the No. 1 spot in Creativity's Top 5 Creative ideas of the week; check out the live review here.


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