DTC Companies Bet On Super Bowl Ads; Democrats Want To Legislate Big Tech

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New Advertisers, New Reality

The NFL might have taken a pandemic-related revenue hit during the 2020 season, but advertisers still know that it’s the hottest property on TV. ViacomCBS says its Super Bowl ad inventory is pretty much sold out, with 30-second spots selling for at least $5.5 million. On Feb. 7, the Kansas City Chiefs led by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes will play a Ma-away game against the Tom-pa Brady Bunch (or Tampa Bay Buccaneers). But lest you think the world is back to normal, this year’s Super Bowl advertisers reflect the new COVID reality, noted Campaign US. Digital natives like DoorDash, Fiverr and Mercari will enter the rarefied air of the biggest TV advertising forum of the year. Meanwhile, a bunch of Super Bowl advertising mainstays like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Budweiser opted out. The auto industry, facing declining sales this year due to the pandemic, will be a mixed bag in terms of Super Bowl representation. Toyota and General Motors will be back, but Hyundai, Ford and Audi will stay in the garage. 

Apple On Top

Apple is atop the alphabet. For the first time in five years, the tech giant’s “brand value” reigns supreme, surpassing Amazon and Google (second and third, respectively), according to a ranking from Brand Finance Global 500. Why? Business Insider reports that Apple's diversification strategy paid off, as the brand increased 87% in value last year. With Tim Cook at the helm, the brand has expanded beyond the iPhone, into services like the App Store, iCloud, Apple Podcasts, Music, TV and Arcade. The company is reportedly planning to make a self-driving electric car by 2024 (take that, Elon). Five years ago, the iPhone accounted for two-thirds of Apple's sales, but in 2020 it accounted for just half. The news came ahead of Apple’s first quarter earnings on Wednesday, during which it announced that it surpassed  the $100 billion mark in quarterly revenue for the first time in its history. (Go iPhone 12).

It’s Klobuchar-ing Time

With the Democrats now holding the majority in Congress, its representatives and senators are  gearing up to take on big tech, reports The New York Times. Four years ago, the Dems and Silicon Valley were BFFs. But the issues around monopolies, data privacy, disinformation and hate speech – much of which led to the insurrection at Capitol Hill – have created a growing appetite for legislation to curtail the platforms’ power. Amy Klobuchar, heading up the Senate panel on antitrust, will likely spearhead the regulatory call-to-arms.  Her first order of business will be to introduce a bill that will increase funding for antitrust agencies and prevent deals that allegedly decrease competition, like Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram.

But Wait, There’s More!

Six months after George Floyd died under the knee of a police officer, have ad agencies followed through on their BLM promises? [The Drum]

YouTube blocked Rudy Giuliani from earning ad dollars after he repeatedly pushed election misinformation. [Business Insider

After acquiring Optimizely last fall, content management company Episerver has rebranded the entire organization as Optimizely. [TechCrunch]

A deep dive on why Denmark’s biggest news site cut its reliance on Google’s tech. [Digiday]

The ad industry is pushing for North Dakota to overhaul its proposed privacy law, which would require businesses to get an opt-in before selling customer data. [MediaPost]

Facebook still has Holocaust denial content three months after Mark Zuckerberg pledged to remove it. [USA Today]

Unruly launches self-service tools for CTV and OTT publishers to help them price, package and sell  cross-screen inventory programmatically. [release]

TEGNA has acquired local sports podcast network Locked On to build its podcast presence and overall sports footprint. [TVTechnology]

Ad startup Firefly is selling “Tesla-top” ad campaigns to luxury brands on its Tesla Taxis. [Billboard Insider]

White Ops receives MRC accreditation for pre- and post-bid invalid traffic detection and mitigation across desktop, mobile web, in-app and CTV. [release]

Lotame grew its third-party data sales 117% in the US during the pandemic between Q2 and Q3 2020. [MediaPost]

You’re Hired!

Walgreens names former Starbucks COO Roz Brewer as CEO, making her the only current Black female CEO in the S&P 500. [Ad Age]

Global brand consultancy Interbrand Group promotes Gonzalo Brujó to global president role. [release]

Doceree, a programmatic marketing platform for healthcare professionals, has hired John Spingler as director of agency and brand relationships. [release]

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