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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.

Taylor moves to Ogilvy

Liz Taylor is taking the role of global chief creative officer at Ogilvy, as the outgoing Leo Burnett exec returns to the agency where she worked five years ago. Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports that Taylor replaces Piyush Pandey, who is taking on a new role as chairman of global creative and will continue to serve as chairman of Ogilvy India. 

Taylor’s hire comes as Ogilvy looks to recover from a rough stretch, and it continues Global CEO Andy Main’s remaking of the leadership team, which includes the appointments of Carina De Blois, promoted to replace the outgoing Lauren Crampsie as president, and Devika Bulchandani to CEO of Ogilvy North America, joining from McCann Worldgroup.

Taylor will oversee creative output across 132 offices in 83 countries and while she will remain in her home base of Chicago, she is expected to spend considerable time in New York. Leo Burnett confirmed her exit last week, naming Chaka Sobhani, U.K. creative chief, to the global chief creative officer role.

AT&T and Discovery plan media mega-merger

Less than three years after its $85 million acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T is preparing to spin off its media business and merge it with Discovery, it emerged this weekend. 

Bloomberg News reports that a deal could be announced as soon as this week to create a giant business combining AT&T properties such as CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, TBS and TNT with Discovery assets including HGTV, Food Network, TLC and Animal Planet.

The deal would mark a major shift in AT&T’s strategy of assembling telecommunications and media assets under one roof and would come as something of a surprise after it fought so hard to acquire Time Warner. But should the merger go ahead, it would create a new company “bigger than Netflix or NBCUniversal” observes the New York Times, and just behind Walt Disney Co. And it could set off a new round of media mergers as TV giants compete for audiences increasingly glued to social media.

Upfronts tackle diversity

One year into the social justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd, diversity and multicultural marketing will take center stage during the pitches from TV network groups at the (virtual) TV upfronts this week.

Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports that media agencies will be looking to find content and media properties that are inclusive and representative of brands’ consumer bases and help marketers meet diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Publicis, for example, has sent out inquiries asking how media companies are investing in diversity, equity and inclusion internally, and also how DE&I shows up in their productions. TV networks are prepared; during its upfront pitch on Wednesday, WarnerMedia will unveil The Milestone Initiative, a multi-month campaign that provides a platform for “Black stories and Black imagination to flourish" while Fox will highlight how all of its TV pilots were written by women.

Goodbye to “sluggish” Coke Energy

Coke is axing its Coca-Cola Energy drink in the U.S. and Canada after (somewhat ironically) “sluggish sales.”

As Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft writes, Coke Energy didn’t last long; it was launched with a glitzy Super Bowl ad, featuring Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill, in January 2020 as Coke took on the likes of Monster Energy and Red Bull. However, it had the bad luck of trying to attract customers just as COVID-19 struck, convenience store traffic dropped and Americans turned to more familiar brands. (And stuck at home, energy drinks were perhaps the last thing we needed in the pandemic.)

Coke said in a statement that its strategy is “focused on scaling big bets across a streamlined portfolio.” The brand, however, will continue in some markets, including several European countries.

 

Just briefly

The Week Ahead: Nominations for 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s annual list of rising stars in marketing, media and agencies, open this week. Plus, Walmart and Ralph Lauren report earnings, Nick Jonas will host the 2021 Billboard Music Awards and the NBA Playoffs begin. Check our calendar roundup

Mask-free lattes: Following last week's federal government advice about mask relaxation, Starbucks and Costco are among retailers now allowing fully vaccinated customers to go mask-free, reports the New York Times. However, somewhat problematically, businesses for the most part have not said they would require customers to show proof that they have been vaccinated.

Chicken sandwich porn: Carl’s Jr. is turning to “food porn” to propel its entry into the chicken sandwich wars. A new campaign from 72andSunny is running on OnlyFans (the social site known for, ahem, the other kind of porn) and features “suggestive” videos such as a hand stroking a giant pickle and a finger caressing a cushiony bun. You can see them over at Creativity, and don’t forget to catch up the team’s live review of the Top 5 creative ideas of the week.

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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