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The Big Story: New Faces In Challenging Places

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The Big Story is a breezy new podcast featuring a roundtable of AdExchanger editors talking about the biggest stories from the past week. It is available wherever you subscribe to podcasts.

WPP and Nike have some new spokespeople.

While Mark Read’s appointment at WPP was expected and uncontroversial, Colin Kaepernick headlining Nike’s new campaign was pretty much the opposite.

WPP’s staid Labor Day press release announcing its new CEO wasn’t a flashpoint compared to Nike’s Kaepernick ads, but Read’s upcoming responsibilities are not for the faint of heart.

The holding company is facing an existential crisis. Its business model that had been so successful under the firm grip of Martin Sorrell now struggles to prove it’s not obsolete. But Read has a plan, and while it will be a matter of years before anyone can judge his success, he’ll be operating under constant scrutiny from both the marketing world and WPP’s investors.

Read, however, has a few advantages going his way. He’s a longtime WPP board member who had been nurtured for years as Sorrell’s probable successor. And though he’ll carry on Sorrell’s legacy to an extent, ensuring some consistency, he’s not part of the founder’s culture that some industry observers feel undermined the agency world.

Meanwhile, kneeling on the other end of the hysteria spectrum is Colin Kaepernick, the controversial former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick made national waves when he took a knee during the national anthem before each NFL match to demand accountability for police shootings of African-American men.

Forces unsympathetic to Kaepernick – who last snapped a football during the 2016 NFL season – conflated that narrative with claims of disrespect toward the military.

In an age when brand safety is paramount, Nike made a calculated decision to place itself at the center of this controversy.

Join us for the next 20 minutes as the AdExchanger team discusses what’s at stake for WPP and Nike.

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