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Latest News - AdAge
  1. Nike's latest sneakers? They're only on Fortnite

    Nike Inc.’s newest sneaker release is entirely digital.

    Nike’s Jordan Brand has partnered with Fortnite, the uber-popular video game made by Epic Games, to unveil two new characters wearing classic Jordan sneakers. They come in a few different colors including red and black, the colors of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers' purple and yellow.

    It’s just the latest crossover partnership between Fortnite and other pop-culture icons. Last year, Epic Games teamed up with the National Football League to bring virtual jerseys to the game. Earlier this month, Epic introduced a new place on the Fortnite map modeled after the house from the “John Wick” movie franchise. There have also been “Avengers” crossovers.

    These limited-time deals are meant to keep the game fresh, while giving partners some advertising in a youth-friendly venue. Fortnite, which was released in July 2017, now has roughly 250 million registered users.

    Given that level of exposure, Evercore ISI footwear analyst Omar Saad described the Nike-Fortnite agreement as a “genius” move. But it’s not clear if Nike gets a share of the revenue from the so-called "skins," which cost $13 to $18, Saad said.

    --Bloomberg News

  2. Philip Morris criticized for using influencers in social media ads

    In a letter sent to the top executives at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap, a group of anti-smoking organizations called on the networks to stop letting influencers promote products like Philip Morris International Inc.’s smokeless IQOS device.

    “Immediately remove all content that promotes #IQOS or any tobacco product and features an explicit paid disclaimer,” urged the letter, signed by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and more than 120 other organizations from 48 countries. The letter, dated May 17, also asked the platforms to suspend a list of users that it says have repeatedly posted paid or sponsored content promoting Philip Morris products.

    When asked about the letter, the company noted that some content that tags #IQOS originates from third parties, not Philip Morris, and even in countries where the device isn’t sold. It also said that when it learned one of the influencers promoting its product in Russia was 21, instead of 25 or older like its internal rules dictate, it immediately acted.

    “The simple fact is that digital channels form an important part of our efforts to inform men and women who smoke about the existence of better alternatives to cigarettes, and to help them make informed decisions,” the company said in an emailed response. “By trying to pressure us and digital channel owners to effectively block these channels and to prevent adult smokers from accessing information about better choices, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is in effect perpetuating the consumption of tobacco in its most harmful form: combustible cigarettes.”

    The letter comes shortly after sister company Altria Group Inc. said it will start marketing IQOS in the U.S., beginning in Atlanta. Tobacco-device startup Juul Labs Inc., which Altria has invested in, has also faced steep criticism for youth adoption of its vaping device. Altria has said it doesn’t want to encourage underage use and has advocated to raise the minimum age for tobacco use to 21. Philip Morris has said IQOS will help it “unsmoke” the world by converting adult cigarette smokers to a less risky alternative.

    ‘Unintended audiences’
    Altria’s division, Philip Morris USA, “has no plans to utilize social media influencers for IQOS,” the company said in an emailed statement. The company is “committed to marketing these products to adult smokers, while limiting reach to unintended audiences such as non-smokers and youth.”

    Twitter said in an email that it prohibits the promotion of tobacco products and is in contact with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The company said it supports FTC efforts to restrict online tobacco advertising, including in “new and emergent” ways. However, Twitter said it doesn’t currently prevent influencers from promoting tobacco products on its platform through any deals they may have reached independently.

    Snap Inc. said that its policy bans ads that promote cigarettes, e-cigarettes, tobacco and other “nicotine-related products.” The policy also applies to influencers, the company said.

    Facebook and Instagram didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

    As IQOS launches in the U.S., Philip Morris and Altria also face pressure from six U.S. public health and medical organizations, which wrote a May 14 letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking it to revoke the authorization allowing IQOS to be sold in the U.S., should it become aware of any marketing that reflects strategies Philip Morris has used in other countries that it says were aimed at the “broadest range of consumers.” Those ads, the organizations said, are “entirely inconsistent with a marketing focus on adult smokers.”

    —Bloomberg News

  3. Apple sets June 3 for WWDC keynote to highlight new software

    Apple Inc. said its annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote will happen on June 3, with the iPhone maker planning to unveil new software features aimed at hanging on to its loyal customers in a stagnant smartphone market.

    The presentation will be held at 10 a.m. local time and will be live streamed on Apple’s website. Thousands of developers will attend. The company plans to reveal updates to its operating systems for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac.

    Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported on Apple’s plans for the event, including what’s coming for iOS 13, macOS 10.15, and Watch OS6.

    What’s coming for iOS 13
    Codenamed “Yukon,” the refreshed operating system for iPhones and iPads includes tweaks and new features across several apps, including features originally planned for last year. The company is also already working on iOS 14, codenamed “Azul,” for 2020. That release is expected to support 5G wireless network speeds and new AR functionality for next year’s iPhone.

    The software, for the second year in a row, will speed up the devices and reduce bugs. There will be user interface tweaks, including a new animation when launching multitasking and closing apps. The widgets that appear to the left of the home screen will also have a cleaner look. A Dark Mode, a black and grey-heavy interface optimized for viewing at night, that can be enabled in Control Center, the panel for quickly accessing settings.

    The company is testing a new keyboard option that allows users to swipe across letters on the keyboard in one motion to type out words (Apple could choose to keep this feature internal). This is similar to options on Android handsets and it would compete with third-party iPhone apps such SwiftKey. A revamped Health app with a new homepage that better outlines your daily activity from the day. There will be a section for “hearing health,” like how loud you play music on your headphones or the loudness of the external environment. It also includes more comprehensive menstrual cycle tracking, vying with period-tracking apps such as Clue, Flo and Ovia.

    What’s coming for macOS 10.15
    The biggest change coming to the Mac this year is the ability for iPad apps to run on laptops and desktops, as Bloomberg News previously reported. Apple is also planning bring over a couple of its own iPad apps to the Mac this year: a Podcasts app and the new merged Find My iPhone and Find My Friends app from iOS 13. There will also be a new Apple Music app, which is being developed as a standard Mac program.

    Other in-house software coming to the Mac includes: Screen Time; effects and stickers for the Messages app; integration with the Siri Shortcuts app (the company’s new service for writing your own Siri commands); the new Reminders app; and upgrades to Apple Books. For this year, Apple has been considering debuting a revamped Mac Pro desktop computer. It’s also readying a new external monitor, codenamed J290, with high-dynamic-range support (so colors look much better).

    What’s coming for watchOS 6
    Apple is adding the App Store directly onto the Apple Watch so users can download apps on the go, making the device more independent. Users currently install new apps via the Watch companion application on their iPhone. Apple is bringing the Voice Memos app from the iPhone, iPad, and Mac so users can record voice memos from their wrist. Apple is also planning to add Animoji and Memojis stickers to the device that synchronize from an iPhone.

    The Watch will also get an Apple Books app for listening to audio books from the wrist and a Calculator app. There will be two new health-related apps for the Watch: one dubbed “Dose” inside Apple for pill reminders and another called “Cycles” to track menstrual cycles. Apple is adding more watch face “Complications,” which show additional snippets of information beyond just the time. There will be one that shows the status of audio books, another showing the battery life of hearing aids, and others that measure external noise and rain data.

    The company is also planning several new watch faces: a “Gradient” face that makes a gradient look out of a color the user chooses, at least two new “X-Large” faces that show jumbo numbers in different fonts and colors, a “California” dial that looks like a classic watch face and mixes Roman numerals with Arabic numerals, a redesigned “Solar Analog” watch face that looks like a sundial, and a new “Infograph Subdial” one that includes larger complication views like a stock market chart or the weather.

    —Bloomberg News

  4. Watch the newest commercials on TV from Google, DoorDash, Gucci and more

    Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new commercials tracked by, the TV ad measurement and attribution company. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time on May 20.

    Google shows how you can “find your stride” with Google search in a marathon-themed commercial. Jared Leto and Lana Del Ray star in a fresh TV cut of a moody campaign for Gucci’s Guilty fragrance that debuted online in January. And DoorDash wants you to use its food-delivery app “wherever you are, whatever you’re craving and whenever you’re craving it.”

  5. A top marketer for JC Penney and a rental service for Urban Outfitters: Marketer’s Brief

    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

    Sprouting up at JC Penney

    Five months after the departure of former CMO Marci Grebstein, JC Penney has a new top marketer. The beleaguered department store chain tapped Shawn Gensch as EVP, chief customer officer in charge of all marketing—a newly created position. Gensch, a retail veteran who has worked at Target and was most recently chief customer officer at Sprouts Farmers Market, is tasked with growing traffic, engagement and customer retention. He’ll oversee all digital, advertising and creative design. But it’s an uphill battle for the company, which has struggled to boost sales. On Tuesday, the chain was one of several retailers reporting earnings dips below analyst expectations. JC Penney’s had a first-quarter net loss of more than double the year-earlier period. Same-store sales fell nearly 6 percent; revenue dropped 4 percent to $2.6 billion. Gensch will start at the Plano, Texas-based retailer on June 3.

    If you can't buy it, rent it
    Urban Outfitters is hoping to tap into the sharing economy with its new rental service, Nuuly. The retailer, which owns brands including Free People and Anthropologie in addition to its namesake chain, will rent out women’s apparel for a monthly subscription fee of $88. The service will debut this summer. In a release, Urban noted the growing shopper trend of renting, “solving the paradox of a millennial’s quest for constant fashion newness alongside the desire for a more sustainable lifestyle.” It’s certainly worked out well for Rent the Runway, the New York-based pioneer of fashion renting, which recently expanded into an 8,300-square-foot flagship store in San Francisco. And what’s with the name? Urban Outfitters tapped creative agency Fuzzco to come up with the moniker. “We chose the name Nuuly because we liked the sound, the look and the way that the word ‘new’ is embedded within,” says David Hayne, chief digital officer, URBN, and Nuuly President. He notes that the wordmark’s “n” and “u” inverses symbolize the “out and back nature of a rental service.” We never would have gotten there on our own, so we’re glad we asked.

    Hershey’s and Reese’s deepen ties to Twitch
    Twitch announced a year-long plan with Hershey’s and Reese’s that it says is one of the most in-depth deals a non-endemic brand has made with the e-gaming company. The deal includes video ads, participation at TwitchCon North America 2019, sponsorship with DrLupo, MrsDrLupo and TimTheTatman, among other plans, and follows tests conducted from 2016 to 2018. “The growth of Twitch as a media platform has caught our attention,” Charlie Chappell, Hershey Co.’s head of media and comms planning, said in a statement. “In our initial foray, we realized Twitch can deliver the attention and engagement we need.”

    Farmers to thank for new pizza deal
    Domino’s cooked up a somewhat odd tie-in to offer a discount this week. The largest pizza chain says it is thanking American farmers with an offer for a $5.99 large, two-topping carryout pizza May 20 to 26. "Domino's wouldn't exist without dairy, tomato and wheat farmers across the U.S.," spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre said in a statement, adding that farmers work seven days a week, just like people who work at a Domino’s. The pizza chain also said it is three years into its five-year, $1 million commitment to the National FFA Organization (formerly the Future Farmers of America).

    Maxwell House supports military spouses with USO pact
    Maxwell House is now the official coffee partner of the USO. The Kraft Heinz brand says it will support USO programs and that the deal includes in-store promotions around Labor Day and Veterans Day, plus donations of coffee and funding. It announced a $650,000 donation in May, which is Military Appreciation Month. The effort with the nonprofit organization focuses on helping military spouses find employment, Maxwell House says. 

    What Gen Z loves
    Morning Consult is out with a list of the top brands for Gen Z adults ages 18 to 21. Gen Z has similar brand favorites compared to their millennial predecessors. Google, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Oreo round out the top five on the list, which measures favorability, trust, community impact, and Net Promoter Scores.

    Would you buy this?
    Little Caesars has a new pizza loaded with the usuals—caramelized onions, green peppers and mushrooms—and the unusual—Impossible Sausage made from plants.

    Number of the week
    650: number of Dress Barn stores that will close as part of the retailer’s shut down

    Tweet of the week

    Comings and goings
    Stacey Kawahata, most recently a strategy director at Vice Media, just joined Lime as head of global brand strategy and content. At the fast-growing scooter company, she’ll oversee brand campaigns, social media, and content strategy. Lime recently introduced its new brand platform, “Unlock Life” in collaboration with the Lab at Anonymous Content.

    Beauty giant Coty has appointed Fiona Hughes as chief marketing officer of consumer beauty. She was most recently CMO at Jacobs Douwe Egberts, a beverage brand.

    Criteo, the ad tech company, tapped Geoffroy Martin as EVP and global general manager of Criteo Retail Media. He had been CEO of

    Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli, Jessica Wohl



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