The surreal, creepy new ‘Cats’ movie obviously needs a John Mulaney rewrite


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So Universal Pictures took to the internet on Thursday to hack up its trailer for the new “Cats” movie like some sort of pre-dinner hairball, and the internet is, um, confused? But definitely not indifferent. On YouTube, the trailer has racked up more than 87,000 thumbs-down (vs. 48,000+ thumbs-up) across more than three million views in less than 24 hours. And over on Twitter, people have had a few things to say:

It seems possible that those swatting at the “Cats” trailer may feel that this obviously surreal movie adaption of the smash Broadway musical simply doesn’t go far enough. The good news is that Universal is giving this thing a Dec. 25 release, so there’s still time to make some tweaks.

We hereby suggest bringing in John Mulaney, whose “Bodega Bathroom” musical (below) starring a bodega cat (Kenan Thompson) was one of the highlights of the 2018-2019 “Saturday Night Live” Continue reading "The surreal, creepy new ‘Cats’ movie obviously needs a John Mulaney rewrite"

Conan O’Brien found stunningly good ‘Walking Dead’ cosplayers at Comic-Con


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Welcome to the latest edition of Ad Age TV Brief, our roundup of news from the world of broadcast, cable, streaming and beyond.

Comic-Con job
Once again, Conan O’Brien has descended on San Diego for a Comic-Con residency—the fifth year in a row he’s broadcast his show from the nerdfest—and as he notes in the segment above, which first aired on last night’s episode of TBS’s “Conan,” he asked his staff to find “the absolutely best cosplay costume” at the convention. The co-winners of that honor, according to O’Brien: 16-year-old twin sisters Leslie and Natasha Harpold, who came to Comic-Con dressed as their favorite characters from “The Walking Dead.”

Honestly, they did a truly stunning job dressing up as Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). You won’t believe that they’re not actually Morgan and Reedus. Seriously, you will not believe it.

WPP opts out
“WPP Continue reading "Conan O’Brien found stunningly good ‘Walking Dead’ cosplayers at Comic-Con"

Walmart reshuffles leadership for better integration of digital and physical stores


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    Walmart Inc. is still trying to get its structure just how it wants it. The retail giant announced its second internal restructuring in as many months as it tries to better integrate its money-losing online business in the U.S. with its physical stores. The company will merge the teams that run the supply chain and finances for its e-commerce unit and its stores, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. That comes on the heels of an announcement last month that it planned to fully integrate all Jet.com employees into the larger company and shrink the unit’s management team nearly three years after buying the e-commerce site. Merchandising—the key cog of Walmart—is staying separate for now. As part of the shuffle, Ashley Buchanan, who had been leading the merchandising team for its Sam’s Club warehouse unit, will now run merchandising for all of Walmart’s Continue reading "Walmart reshuffles leadership for better integration of digital and physical stores"

Lyft is adding New York subway info to the app, even as it fights with the City


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Lyft Inc. wants its riders in America’s largest city to know that they might not need to take a Lyft. They can just ride the subway. Over the next few months, Lyft said users of its app will be able to access real-time public transportation information in New York City. The move marks another twist in the ride-hailing industry’s fraught relationship with New York, which is both home to the world’s most heavily used public transportation network and the site of a history of legal tussles between the companies and city officials. The app update shows users the locations of nearby subway and bus stations, as well as docks for Citi Bike, the New York bike-share program operated by Lyft. The features are part of a bid to keep users engaged on the platform, rather than navigating away to a different app for subway or bike information. It’s a calculated Continue reading "Lyft is adding New York subway info to the app, even as it fights with the City"

Lyft is adding New York subway info to the app, even as it fights with the City


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Lyft Inc. wants its riders in America’s largest city to know that they might not need to take a Lyft. They can just ride the subway. Over the next few months, Lyft said users of its app will be able to access real-time public transportation information in New York City. The move marks another twist in the ride-hailing industry’s fraught relationship with New York, which is both home to the world’s most heavily used public transportation network and the site of a history of legal tussles between the companies and city officials. The app update shows users the locations of nearby subway and bus stations, as well as docks for Citi Bike, the New York bike-share program operated by Lyft. The features are part of a bid to keep users engaged on the platform, rather than navigating away to a different app for subway or bike information. It’s a calculated Continue reading "Lyft is adding New York subway info to the app, even as it fights with the City"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Chime, VW, Clif Bar and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time on July 17.

A few highlights: VW says that “This summer during our Drive Bigger event, Volkswagen is supporting America’s teachers.” Clif Bar hypes its Zbar organic energy bars for kids in a spot with the tagline “Imagination needs fuel.” And app-based online bank Chime wants you to know that it imposes no hidden fees.

U.S. Women’s World Cup’s Alex Morgan looks to launch media venture


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Alex Morgan, co-captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team that just won its second straight World Cup, is planning to launch her own media venture. The company will focus on storytelling, specifically content for girls created by female athletes, Morgan said. She spoke to Bloomberg News following a Dick’s Sporting Goods event in New York City focused on youth sports participation. “Men’s sports are always in the spotlight,” said Morgan, who scored six goals in the World Cup. “We’ll be focusing on women in sports and sharing the stories that I think a lot of people want hear, and girls need to be given access to.” Morgan declined to provide too many specifics about the venture, which doesn’t yet have a name. She said she isn’t planning to launch it in partnership with any major media companies. The project is one of many off-field pursuits for the 30-year-old, Continue reading "U.S. Women’s World Cup’s Alex Morgan looks to launch media venture"

Barneys New York is exploring restructuring and bankruptcy


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Luxury department store Barneys New York Inc. is exploring restructuring options that could include filing for bankruptcy as it struggles to keep up with higher rent and adapt to changing consumer habits. Barneys is working with financial advisers at MIII Partners and lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The company hasn’t made a final decision on whether to pursue its plan in or out of court, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. Management is trying to figure out how to deal with steeply rising rents, even as cash runs short and consumers defect to other outlets, the people said. Talks are underway with lenders, vendors and certain landlords about potential solutions, they said. Options include lease negotiations out of court, or securing further financing to help it avoid bankruptcy, the people said.

Making adjustments
“Our board and Continue reading "Barneys New York is exploring restructuring and bankruptcy"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Xfinity, Oreo, Adidas and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time on July 16.

A few highlights: Adidas celebrates its Boost shoe technology with a little help from fans across social media. Oreo serves up a hypnotic, iPhone-style commercial that hypes Oreo Thins. And Amy Poehler encourages you to “stop and smell the savings” in Xfinity Mobile’s latest.

Online lingerie retailer ThirdLove tests first real store in NYC


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ThirdLove Inc., an online lingerie seller, has tried to be the antithesis of Victoria’s Secret. Now it’s taking a page from its larger rival’s playbook: stores. The startup, which launched in 2012 and positioned itself as a body-positive bra option, will open a temporary boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo district—a 10-minute walk from the nearest Victoria’s Secret—where it will cull data from customers on their shopping and dressing-room preferences. The shop will be open through the end of the year and the company declined to say if it sees more stores in its future. ThirdLove has been a hit on the web, using its Fit Finder questionnaire and 78 different sizes to attract shoppers tired of tugging at ill-fitting bras. It has had annual sales growth of about 180% in recent years, according to the closely held company, which wouldn’t give actual sales numbers. But it makes up a small Continue reading "Online lingerie retailer ThirdLove tests first real store in NYC"

Toys ‘R’ Us aims to open 10 stores by the end of 2020 in a comeback bid


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The reincarnated version of Toys “R” Us is opening two stores this holiday season as a testing ground, with the hope of scaling up to 10 locations by the end of 2020. The company will open 6,500-square-foot stores at malls in Houston and Paramus, New Jersey, in a joint venture with retailer b8ta Inc. A key part of their strategy is to provide “Instagram-able” experiences to lure shoppers into the new locations, including photo ops with Geoffrey the Giraffe, birthday parties and other events, Tru Kids Brands CEO Richard Barry said in a phone interview. The stores will also feature “brand shop” areas where kids can test out new products. Phillip Raub, the co-founder and president of b8ta, called the store test a “blueprint,” and said future locations may be bigger. “We do anticipate that the sweet spot’s going to be a little bit closer to about 10,000 square feet Continue reading "Toys ‘R’ Us aims to open 10 stores by the end of 2020 in a comeback bid"

Oscar Mayer rents out its Wienermobile to the public: Marketer’s Brief


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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to eschultz@adage.com.

Wienerbnb
Today is National Hot Dog day. And in honor of this momentous occasion, Oscar Mayer announced it is offering up its Wienermobile on Airbnb. The 27-foot-long vehicle will be available in Chicago for three nights, starting Aug. 1, for $136 per night. The timing coincides with the Lollapalooza music festival. The price? That’s a nod to the number of years Oscar Mayer has been in business. Guests can enjoy food from the vehicle’s mini fridge, which will be packed with Oscar Mayer hot dogs and fixings. They’ll also get plenty of hot dog-themed items to take home. Oscar Mayer and Airbnb are also donating $5,000 to Rise Against Hunger. In other Hot Dog Day news, Char-Broil also posted what it says Continue reading "Oscar Mayer rents out its Wienermobile to the public: Marketer’s Brief"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from Walmart, Lexus, Yoplait and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time on July 15.

A few highlights: Yoplait says its new Yoplait Smoothie is for “big little wins” in a spot that focuses on a girl at Taekwondo practice and her (very) proud mom. Walmart promotes its back-to-school deals (see Adrianne Pasquarelli’s “It’s never too early, apparently, for back-to-school campaigns”). And Lexus hypes its Golden Opportunity Sales Event.

Apple to fund original podcasts to fend off Spotify and Stitcher


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Apple Inc. plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay. Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before. Apple all but invented the podcasting business with the creation of a network that collects thousands of podcasts from across the internet in a feed on people’s phones, smartwatches and computers. The Apple Podcast app still accounts for anywhere from 50% to 70% of listening for most podcasts, according to industry executives. The news sent shares Continue reading "Apple to fund original podcasts to fend off Spotify and Stitcher"

Watch the newest commercials on TV from HP, TAG Heuer, David’s Bridal and more


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Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time over the weekend (July 12-14).

A few highlights: David’s Bridal promotes its Win Your Wedding Sweepstakes (grand prize up for grabs: “$25,000 for your big day”). TAG Heuer says “#DontCrackUnderPressure” in a spot that dramatically juxtaposes shots of one of its luxury watches and a Formula E race car. And HP shows off the webcam kill switch built into its Spectre x360 laptop.

Johannes Leonardo hires top recruiter as first chief talent officer


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Debra Sercy, joint CEO of the Americas at global executive search firm Grace Blue Partnership, is leaving to become New York agency Johannes Leonardo's first chief talent officer. “While Grace Blue has been my dream job,” Sercy told Ad Age, “I’ve said time and again that I miss the ‘making’ part of transformational ideas.” Sercy, who said she “wasn’t looking for a new job,” was one of the three founders of the North American office of Grace Blue, which opened in London in 2006. She came aboard in 2012 to start the firm's New York office alongside Founder Jay Haines and joint CEO of the Americas Claire Telling. The consultancy also has offices in Singapore and Shanghai. "Debra has been an amazing partner and a huge part of the business we have built over the past seven years," Haines told Ad Age. "Sometimes an opportunity comes up that is too good Continue reading "Johannes Leonardo hires top recruiter as first chief talent officer"

Johannes Leonardo hires top recruiter as first chief talent officer


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Debra Sercy, joint CEO of the Americas at global executive search firm Grace Blue Partnership, is leaving to become New York agency Johannes Leonardo's first chief talent officer. “While Grace Blue has been my dream job,” Sercy told Ad Age, “I’ve said time and again that I miss the ‘making’ part of transformational ideas.” Sercy, who said she “wasn’t looking for a new job,” was one of the three founders of the North American office of Grace Blue, which opened in London in 2006. She came aboard in 2012 to start the firm's New York office alongside Founder Jay Haines and joint CEO of the Americas Claire Telling. The consultancy also has offices in Singapore and Shanghai. "Debra has been an amazing partner and a huge part of the business we have built over the past seven years," Haines told Ad Age. "Sometimes an opportunity comes up that is too good Continue reading "Johannes Leonardo hires top recruiter as first chief talent officer"

Amazon racks up the celebrity deals on Prime Day


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Will Smith is selling water. Kobe Bryant is pushing deodorant. Mark Wahlberg is peddling protein powder. YouTube star JoJo Siwa, known for wearing big, colorful hair bows, is hawking, well, big colorful hair bows. Amazon.com Inc. is tapping high-profile actors, athletes and social-media sensations to maintain buzz around its Prime Day summer sale, now in its fifth year and battling increasing competition from rivals. Discounted pressure cookers and gadgets just aren't enough to stand out when shoppers can find a flurry of bargains elsewhere. Walmart started a competing four-day sale on Sunday. Target is emphasizing sales on its exclusive clothing and home goods shoppers can’t buy on Amazon. EBay is taunting last year’s Prime Day website outage with a “Crash Sale” offering deals on smartphones, electronics and fashion. And all of them are emphasizing that their deals don’t require paid membership like Amazon. Some 250 retailers are staging their own Continue reading "Amazon racks up the celebrity deals on Prime Day"

Amazon racks up the celebrity deals on Prime Day


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Will Smith is selling water. Kobe Bryant is pushing deodorant. Mark Wahlberg is peddling protein powder. YouTube star JoJo Siwa, known for wearing big, colorful hair bows, is hawking, well, big colorful hair bows. Amazon.com Inc. is tapping high-profile actors, athletes and social-media sensations to maintain buzz around its Prime Day summer sale, now in its fifth year and battling increasing competition from rivals. Discounted pressure cookers and gadgets just aren't enough to stand out when shoppers can find a flurry of bargains elsewhere. Walmart started a competing four-day sale on Sunday. Target is emphasizing sales on its exclusive clothing and home goods shoppers can’t buy on Amazon. EBay is taunting last year’s Prime Day website outage with a “Crash Sale” offering deals on smartphones, electronics and fashion. And all of them are emphasizing that their deals don’t require paid membership like Amazon. Some 250 retailers are staging their own Continue reading "Amazon racks up the celebrity deals on Prime Day"

Facebook’s $5 billion privacy settlement approved by the FTC


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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved a record privacy settlement against Facebook requiring the social-media company to pay about $5 billion to resolve an investigation stemming from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The FTC’s settlement was approved by a vote of 3-2, according to two people familiar with the matter. It caps a probe that opened in March 2018 after news that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign, obtained user data from a researcher who created a personality quiz app on the social network. The FTC’s settlement, the largest privacy fine in the agency’s history, marks the most significant action yet against Facebook over a series of mishaps that have compromised users’ data and sent the company reeling from one crisis to another. The mishandling of data has spurred efforts in Washington to pass legislation to better protect the personal information collected by the Continue reading "Facebook’s $5 billion privacy settlement approved by the FTC"