Sesame Street cereal and brands’ fun with the Utah monolith: Wednesday Wake-Up Call

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. 

Brought to you by General Mills

Cereal sales have risen sharply during the pandemic, despite the efforts of brands like Kraft Mac & Cheese to suggest themselves as alternative breakfast foods. Now General Mills is capitalizing on that with the creation of a Sesame Street cereal brand, reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl (who also asks, quite reasonably, “What took them so long?”)

There are two varieties: “C is for Cinnamon” cereal includes letter-shaped pieces and has a box featuring Cookie Monster and Elmo, while the “1 2 3 Berry” number-shaped cereal showcases Elmo and Abby Cadabby on the box. (If you’re a ’70s child you might be wondering where the Count is, but the newer characters, explains Wohl, are more likely to resonate with the target audience of young kids.)

General Mills is promoting the debut of the line as being a low-cost option for families, and, in keeping with the Sesame Street brand’s educational values, the back of the box opens up like a book, with English and Spanish short stories that feature Elmo visiting a farm and going to school.

A monolithic meme

When a strange metal monolith was discovered in the Utah desert last week, it seemed 2020 couldn’t get any weirder. The sighting, which has become even more bizarre with its subsequent disappearance, and reported reappearance in Romania, has quickly become a meme and now, Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, brands are putting their own spin on it. 

They include McDonald’s, which turned the monolith into a drive-thru ordering kiosk, Southwest Airlines, which shared an image from a follower making it into an airline gate, and The Home Depot, which swapped it out with one of its 12-foot tall skeletons. Walmart, Burger King and Aviation Gin also joined in the fun.

Still no word on who is really behind the monolith, but U.K. ad veteran Trevor Beattie had a suggestion, tweeting: “Either hurry up and reveal that your tedious Monolith is a lame precursor to an All-New Lexus commercial or piss off back to your own planet. We’re busy.”

Salesforce buys Slack

In one of the biggest tech deals of the year, Salesforce confirmed its acquisition of Slack yesterday, agreeing to buy the company for $27.7 billion in cash and stock. Slack investors will receive $26.78 for each company share as well as 0.0776 share of Salesforce—that’s a 55% premium to Slack’s price on Nov. 24, the day before reports about deal talks emerged.

The deal, which gives Salesforce extra leverage in its rivalry with Microsoft, is expected to be completed by the end of July, with Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s co-founder and CEO, continuing to run the business as a Salesforce unit.

YouTube, Spotify wrap up 2020

With the end of 2020 fast approaching (thank goodness), YouTube released its top videos, creators and brands of the year yesterday. Ad Age’s Garett Sloane reports that the platform chose to highlight emerging stars including MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, and Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the teenage TikTok sisters who joined YouTube earlier this year. But one of its longstanding personalities was missing:  PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg. In the ads category, Nike’s “Never Too Far Down: You Can’t Stop Us” was No. 1 with 117.7 million views in a month.

Meanwhile, Spotify also chose this week to reveal its year-end “Wrapped” campaign, reports Ann-Christine Diaz. This year, the brand centered the effort on the themes of gratitude and resilience, highlighting the likes of Michelle Obama’s podcast as well as music from Bad Bunny, the platform’s most-streamed artist. 

Just briefly

Ain’t so bad: The industry’s pandemic decline in 2020 will not be so bad as predicted, according to the end-of-year forecast by GroupM. The reports predicts a decline of 9% as opposed to the 13% it forecast in June, writes Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft. 

Chef’s special: “Red Rooster” founder and top chef Marcus Samuelsson is editing a special holiday issue of Conde Nast’s Bon Appétit. Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco interviews him here about guest-editing for Anna Wintour in a difficult year for the restaurant industry.  

High-concept: New pot shops that have opened since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in January look more like Apple stores and less like UPS stores, writes Crain’s Chicago Business reporter John Pletz. Read more here.

New leaf: With its borders closed, New Zealand has a hard task to market itself to visitors at the moment, but it has come up with an end-of-year campaign that encourages us to look forward to visiting again in 2021. As the first country that will see in the new year, Tourism New Zealand is promising to plant a “Forest of Hope” to which people can gift a tree for $10, representing their canceled plans from 2020. Read more over at Creativity. 

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. 

Subscribers make the difference. Individual, group and corporate subscriptions are available—including access to our Ad Age Datacenter. Find options at AdAge.com/membership.

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. 
Brought to you by General Mills

Cereal sales have risen sharply during the pandemic, despite the efforts of brands like Kraft Mac & Cheese to suggest themselves as alternative breakfast foods. Now General Mills is capitalizing on that with the creation of a Sesame Street cereal brand, reports Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl (who also asks, quite reasonably, “What took them so long?”)

There are two varieties: “C is for Cinnamon” cereal includes letter-shaped pieces and has a box featuring Cookie Monster and Elmo, while the “1 2 3 Berry” number-shaped cereal showcases Elmo and Abby Cadabby on the box. (If you’re a ’70s child you might be wondering where the Count is, but the newer characters, explains Wohl, are more likely to resonate with the target audience of young kids.)

General Mills is promoting the debut of the line as being a low-cost option for families, and, in keeping with the Sesame Street brand’s educational values, the back of the box opens up like a book, with English and Spanish short stories that feature Elmo visiting a farm and going to school.
A monolithic meme

When a strange metal monolith was discovered in the Utah desert last week, it seemed 2020 couldn’t get any weirder. The sighting, which has become even more bizarre with its subsequent disappearance, and reported reappearance in Romania, has quickly become a meme and now, Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, brands are putting their own spin on it. 

They include McDonald’s, which turned the monolith into a drive-thru ordering kiosk, Southwest Airlines, which shared an image from a follower making it into an airline gate, and The Home Depot, which swapped it out with one of its 12-foot tall skeletons. Walmart, Burger King and Aviation Gin also joined in the fun.

Still no word on who is really behind the monolith, but U.K. ad veteran Trevor Beattie had a suggestion, tweeting: “Either hurry up and reveal that your tedious Monolith is a lame precursor to an All-New Lexus commercial or piss off back to your own planet. We’re busy.”
Salesforce buys Slack

In one of the biggest tech deals of the year, Salesforce confirmed its acquisition of Slack yesterday, agreeing to buy the company for $27.7 billion in cash and stock. Slack investors will receive $26.78 for each company share as well as 0.0776 share of Salesforce—that’s a 55% premium to Slack’s price on Nov. 24, the day before reports about deal talks emerged.

The deal, which gives Salesforce extra leverage in its rivalry with Microsoft, is expected to be completed by the end of July, with Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s co-founder and CEO, continuing to run the business as a Salesforce unit.
YouTube, Spotify wrap up 2020

With the end of 2020 fast approaching (thank goodness), YouTube released its top videos, creators and brands of the year yesterday. Ad Age’s Garett Sloane reports that the platform chose to highlight emerging stars including MrBeast, aka Jimmy Donaldson, and Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, the teenage TikTok sisters who joined YouTube earlier this year. But one of its longstanding personalities was missing:  PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg. In the ads category, Nike’s “Never Too Far Down: You Can’t Stop Us” was No. 1 with 117.7 million views in a month.

Meanwhile, Spotify also chose this week to reveal its year-end “Wrapped” campaign, reports Ann-Christine Diaz. This year, the brand centered the effort on the themes of gratitude and resilience, highlighting the likes of Michelle Obama’s podcast as well as music from Bad Bunny, the platform’s most-streamed artist. 
Just briefly

Ain’t so bad: The industry’s pandemic decline in 2020 will not be so bad as predicted, according to the end-of-year forecast by GroupM. The reports predicts a decline of 9% as opposed to the 13% it forecast in June, writes Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft. 

Chef’s special: “Red Rooster” founder and top chef Marcus Samuelsson is editing a special holiday issue of Conde Nast’s Bon Appétit. Ad Age’s Simon Dumenco interviews him here about guest-editing for Anna Wintour in a difficult year for the restaurant industry.  

High-concept: New pot shops that have opened since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in January look more like Apple stores and less like UPS stores, writes Crain’s Chicago Business reporter John Pletz. Read more here.

New leaf: With its borders closed, New Zealand has a hard task to market itself to visitors at the moment, but it has come up with an end-of-year campaign that encourages us to look forward to visiting again in 2021. As the first country that will see in the new year, Tourism New Zealand is promising to plant a “Forest of Hope” to which people can gift a tree for $10, representing their canceled plans from 2020. Read more over at Creativity. 

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. 

Subscribers make the difference. Individual, group and corporate subscriptions are available—including access to our Ad Age Datacenter. Find options at AdAge.com/membership.Read MoreLatest News – Ad Age

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